Hopes the city will listen: A library with a vision
Story and photos by Clarke Davis
The Delaware Township Library Board members would like the city officials to see their vision of making the library the cultural center of the community and help them create it.
“We really had our hopes up when we first approached the city, knowing they were moving to new quarters,” librarian Amy Lassiter said.
The library is located in a metal building that has been divided into thirds and included city hall and the District 11 ambulance headquarters.
When the ambulance moved to new quarters the city moved its office to the west end and the library gained that space. Now the library would like the entire building and the board believes this is the most opportune time to fashion a truly good library.
When board members showed up at the Aug. 21 meeting to discuss arrangements they were told the city police station was not moving and would keep a substantial part of the remaining space. The council is even talking of adding a garage onto the west end of the building to house the police cars.
Board members Jody Lockhart and Willie Schmelzle left disappointed.
“We were invited there to discuss the move but there was no discussion,” Lockhart said. “We were simply told how it was going to be.”
“We want the city officials to see what a positive thing this can be for the community,” Lassiter said. “The library is often seen as a reflection of the community.”
She noted that for years there has been discussion about finding a new location for the library or building a new one. While they found the latter to be too expensive, they have focused on their current location.
Given the entire building, the board would seek architectural help from the Northeast Kansas Library System to design a modern library.
Given the whole building, Lassiter envisions a central check-in station for herself with the ability to monitor most areas. All of the partitions would be removed allowing them to gain the hallway space as well.
“We have to accommodate everyone,” Lassiter said. “We need an area for young people to hang out and have a good time. They make a little more noise than the others, but this is a good, safe place for kids to congregate. There would be more quiet areas for adults who want to read or students who are doing homework.”
A private area—maybe an enclosed space—would be created for privacy. The library has organizations such as Social Security, Veterans Administration, Independent Living, etc. who call on clients at the library.
The plans would have to include a meeting area for small groups ranging from the book club to the yoga classes. The 10 computers would fit into the design with several in one area and a few reserved for youths who like to play games together.
She said the current library space is simply inadequate.
“We can be overrun with children while a person with a walker is trying to gain access to the bookshelves,” she said. “It’s nearly impossible to browse and have any privacy.”
The library receives about $13,500 from the NEKLS and Lassiter said that would increase with an improved library that gains more clients and moves more material.
More grants would also be available as the library scheduled more programs. A “Star Wars Read Day” one Saturday last October attracted 250 children.
“We could not get them all in here. The children are interested in books and excited about reading,” Lassiter said. “I was shocked but it showed how supportive people are of the library and how they want more programs.”
“The library is a reflection of the community and it’s the place many people first come to when they are deciding whether or not to move to a town,” she said.
The library has sufficient funds from estate money and donations to handle all the renovations.
“There would be no increase in tax dollars for the city or the township,” Lassiter said.
The librarian said she understands the need for a police station, too, and believes the community can pull together to resolve this problem. She hopes the city won’t allow that to keep the library from going ahead with its plans.
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