We’re all about balance and change at the Marion Public Library right now. We’re trying to find the sweet spot where the community feels informed and up to date on our plans for a new library, but we don’t want to publicize too many specific—but speculative— details and then have to retract and replace what we shared when things change. And if we can count on one thing with this kind of project, it’s change. As we consider land options, infrastructure design, even things as basic as square footage requirements, each adjustment requires other alterations. We recently created a timeline with our development partner Ryan Companies, which we shared at a Library Board meeting. But changes in parts of the project shifted the content of the timeline; another example of really having to use our change muscles and focus on the end goal.
We’re striving for a balanced approach to working in our current building, too, but this is similarly complex. Deciding what systems to modernize and what cosmetic issues to address is difficult in a facility that you expect to be leaving as part of the building project. We’re looking at some large-scale work on the heating and cooling systems this fall, making changes to how janitorial services are managed and provided, and working hard to prioritize other fixes throughout the building. Patron and staff safety and comfort lead these decisions, but it’s difficult to determine what should be at the top of the list for repairs when we need to balance needs, wants, and the uncertain possibilities of the future.
That said, there are constants in the project that are unchanged, like why a new library is needed and what our aspirations are. That’s why we speak so freely and confidently about the benefits of a mixed use building (increased tax revenue from a footprint shared with retail and housing space, most efficient use of a space in Uptown Marion), how a more flexible and larger floorplan will allow our amazing staff to offer better and more dynamic service to our users, and the ability to grow and change with our community in an organic way. Our high circulation, door counts, program attendance, and the rapidly increasing population of our community tell a compelling story, and we believe that time taken now to make effective plans is worth every moment. Thank you for working on your change muscle with us as we find the best path forward!
--Elsworth Carman, Library Director