When we partnered with Ryan Companies to plan a new mixed-use facility for Uptown Marion we developed three goals:
- Build a flexible library space to meet 21st century library needs – one capable of quickly adapting to change;
- Make the Library the centerpiece of Uptown Marion’s identity and future – take advantage of our traffic and turn it into activity that drives economic development; and
- Add taxable value to the community that will contribute to future funding.
We’re now taking the next steps to achieve these goals.
The first step is to test our assessment of what Marion needs from its new library. In the next few weeks we’ll conduct a comprehensive community survey to make sure we understand those needs. Based on our research, for example, we think that children and young adults are mission critical audiences for the Library, and our new library should be designed to accommodate the needs of these audiences.
Our needs assessment revealed that Marion wants a library that reflects our community’s essential characteristics – one that is clearly identifiable as a cultural institution and offers the warm and cozy surroundings that match the kind of customer service people have come to expect.
When we’ve completed and analyzed the community survey, we’ll schedule information sessions to get more input and answer questions about the project.
Sometime this summer, we’ll sit down with Ryan Companies and identify the footprint of the overall mixed-use project and begin design work on the library component. We have almost two square blocks of downtown real estate on either side of 11th Street to work with, and there is the possibility of closing 11th Street and using that space as well. To a great extent, that possibility depends on the City’s success with regard to the Reinvestment District application it currently has before the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
By early fall we hope to have preliminary interior and exterior design drawings to share with the public for a final round of public input. We’d like to start construction about a year from now, but we have a guiding principle: we will take the time needed to get things right.
--Doug Raber, Library Director