By Roger McKinney
The Joplin Public Library Board of Trustees on Friday gave its blessing to a city plan for a new library.
The board unanimously approved a resolution supporting the idea, said Jacque Gage, library director. The board of the Post Memorial Art Reference Library also met and approved a similar resolution.
“This meeting was just to say ‘Yes, let’s go for it,’” Gage said.
An agreement between the Joplin City Council and the library board also will be required.
A new library is part of the plan for a 3,100-acre tax increment financing district that encompasses the tornado zone and downtown. The library would be part of a $20 million complex at 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue that also would include a theater.
Gage said the size of the new library would be approximately 55,000 square feet based on a space needs analysis, compared with the 35,000 square feet of space in the existing building at Third and Main streets.
Gage said space is very limited in the current building and there is no room to expand.
She said there is little space for people in wheelchairs to maneuver between stacks of books.
“Our building was built before ADA,” Gage said, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Our adult area doesn’t meet ADA requirements. We want to make the library accessible to everyone.”
Parking spaces are limited, to the extent that there are times when Gage said she can’t find a space to park at the library.
She said the building also wasn’t designed with computers and other electronic equipment in mind.
“The building wasn’t designed for the electrical demands we now have,” Gage said.
There also is no dedicated space for teen programs in the library. Office space is cramped, Gage said.
“We’re out of room,” she said.
A new location also can be built to be more energy efficient, she said.
Gage said David Wallace, CEO for the city’s contracted master developer Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners, made a presentation to the library boards.
Gage said she also made a presentation regarding the library’s financial situation under the plan. She said the plan would keep the library’s funding at its current level.
“We feel that it will be a fiscally sustainable project,” Gage said of the new library.
Gage said she didn’t know the time frame for the project.
“The board is excited about the unique opportunity and its positive impact on the city,” said Charles Parker, president of the library board, in a prepared statement after the meeting.