116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The city of Marion expected to gain access this month to a new, much larger library that has been years in the making, but with building material lapses, delivery delays and subcontractor staffing shortages, the new date is in April with a possible opening to the public in July.
“As of right now, our anticipated turnkey date is April 15,” Deputy Library Director James Teahen said. “Unfortunately we’re running into construction delays everyone is seeing.”
The new, two-floor building is located in the 1100 block of Sixth Avenue, across the street from the old library, which had been its location since 1996. In that time, Marion has doubled its population since the original 24,500-square-foot library was built. The new building will be almost twice as big.
Its cost of about $18 million will be paid for through a $3.3 million capital campaign, $5 million in local-option sales tax funding, $3 million in property damage insurance and the sale of the current site, $6 million in bonding and $1 million in tax increment financing.
“Right now, the second floor is looking move-in ready,” Teahen said. “We just have touch ups with paint. The first floor still looks like a construction area. The flooring is almost done, ceiling tiles are being placed. The appliances for the demonstration kitchen are still coming and cabinetry is still coming together.”
Teahen said the hope is to be open to the public on Fourth of July weekend. “It’s long overdue,” he said.
Currently the library has 25 employees and relies on volunteers. No new hires are planned for the larger building, at least in the current budget. Teahen said the staff will weigh what the needs are. “But we've received an outstanding response to our volunteering program,” he said.
With all of the new features and amenities in the new space including a demonstration kitchen, a recording studio, a “green screen” room and gaming spaces, the staff will need around eight to 10 weeks of training after the turnkey date, Teahen said.
“Our kitchen will have a full kitchen set up with video cameras so everything hands on will be able to be seen by TVs in the same room” Teahen said. “We will have a gaming space with PS5 and Xboxes and stadium-style seating as well.”
There also will be an outdoor terrace area on the second floor featuring an indoor/outdoor fireplace. “The capacity up there is 100 people so it’s fairly large,” Teahen said.
The new facility broke ground in October 2020 The old library building was damaged in the August 2020 derecho and never reopened. In the meantime, the library is operating mainly out of a storefront on Seventh Avenue in Uptown Marion.
In addition, the library has a new director in his first year in Bill Carroll. Carroll is the library’s fourth director in the last five years. Doug Raber retired in 2016 after five years in the position. In 2017, Elsworth Carman was hired as director but took a job as the city’s director of administrative services before leaving to be Iowa City’s library director in 2018. The next and most recent director, Hollie Trenary, was fired without public explanation in November 2020.
Teahen said he’s excited for that first open day in the new building.
“It is completely surreal. I’ve lived in Marion my entire life so I've seen the different stages of the libraries, and this is finally coming to life. We’re super excited for the patrons to see all the amenities we have,” he said.
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