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First library ‘advisory task force’ meeting held
library ‘advisory task force’
From left to right, Kevin Eipperle, Michael Gehl, and Christy Monk from FEH Designs lead the first of four, Dwight-Parker Public Library “advisory task force” meetings on a possible remodel or new build for Fennimore’s public library Photo by Jason Kreul
Lambeau Field has been remodeled over the years, the old Yankee Stadium has been replaced, and here in Fennimore, time has come for the Dwight Parker Public Library to have a face lift or possibly move on to a different location.
        Remodeling or building anew was the core issue at the first of four “advisory task force” meetings held at the Memorial Building on Feb. 26.
        Representatives from FEH Design, a collaborative design firm out of Dubuque, were on hand, along with Dwight Parker Public Library Director Cathy Smith to provide information on potential design plans and field feedback and guidance from the close to 50 people who attended the meeting.
        21st century library
        FEH representatives Kevin Eipperle and Christy Monk during their presentation showed those in attendance some of the “modern features” that make up a “21st century public library.”
        Meeting rooms and making spaces for young adults are both points of emphasis as some of the features of a ‘modern library,” are:
        Flexible spaces with movable furnishings
        Integrated technology
        Gathering areas/all purpose room for events
        Classroom/training areas
        Booths, couches, and other comfortable/lounge seats
        As Monk stated, although “the current library fits a lot into a little space,” but more can be done with a larger area.
        Library statistics
        When going over the “library stats,” Smith noted that in 2023, the library had an estimate of 11, 849 visits, with the current configuration being able to seat 11 people at one time, 986 uses of the four computers on hand,  27,650 materials on hand (books, periodicals, DVDs, audio books, etc.) And the one private room available for five people was used 185 times.
        Smith also noted that she is “monthly having to turn down people who want to have larger group meetings,” due to the current meeting room size.
        Expanding the meeting room to accommodate 50 people, up from its current size of fitting 11 people for be ideal Smith and the FEH reps explained.
        From there, citizen suggestions began pouring in.
        The overall mood was in favor of updated the current library in some fashion.
        Some suggestions made were:
        A multi media room with smart boards, green screen, etc for practicing speeches/presentations
        Larger study rooms, fitting four people than the suggested two
        A ‘fun teen area” for “hangouts
        Larger meeting rooms to accommodate group meetings such as book clubs, 4-H, tax advising, etc.
        A possible “streaming room,” where people who don’t have access could watch shows from Netflix, Disney+, Hulu just to name a few. Licensing right would have to be taken into account on that suggestion.
        ADA compliance
        But the most glaring need is for the current library to become complainant with the Americians with Disabilities Act (ADA).
        The current “split level” configuration is not wheelchair accessible for those wanting to go to each level of the library.
        The main solution to the issue would be to provide an elevator for interior floor access among a few other improvements to bring the library at his current location to a “minimum level of accessibility,”  Eipperle explained.
        Cost and new site?
        Which leads us into cost. To remodel, renovate, and add to the current library, when broken down into three areas would be:
        Interior- $13,750
        Exterior - $53,600
        Accessibility (ADA) - $269,900
        Grand total - $351,350
        Building a whole new one level larger, library is another option being “tossed around.”
        Just a jumping off point, FEH located 22 locations in the City of Fennimore that could potentially be used for a “built from scratch” new library.
        Some of the site were available and for sale such as the former World of Variety location, while a few others were not on market, but could be potentially if one of the few narrowed down. The current owners would be contacted for interest.
        An ideal site would be 26,000 sq. ft, or roughly half a city block, to allow for the building itself and for parking.
        “Spark” sessions and upcoming meetings
        But whether the current library would be expanded and remodeled, or a new one is built, community members have a chance to let their opinions be heard and the two upcoming “Spark” sessions, as well as three more informative meetings.
        The two “Spark” sessions will be held on Thursday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 12, at the library. The sessions,  hosted by FEH, are an “all-day event,” (9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and are described as a “fast paced, engaging, highly focused idea session.”
        In other words, feel free to stop in and “throw out ideas” to the representative of FEH Design, where they will be literally sketching/drawing out ideas for improvements to the library.
        As Eipperle stated, “no idea is too crazy, and we will study every possibility,”
        The remaining task force/informative meetings are scheduled for Thursday, March 7, Tuesday, March 12, and Monday, March 25, all at 6 p.m., and all at the Memorial Building.

        At the final March 25 meeting, FEH will be make a recommendation of the preferred option(s) based on the feedback from the previous meetings.