Building Character Into Your Library

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I had the opportunity to visit the State Law Library of Iowa at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines recently, and I must say, if you’ve never been there, it’s well worth your time. What an amazing, gorgeous, historic room that is! It’s been labeled by many as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. There’s so much character, intricacy, charm, and detail, one could spend hours not even opening a book, but gazing upon the beauty of the library itself.

As more and more libraries focus on things like Makerspaces, collaborative learning environments, soft seating, and staying up-to-date with all the current technologies, that visit to the State Capitol was a solid reminder of the value of a library’s “character.” There are lots of older buildings across the state with librarians itching for a facelift. We work with them every day. But, before you go from 1920 straight to 2020 with your remodel, consider the significance of the history and character of your facility as there are numerous, unique ways to incorporate those historical features and elements into your plans. Consider these three as examples:

  1. North Liberty Community Library – What do you do with an old gymnasium floor that is now utilized as library space for your community? North Liberty was faced with that same question a few years ago and, with the help of Iowa Prison Industries, was able to help preserve history and be fiscally responsible by repurposing that floor as table tops for some of their library tables – free throw line markings and all. The tops were cleaned up and fastened to durable, steel frames manufactured by IPI.
  2. Beckman Catholic High School, Dyersville – Something old; Something New. Making old, uncomfortable, wooden pews into something new, IPI recently worked with Beckman Catholic to repurpose some original wooden pews into padded, comfortable and attractive booth seating in their library.
  3. Carnegie-Stout Public Library, Dubuque – Wanting to preserve the historical beauty of original carved woodwork, Carnegie-Stout Library in Dubuque utilized the craftsmanship of some talented offenders at the Iowa Prison Industries to duplicate the bookends of some new shelves in their library.

If you are looking for unique ways to add character and history into your remodeling or new construction project, contact Andrew Gogerty at IPI at 515-330-0095 or andrew.gogerty@iowa.gov to set an appointment.

North Liberty library

Beckman Catholic High School photo

End panels at Carnegie Stout Library

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