By Charles Parker
Special to The Globe
JOPLIN, Mo. —
“Why is a new library needed?” is a question that’s already been asked by a few residents in the Joplin library district. There is an answer to the question.
The current library building is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. For example, the book stack aisles are approximately 28 inches apart. There are 19 rows of stacks. Achieving ADA standards by moving the stacks to a more convenient 42 inches would eliminate four rows, or 21 percent (26,853 volumes) of the available books and electronic media. There is no room for larger collections.
Parking is inadequate for the increasing numbers of patrons utilizing the library and attending the various programs. And there is no room at the current site to expand the parking.
The computer lab has nowhere to expand and is heavily used by patrons. In addition, the tables that are provided for persons engaged in recreational reading or research are often filled to capacity. Potential space for both the computer lab and tables has been utilized by the Teen Spaces, which is utilized extensively and has no room to expand.
As computer services increase, finding space for the servers themselves becomes a major problem. Due to the sensitivity of electronic equipment to temperatures and humidity — a constant factor in Joplin during the four months of summer — cooling the servers becomes a serious problem. There is no dedicated space for them. Maintaining them in their current precarious location has been a worrisome chore, because of heat issues.
Patrons never see the technological services department where library acquisitions are processed and catalogued. There is little room to do this kind of work and no room for storage. Nor is there any kind of workroom for maintenance. There is no space to put in a workroom.
The children’s library has been offering innovative programming that has encouraged greater use of the library among preschool and elementary students. The popularity of the programming has resulted in greater participation, which has caused some people to be turned away due to lack of room. Turning a child away from a library should be considered criminal.
Adult programming is restricted by the inadequacy of the capacity of the two meeting rooms. Some popular programming has resulted in turning away patrons. In addition, the two rooms are consistently booked for a wide variety of community organizations.
As the library has added computer services and electronic resources, wiring within the building has become a poorly integrated mesh of electrical closets and wires. A new library would provide an overall master plan for electrical use that would be more efficient and considerably safer.
As plans for a new library are considered, I sincerely hope that patrons will review these concerns and support the efforts for a new and expanded library.
Joplin Library Board member