Bloomington Public Library’s Board of Trustees recently completed a 10-year strategic plan for the library.

The library’s director, staff and board spent more than eight months evaluating options which may be implemented to accommodate the dramatic 167 percent circulation increase witnessed at the library during the past 10 years.

The library’s current building includes 51,000 square feet of space with no room for expansion without further reducing already inadequate parking.

Over the years, advancements in technology have been implemented to streamline the workflow of the library and to assist staff in their efforts to keep up with the increased usage of the library by the public. The addition of seven self-checkout stations and a five-bin sorter for returns has made a huge difference in cutting down material handling time with the added benefit of getting materials off patrons’ accounts and back on the shelves faster.

Statistics show a steady and growing increase in both circulation and the number of library visitors during the past 10 years; these statistics give no indication that a slowdown is on the horizon. For these reasons, at this time, an east-side branch library is being proposed to alleviate the demand being put on the library’s current Olive Street facility.

By far, statistics show that the busiest bookmobile stops are on the city’s east side. Additionally, patron distribution, usage and drive time were considered. These factors helped to determine that an east-side branch will best serve the community.

The Normal Public Library Board of Trustees was consulted about working together to find a space that could serve both libraries and the communities they serve. At this time, Normal Public Library has declined interest in a joint library effort. Normal Public Library’s current focus is on improving its existing facility.

Moving forward, several existing buildings were evaluated as possible options — the former Berean Bookstore, the vacant airport terminal and the former home of K’s Merchandise.

All were considered and all presented drawbacks as far as renovation costs, rent and space. While a vacant building could be used, the library board feels that a flexible, well-designed, new building would be its most cost-effective option. 

Building a new facility on land which is already owned by the city of Bloomington would reduce site acquisition and development costs for both the library and the city. These two entities will meet to explore and evaluate options.

The library’s director, staff and board have worked hard to be fiscally responsible and to save money for these expansion efforts. Due to this diligence, the library hopes to fund an eastside branch from capital funds and fundraising efforts. The library has not requested a tax increase to support this initiative. The library’s main branch would remain on Olive Street in downtown Bloomington.

We invite those with concerns or questions to view the library’s strategic plan which is posted on our website at www.bloomingtonlibrary.org.

Questions and concerns may also be directed to Library Director Georgia Bouda at georgiab@bloomingtonlibrary.org or via phone at (309) 557-8901.

Bouda is also willing to speak to service clubs and business groups about the strategic plan and the possibility of a future branch library.

Peggy Ann Burton is president of the Bloomington Library Board.


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