Library requests additional space

The Broken Bow Library has a proposal. In a written request to the Broken Bow City Council Feb. 9, the Library Board is asking for additional space and they have an idea on how this can be accomplished. Established more than 100 years ago, the Broken Bow Public Library began with the formation of the Ladies Library Association in 1885. The current building became their home in the fall of 1971. The Broken Bow Library Board, and Library Foundation Board want to make sure Broken Bow’s Library fulfills the needs of the community in the years to come. This is what they know. The number of users has increased from 12,689 in 1979-1980 to 32,000 users 2010-2011. Last year, there were more than 7,000 children and youth users registered through the Summer Reading program, after school programs, preschool lap-sit program and special activities. In 1979 there were none. An estimated 800 users have been documented in their young adults programs, and 500 adults in formal book discussions, art exhibits and humanities programs. In 1979 none of these programs existed. Today there are 10 public access computers, wireless Internet, an automated catalog and circulation database, and Nebraska OverDrive for e-book. In 1979, this type of technology didn’t exist. While there is a small meeting room in the back, it is not sufficient to supply the need. The conversation began several years ago. In May 2010, the Library Board started the process of formally researching what was needed to meet the demands of the 21st century library user, as well as the needs of the community. Their proposal is included in a formal brochure and states the following: • A 2,500 square foot addition to the east of the building that would consist of one large meeting room that could be separated into two rooms, two storage rooms and a mechanical room. The meeting room would fill a critical community-wide need. It is anticipated that the capacity for the undivided meeting room would be more than 220 (with chairs only) and 160 (with table and chairs.) This space would also include accommodations for technology as well as kitchen needs. • Remodeling the existing meeting room and storage room into the children’s library, handicapped accessible restrooms, a hallway and a mechanical room. • Remodeling the existing children’s library and office area into an open service area and workroom. • Remodeling the existing front entry so you could access either the library area or a hallway leading to the restrooms and meeting rooms. There would be a door to the library that could be locked, but access to the meeting rooms after hours would still allow the public to use that area. (Remodeled areas total approximately 4,200 square feet.) The Board suggests that the best funding option would be to obtain a Communities Facilities Loan from the USDA Rural Development, especially designed for libraries in small rural communities and repay the loan with city infrastructure funds. The load period could be up to 30 years and at the time the Chief went to press, the interest rate was 3.57 percent. The Library Board will be meeting with city engineers, JEO on Monday. The City Council asked the Board to return at a future date with more information.