Kennedy Torch

Kennedy Torch

The Expansion of More than Just a Library

Sophia Jasper, Writer

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For the city of Hiawatha, their public library is so much more than just a place to find books. It’s a place that provides guidance, education, and a sense of community, which is what makes the expansion of the library worth the $4 million price tag.

Built 20 years ago, the 8,543-square foot building was equipped for 1997, but as library director Jeaneal Weeks explained, a library’s needs change with time.

“Libraries have always been in the information business and the tools of information have changed and so we now deliver things in a different way.” Weeks describes the use of the internet as a tool of information and an essential resource used in their different library programs.

One issue that this presents is the lack of resources the building itself has for technology. The staff want to provide these tools, but because of a lack of outlets and space for computers, expansion and remodeling is crucial.

Weeks says the library first noticed a need for expansion in 2005 when they closely examined the number of people the library served.

Twelve years later this need is being fulfilled.

In the late summer, the library’s plan was approved to remodel, following a vote in which 60 percent approval was needed. The library received over 70 percent.

The project will consist of an 13,457-square foot addition to the left side of the building, which will include two levels. The new space will also include an area dedicated for youth, named a “Tween Zone,” quiet spaces and study rooms, and a lower level for a storm shelter.

These additions address many of the libraries needs and Week’s hope is that it will help offer better help and outreach to Hiawatha.

“People’s ideas of libraries don’t always change, but libraries are changing all of the time to adapt to what are community needs,” Weeks said.

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