116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Hiawatha voters on Nov. 7 approved a $1.2 million bond for expansion of the Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Willman St.
The project will add 13,500 square feet to the 8,500-square-foot library at 150 W. Willman St.
The city has already budgeted $1 million in local-option sales taxes funds for the $4.1 million project. Library officials hope to raise $2 million for the expansion.
Before the bond vote, library director Jeaneal Weeks said about $730,000 has been raised toward that goal, adding that she believed more donations would be coming in if the bond was approved.
The bond proposal, which does not raise property taxes for city residents, required 60 percent approval. The measure passed with 76 percent approval.
WHAT'S HAPPENED SINCE
Donations now stand at about $915,000, and Weeks said she anticipates those numbers will continue to increase.
Also, she said, library officials will continue to apply for grants and talk to local donors, such as the Hall-Perrine Foundation.
'We know full-well that many of our donors were waiting to see what the referendum did,” Weeks said. 'Some of the large donors were the ones that were hanging back, so we will be approaching them. We have a lot of confidence that we're going to reach that goal.”
The library hopes to seek bids for the expansion construction in early 2018, Weeks said.
The expansion will provide study rooms, space for 15 computer workstations and meeting rooms for community groups and library programming.
Since the library opened in 1998, circulation of materials has skyrocketed, with about three-fourths of the circulation involving people who live outside Hiawatha - from Alburnett, Robins and Cedar Rapids, for example.
'We out-circulate every library of our size in the state by a lot,” Weeks said. 'Because we are two blocks from the second largest city in the state, we are doing business more reflective of our metro area rather than just Hiawatha.”
As such, there just isn't enough room and the library has not been able to expand its collection in a few years.
'It's just not comfortable in here,” Weeks said. 'It's full all of the time. Even if we try to walk down one aisle, you have to say ‘excuse me' to somebody. There's not room for a stroller, a wheelchair or anything.”
Weeks said she is grateful for the voter approval of the bonds, as well as the margin of victory. 'We were worried people wouldn't go vote,” she said.
Meanwhile, Weeks said fundraising efforts continue, with donations coming from unlikely places,
'A few weeks ago, a little boy was standing at our desk reading plans for the new library,” Weeks said. 'He came up to me and put his hand in his pocket and said, ‘I want to help build the new library,' and he gave me $1.21. After I told his mother, his sister got involved, and they gave us a total of $2.36. That was the most meaningful donation ever.”
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