In 2008, Marion conducted a community visioning process called Imagine8. Its purpose was to identify the civic projects most needed to realize the future of Marion as one of Iowa’s fastest growing cities. Expansion of the current library was identified as one of the eight most important projects.
Last year, the Board of Trustees created a Renovation & Expansion (R&E) committee that included representatives from the Board and the community to identify current building issues and features most needed in a new library. That led to a formal needs assessment process which reached some interesting conclusions.
In every measure of capacity the Marion Public Library is below our peer city average. It is at the bottom of the list in building size. The average size of our peer city libraries is 47,591 square feet. Marion’s is 24,500 square feet.
In nearly every measure of use our library is above the peer city average and ranks near the top of the list. Of our peers, only Ames does more business than we do and even with the opening of the new Cedar Rapids Public Library we still finish second in total circulation. Marion is a reading community. The growth of its school age population assures that it will remain so.
Our current building has seen a lot of heavy use and it has some issues, but more interesting are the features the R&E committee identified as desirable to move forward. You can find the entire list in the Facility Needs Assessment.
These features helped us to define a Facility Vision Statement to guide the next phase of the project.
Four guiding points of the facility vision include:
1) Children are a mission critical audience for MPL. The needs of this audience will serve as a primary and guiding focus of building design.
2) Young adults are a mission critical audience for MPL. To serve this audience, the design will provide a hip, vibrant, alive, technology-informed young adult space.
3) For adults the facility will be a destination. The design will provide a “third place” focused on cultural and social experience.
4) The 21st Century library is one that integrates technology and traditional library features to provide flexible information and cultural services capable of responding to diverse needs.
--Doug Raber, Library Director