Local libraries officially merge here on Jan. 1The joint Stutsman County and Jamestown library system that voters chose more than a year ago will become official Jan. 1. The joint library board, made up of city and county members, has a working name for the new entity — the James River Valley Library System. Once the changeover is complete, the present city and county library boards will be dissolved.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
The joint Stutsman County and Jamestown library system that voters chose more than a year ago will become official Jan. 1.
The joint library board, made up of city and county members, has a working name for the new entity — the James River Valley Library System. Once the changeover is complete, the present city and county library boards will be dissolved.
For years, the two libraries operated as separate entities, with county property owners supporting their library and city property owners supporting theirs. The Stutsman County Library focused primarily on its bookmobile, which carried library materials to schools and communities in the county while the Alfred Dickey Public Library provided walk-in services. The vote in the November 2008 general election changed that by combining the two. Since then, a joint library board has been working out the logistics of creating a single entity and the individual boards have continued to meet.
“The two boards have been doing the basic upkeep of the two libraries — the nuts and bolts of day-to-day work,” said Jim Nyland, vice chairman of the joint library board. “As of Jan. 1 it’s no longer two separate libraries, it’s our library system.”
At the present time, the county’s library and the city’s library occupy different buildings. Both have walk-in hours, which Acting Director Daphne Drewello said will stay the same.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how busy the county’s facility is,” she said. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Drewello took over as acting director of both facilities when Stutsman County Library Director Agnes Jensen retired Oct. 31. Drewello said she’s been working with the county library staff on updating materials and stocking more books for walk-ins and the bookmobile. She and the staff are also looking at ways to improve services there.
“That facility acts as a branch (library),” Nyland said
But the joint library board is pursuing construction of a new building, large enough to house both libraries and the bookmobile. Out of the 26 sites it has looked at, the board has settled on two sites to explore more seriously.
“The joint board is months ahead of where it was expected to be. Everyone came in cautious, but with their eyes on the prize,” Nyland said. “We’ve looked at sites and relooked at sites and finally narrowed it down to two choices.”
The Eagles site has long been considered the most viable for a new building. Now the joint library board has also added the Innovis Clinic site for consideration. Nyland said according to the board’s architect, Michael Burns, the Innovis site would allow a more flexible building design.
“We’d be locked into a certain shape on the Eagles site,” Nyland said. “But both have their attractions.”
Drewello said regardless of the site, the buildings would have to be razed. Innovis, located at the corner of Third Street and Fourth Avenue Southeast, also owns the house next door. That, too, would need to be demolished to provide sufficient space for a new library.
“That’s really all we know now,” she said. “Whether Innovis would sell or what the price would be for that site or for the Eagles, we don’t know. The board just wanted to pick a couple of sites.”
“You can’t keep looking at buildings,” Nyland said. “It was time to get past the ‘have you looked at’ phase. We didn’t want to be in process forever.”
Although the Innovis site has a design plus, the plus for the Eagles site is its proximity to the Arts Center, Nyland said.
“A partnership with the Arts Center in providing services to kids would make the Eagles site doubly attractive,” he said. “If all else were similar between the two, the Arts Center would be a huge tipping factor.”
Among its other duties in the new year, Drewello said, the joint library board will be advertising the director’s position.
“With so much else to take care of the director position has been on the back burner,” she said. “But whoever is hired needs to be involved from the beginning of the building project.”
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at email@example.com