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Preliminary plans for proposed new library reviewed by Haakon County Library Board

View of proposed library from Pine Street, looking south toward courthouse, which would be behind.

Following months of reviewing various drafts for the proposed new Haakon County Public Library, the Library Board approved preliminary drawings Saturday, April 8.

The new structure is approximately 6,000 square feet. It will run east to west about 94 feet and north to south about 64 feet. The lot it is proposed to be built on is 140 feet from east to west. According to designer Kent Kennedy, the Haakon County Commissioners have to complete a site survey before the exact placement of the proposed library will be known. Thus, the library may be placed farther forward or behind the courthouse building. With the length of the building being approximately 94 feet, there will be about 48 feet left divided between the front and rear of the library. The library will be situated further forward than the courthouse, but until the survey is completed the exact number of feet is unknown.

The library will overtake a portion of the existing parking lot north of the courthouse. The width of the proposed library is at about 64 feet with another approximate 20 feet for the connector link between the courthouse and the proposed library. The connector link will be about 38 feet long from east to west. In the published drawings that are looking from the east or west it is hard see that this link is set back from the front of the building.

The exterior of the building will be brick and stone to match and compliment the Haakon County Courthouse. Kennedy said he designed the proposed library with the architecture of the courthouse in mind.

Inside the library, the front desk will face the south. This will give the librarian a good view of the larger part of the library. As you enter the library from the main doors on the west, there will be an education/meeting room on the right and an office on the immediate left. A storage room is placed in the northwest corner. As you proceed into the library, on the right will be a history room that will contain Philip and Haakon County history as well as that of the state and nation.

The main area of the library is positioned in front of the visitor. Currently, the kids and adult reading areas are to the left along the north wall. The computer area is to the right on the south wall. To the east of the computer area is the young adult fiction section. To the north of that is the teen reading area, the adult and young adult non-fiction and then the adult fiction. The center area of the room will be open space at this time, which will allow the library to grow as more books and other materials are added.

The library board has been very appreciative of the suggestions, and of offerings of various buildings from the community. While they would like to make use of them, some of the suggestions are not feasible. An offer of land was looked at, but it lies in the flood plain and this could hurt the chances for receiving grants and obtaining insurance. The Waddell building was offered. While it has plenty of space, making it Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and other remodeling could push the cost to close to what a new building would cost. A portion of the former Kennedy Implement building has been suggested as a location. While this has not been totally ruled out, the remodeling costs and lack of space may not make it a viable option. Two main requirements are needed for the library. First, all doors, restrooms, books have to be ADA accessible. The second requirement is that the floor must be able to support the weight of 100 pounds of books per square foot. It is hard to give enough reinforcement to floors in multi-storied buildings so that they can support this weight.

Friends of the Library are in the beginning stages of organizing a capital campaign to raise funds for the new library. They had planned to begin after the first of the year, but incorporation and non-profit status papers had not been completed at that time.

A committee is meeting this week to design a pledge form, a letter and brochure to be mailed to area residents and alumni.

Librarian Alison Kattlemann noted that in studies she has read, the nationwide impact for libraries is that for every one dollar that is invested in the library, over four dollars are returned.