Library Building Project Overview - October 2017

After many years of discussion and planning, the library staff is excited to be in the design phase of a new public library for Marion. The details outlined here should provide an overview of the project and answer the most commonly asked questions. Please contact the library if you’d like more information or have or hear other questions.

The new Marion Public Library building will be part of a multi-use facility (including retail, apartments, and the library) planned for construction on the lot where the Marion Square Mall currently sits. The mall has been purchased by local company Genesis Equities in partnership with Ryan Companies.

The library leadership has regular public building update meetings and anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to attend one of these meetings. They are planned at various times and on different days (including evenings and weekends) to accommodate people’s diverse schedules and busy lives. Each meeting includes a building tour and plenty of time for questions. Library leaders share the most current plans and renderings of the project.

Visit the library’s website ( or call 319‑377‑3412 and ask for the Information Desk to find out about the current schedule of meetings. There are also schedule handouts available.

If community members are unable to make it to a building project update, everyone is always encouraged and welcome to call and talk to library director Elsworth Carman (319-743-1984); Elsworth can be reached by email at If Elsworth is unavailable, you can ask to speak with any supervisor. All are happy to share information and welcome questions, comments, and concerns.

The library leadership team is excited to share project details as they stand today; this is a fluid project and any of these things might change as the project moves forward.


  • The Marion Library is the 6th busiest library in Iowa based on circulation. About 1000 people come through the library’s doors each day.
  • The current library building was completed in 1996. Since then, the Marion community has grown from 23,036 to 38,480 in 2016, a 67% increase.
  • The current building cannot accommodate the materials or public spaces the community needs and wants.
  • Staff struggles to work efficiently in crowded and inflexible areas.


  • The Marion Public Library Foundation (a committee of the Friends of the Marion Carnegie Library, a 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization in the State of Iowa) will purchase the library portion of the complex using non-profit conduit financing at construction completion and will assume the debt.
  • $5 million of local option sales tax (LOST) funds are set aside for the project.
  • There will be a capital campaign.
  • The project will benefit from the sale or re-use of the current library property.


  • A 3-4 level parking structure will be built on the block that currently houses the Katz parking lot and a number of city-owned buildings.
  • The parking structure will be connected to the library with a skywalk.
  • There will be a drive-through book return in the parking structure.

Other questions:

  • 11th Street will remain closed between 6th and 7th Avenues.
  • The park will be expanded by about 40% to incorporate a plaza (a separate project from the building) that leads up to the library entrance.
  • The new mall owner will manage relocation options for current tenants.
  • There can be no vote on the project as no public money is involved. Iowa Code does not allow for a yes/no vote unrelated to financing.
  • Because the City is not bonding for the project, there will be no increase in residents’ property taxes as a result of the new library.
  • The apartments have been planned to be market-rate (not subsidized).