Library study to be presented in November

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

A downsized study that aims to provide information about the possibility of a new location for the library should be presented to the Albert Lea City Council in November.

According to Library Director Lori Barkema, representatives of the library began the process with an &uot;unscientific&uot; survey at the Freeborn County Fair.

&uot;We asked people where they would like to see the library,&uot; said Barkema. They also asked why people thought the library should be in the areas that they suggested.

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The four most popular choices were the vacant high school building, an empty lot on North Broadway, an expansion of the current location in city hall, and the old Wal-mart.

Proponents of the former-high school said that it has plenty of room inside and adequate parking. Those in favor of the North Broadway location said that it would be an appropriate addition to nearby art-oriented buildings such as the Albert Lea Civic Theatre and the Albert Lea Arts Center. People in support of expansion within the city hall said that it had a nice view and that city offices could be moved elsewhere. And those who suggested the old Wal-Mart location said that it would save money to move into a building already constructed and most residents are aware of the location.

An architectural firm, Meyer, Shearer and Rockcastle, was then hired to conduct a feasibility analysis of the locations. The firm has built libraries in Minneapolis and Austin. Representatives toured the four most popular locations, Barkema said. The study cost around $8,000, which is $17,000 cheaper than a more extensive study that had previously been denied by the city council. The majority of council members thought $25,000 was more than the city could afford.

Barkema said that the recent study &uot;is much less complete,&uot; but the firm should provide information about the appropriateness and cost of each site.

City Manager Paul Sparks said that the information should be presented to the council sometime next month and councilors will decide what to do based upon the presentation.

Barkema said that the library’s space is one of the smallest compared to cities similar to Albert Lea. But, she said, it has higher circulation and is open more hours.

(Contact Benjamin Dipman at or call 379-3439.)