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Library feasibility study to be ready by fall
March 18, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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By the fall of 2016, the Gering City Council should have a feasibility study that will outline options for possible expansion of the Gering Public Library or determine whether a new building would be a better option.

Library President Suzanne Myers touched on the need as she highlighted some of the library’s activities for council members during their March 14 meeting. One of the library’s ongoing successes is the Summer Reading Program for children, teens and adults. Last year, adults read more than 1,000 books during the summer. Plus, there were 452 youth participants.

Myers said the space challenge at the library became evident as the average attendance for story time is 30 children. An average of 40 teens attend the library’s monthly movie program. The library also hosts a number of afterschool programs, from the Lego Club to Coder Dojo, where teens learn computer programming.

“We use the community room a lot, which is downstairs,” she said. “We’re a little concerned about the access. We do have the ADA lift available, but it’s a challenge to use.”

Myers referenced a comprehensive document outlining the library’s history, which had been distributed to council members. That document includes minutes from discussions they’ve had about the library’s future building needs.

A 2012 survey of the community found residents want the library to remain in the downtown area, within walking distance of the schools. Since 2009, the city has investigated several possible locations but none were suitable.

“We have one location that might be the best,” Myers told council members. “Legion Park is near downtown and a library would still allow for lots of room for park activity.”

She added that with development of the downtown plaza, which will include a performance stage area, the Legion Park stage may no longer be needed.

An ADA handicap access study of the Legion Park area will be done over the next few months to determine how a library could best serve the community.

Council members have already approved a study to determine potential costs of building a new library at Legion Park, how much space would be needed and a construction timeline.

“We need more space for all the services we provide,” Myers said. “Space is limited in our current location, so we’re looking at building new, ideally. We’d like to keep it a one story building for staffing purposes.”

Myers said funding would be the major consideration, depending on where the city is with other funding projects. Library staff would also search out grant funding opportunities.

During her presentation to the council, Myers also announced that Dr. Alan Johnson and Kerri Schnase-Berge have been named new members of the library board.
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