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April 2014

16

Alice Baker: The little library with a big idea

Alice Baker Memorial Community Library

Alice Baker Memorial Community Library Photo by:

Village of Eagle - A small group of residents braved icy roads and blowing snow to meet at Alice Baker Memorial Community Library on Jan. 30 to discuss the future expansion and how it is to be funded.

The library has been exploring an expansion since late 2011. Since then, the community has weighed in with ideas, and the library has made strides toward a solution to its cramped spaces. On Jan. 30, representatives from several different groups came together to lay out the plan and answer questions from the community. Library Board President David Trevor, Library Director Alli Chase, and architecture firm FEH Associates representative Gregory Baum led the group in discussions about the plan to quadruple the size of the library.

The space

The 4,000-square-foot library checks out nearly 65,000 volumes per year to residents from a half-dozen neighboring communities and plays host to community programs throughout the year, from "mommy and me" playtimes to senior Wii bowling.

Based on the size of the collection and the services offered by the library, current standards say 12,000 square feet is required to be effective. However, Baum was quick to point out that with projected growth in the community, 16,000 square feet is the proposed expansion.

The building plan shows the library expanding to the west, which would allow it to use existing features such as parking, the septic system and the current structure and add additional space, as well as connecting the neighboring trail to Eagle Elementary School and taking advantage of the nature surrounding the area.

In addition to the exterior changes, the interior would be renovated to become more modern. Additional seating, computers and quiet study rooms were highly requested items from the initial study and would be accompanied by a teen room, dedicated room for programming and additional work space for library staff.

"It's just as important for a 60-year-old to have something to read and something to do as it is for a 6-year-old," Chase said. "We're trying to give everyone the space they need."

The need

Crystal Shamsi, a resident from the area, loves using the library with her family. An online student, Shamsi spends time taking tests in the library that require a proctor. She said that while the space is small, a little cramped, and at times loud, she's thankful for the service the library provides.

Shamsi also has two sons, ages 10 and 7, who enjoy picking up books, playing with library puppets and attending community programming at the library.

"We really never sit and actually read here because there isn't enough space, so we usually just go home with our books," Shamsi said. "I think we would spend more time here if there was more space rather than at home because we're not getting sidetracked by TV or the phone or anything. I absolutely think expanding should be a big priority for Eagle."

The price tag

This plan comes with a more -than $4.5 million price tag, which is projected to be covered through a capital campaign instead of with taxpayer dollars.

Chase explained the value an expansion would bring to the community.

"This has an economic impact as well," Chase said. "People come to the library in Eagle, and they buy gas, they stop and eat lunch; it's more than just a library visit."

Chase hopes to start the capital campaign sometime this year, but there is no set plan as to when.

The library is planning a followup meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Eagle Municipal Building.

This meeting will be a town-hall forum at which the community can ask questions about the upcoming project.

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