Library Board wrestles with the same questionsMembers of the James River Valley Library System Library Board continued dealing with pressing questions about the future of the system’s aging bookmobile and two buildings.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Members of the James River Valley Library System Library Board continued dealing with pressing questions about the future of the system’s aging bookmobile and two buildings.
“Right now, the number one question that I get asked, several times a week, is ‘When are we going to get a new library?’” said Joe Rector, director of the JRVLS at Wednesday’s meeting of the Library Board.
“The number two question that I get asked is ‘We’re not leaving this library, are we?’ People have mixed feelings about it, including, I think, us.”
The Library Board continues to investigate two major options for consolidating its two existing facilities, Alfred Dickey Library and the Stutsman County Library.
One possibility is purchasing the site of the Essentia clinic, which is relocating near Jamestown Regional Medical Center. Then a new library facility would be built, consolidating both libraries’ collections.
The other possibility is purchasing a building adjacent to Alfred Dickey Library, gutting it and renovating it and Alfred Dickey.
Deciding between the two options has been complicated by several factors.
First among them is a developing situation with the Stutsman County Library, which shares a building with the James River Community Center and Senior Services. The building’s public bathrooms are on the senior center’s side of the building.
However, the senior center is vacating the building, which is owned by Stutsman County. The tenant expressing interest in the building, Progress Enterprises, would not be able to allow the public to use the bathrooms.
Building new bathrooms is not in the library’s budget for next year and the library could not remain open without handicapped-accessible bathrooms.
Another complicating factor is the library’s bookmobile. Though nothing is wrong with it, the 36-foot bookmobile is 15 years old and has 90,000 miles on it.
Its massive size means it eats through a lot of gas and cannot be parked in the alley by Alfred Dickey Library.
It’s also difficult to find people willing to drive the bookmobile, Rector said.
“I’m not in a rush, but I would like us to create a five-year plan and have an idea of what we particularly want to do,” Rector said of the bookmobile.
Replacing the bookmobile with a smaller vehicle could allow the library to build a garage for it, either at a renovated Alfred Dickey Library or at the Essentia site.
The bookmobile would still visit the same locations it goes to now, and the book collection inside it would be changed out more often, Rector said.
Currently the bookmobile is housed at Stutsman County Library.
The bookmobile remains extremely popular with people in rural Stutsman County, checking out more than 400 books per visit in some places, said Lynn Krueger, Library Board member.
The bookmobile and senior center aren’t the only issues involved in deciding whether to build a new library or expand and renovate Alfred Dickey, either.
Cost has also been a major factor in discussions between Library Board members.
Purchasing the Essentia site would cost $600,000, or $690,000 for a shovel-ready site with the existing building and its asbestos removed. Add to that the cost of a brand-new building, which has been roughly estimated at $8 million or more.
Purchasing the Maranatha building adjacent to Alfred Dickey would cost $325,000, a price which has risen from the $250,000 it would have cost last year. One estimate for the cost of renovations was $4.1 million.
“If we could save this building for the next 100 years, I think it’s worth it to have something that’s not as modern as a brand-new library,” Rector said.
He pointed out several issues with the rough design for a new building on the Essentia site.
“The children’s area does not have enough space for even the current book collection we already have,” Rector said, adding it also had no craft room, play area or story area. “I’m just giving you my opinion. We would be disappointed pretty quickly after moving in here.”
He presented a tweaked version of the rough designs for the Essentia site that would include those spaces.
He also offered an altered version of the preliminary plans for the Alfred Dickey renovations.
Time could become a factor in either the Maranatha plan or the Essentia plan, as a possible influx of people could potentially drive land prices up in the Jamestown area in the next few years.
Krueger said two other groups are interested in the Essentia property, and Essentia may even keep it for its own use later.
Another factor in the mix is that the Library Board had already asked the Jamestown City Council for permission to buy the Essentia site in April 2011, but was denied — an action which surprised the Library Board.
On Wednesday, Krueger expressed frustration with the lack of progress on the facilities issue.
“We are in the exact same place as we were when I walked in the door five years ago,” Krueger said, adding that he hoped the Library Board could do some fundraising of its own toward whatever facilities project is chosen.
“We got the legs cut out from under us by the City Council,” said Dale Marks, chairman of the Library Board and Stutsman County commissioner.
The Library Board directed Rector to meet with someone from the Jamestown City Council and the Stutsman County Commission to discuss the facility issues.
In other action Wednesday, the Library Board agreed to increase Rector’s salary from $40,000 to $48,000 due to a misunderstanding about health insurance in the oral contract agreement.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at