Proposed designs for Carroll’s new two-story library, pending a successful referendum that is set for Aug. 1, include a glass-walled makerspace that could be used for a variety of projects and events, a “social stair” architects say is a popular feature at libraries across the country, expanded program space and more.
Proposed designs for Carroll’s new two-story library, pending a successful referendum that is set for Aug. 1, include a glass-walled makerspace that could be used for a variety of projects and events, a “social stair” architects say is a popular feature at libraries across the country, expanded program space and more.

May 23, 2017

The Carroll City Council moved forward with the city’s library/City Hall project Monday, voting unanimously for an Aug. 1 referendum that, if passed, would greenlight a project discussed in Carroll for more than a decade.

If more than 60 percent of voters support the project, Carroll’s City Hall will move to the Commercial Savings Bank building on Adams Street that has been gifted to the city, while the Carroll Public Library will expand within the Farner Government Building, becoming a two-story facility with an all-glass entryway, more space for programs and events, a “makerspace” and “social stairs” and more.

Because of the donation of the bank building, city officials have said, this plan to expand Carroll’s library — several others have failed in the past — comes with a bonus: An improved City Hall, as well.

The current targeted project cost to renovate both buildings is $6.8 million. Much of that cost covers needed plumbing, electrical and HVAC improvements in each building. Of the proposed total, the library foundation has committed to raising $2.5 million, and $500,000 of city local-option sales-tax funds have been allocated. The referendum would authorize up to $3.8 million in bonds to fund the rest of the project.

One of the most interesting aspects of the library design, city officials agreed, is a “social stair” that would dominate the library’s entrance. The wider, open stair-like structure next to one of the library’s staircases could have a variety of uses: People can sit on it to read or listen to music, and groups can gather on it for events, speakers or movie showings — the landing at the bottom of the staircase can double as a stage, and a screen and projector could be set up against the library’s front wall for movie nights, with the graduated steps becoming theater seating that could seat close to 50 people.

The space would fit well into library staff’s stated need for areas in the library that serve a variety of purposes, Danielle Hermann, of OPN Architects in Des Moines, told council Monday evening.

“I’m excited for the eye appeal, not just outside but inside,” council member Clay Haley said. “I love that stairway — to put so much value into an area, I thought, was very impressive.”

The library also would include a makerspace — an open, glass-walled room that would provide space for any number of creative or technological projects, as well as a community room, technology area, children’s area, adult and teen spaces and more.

At the new City Hall, the one-floor design would bring the City Council chambers onto the same floor as the city offices, making the building more convenient for citizens, city officials said.

During the initial design process, city staff members and representatives from OPN have identified ways to reduce the project’s cost, including through scaling down the new library’s entryway, reusing furniture where possible and removing the staff restrooms, staff entrance and elevator, which would have been used only by staff, in City Hall. The original project cost estimate approached $7.5 million.

Carroll’s new library director, Rachel Van Erdewyk, said in a past interview that more, flexible space will only become more important at Carroll’s library.

“Libraries are having to transition from a book depository to a place to create and be innovative and share information and ideas,” she said. “A lot of libraries are reinventing their space ... so I think that is really something we need to do.

Programs are a way of sharing information and learning more about the community, and it’s a way to come together, and the library can be that space.”