Work begins on new Cedar Rapids Public Library

New facility set to open in summer of 2013

A night view of the planned $49 million, 94,000 square-foot Cedar Rapids Public Library. (Photo courtesy of OPN Architec
A night view of the planned $49 million, 94,000 square-foot Cedar Rapids Public Library. (Photo courtesy of OPN Architects)

The city is taking another big step in flood recovery.

Monday marks the official day the city takes over the former TrueNorth building on 4th Avenue SE in downtown Cedar Rapids to begin construction on the city's new library.

“Come Monday, we get the ability to start seeing some things happen on the land,” said Cedar Rapids Library Public Information Officer Amber Mussman.

Water from the Cedar River inundated the former library on First Street SE three years ago. Since then, the library has been in a temporary location at Westdale Mall. As the construction equipment begins to arrive, it marks a new chapter of the library for both young and old.

Story time and roaming the library is one of 3-year-old Lucy Giorgio's favorite activities.

"Because there are so many Barbie books,” Lucy Giorgio said.

But soon, the only library Lucy has ever known will completely change.

"It will be two floors, 95,000 square feet; it'll have a 200-seat auditorium that faces Greene Square Park,” Mussman said.

The new library will be pricey.  It'll add up to about $50 million. But workers agree that it's worth it.

"It's time,” Mussman said.

While the collection at the library continues to grow, as do the number of people visiting the mall, library officials say they're ready to go home.

"We've missed having that footprint downtown, and we've felt crunched for space,” Mussman said.

That space keeps getting smaller as the library works to replace its collection. The flood wiped out hundreds of thousands of books.

“The library took on water and the library, our books and technology just don’t mix. Like oil and vinegar, it just doesn’t work well,” said Cedar Rapids Public Library Director Bob Pasicznyuk.

But soon the rows and rows of reading materials will have a new home. And Lucy and her mom will keep a close eye on the new library's progress.

"We can't wait. We wish it would be built instantaneously,” said Lucy's mother Katie Mills Giorgio.

Library staff members say the work will seem slow at first. Crews will be inside tearing out anything that they can save to donate, like any doors, cabinets and windows. Then demolition will begin just after the first of the year.

After renovations, TrueNorth moved into the former library building.The new library will open its doors during the summer of 2013.

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