Community / News / October 29, 2009

Galesburg library looking to expand

The Galesburg Public Library has been looking into moving out of the existing library building. The current library is located at 40 East Simmons Street. The process began in 2003 and will take over ten years to finish.

The average library in the United States has over 70,000 square feet. This is over double the space of the Galesburg Public Library, which only has 36,500 square feet. Space is clearly an issue at the current location.

Currently, the library does not offer meeting rooms or family spaces. Director of the library, Pan Van Kirk, believes that, in addition to the post office and town hall, libraries are a core part of a town. All three of these places are where gatherings happen.

The library also needs more space to hold events, such as the three-plus book clubs that meet during the month. The library puts on a lot of events for children as well.

Van Kirk and a local architect have been looking at locations all over Galesburg. Together they have looked at over 40 locations, both existing conditions and plots of land. One of the locations they looked at is the old Wal-Mart on Henderson Street. The problem with using an existing building is it can be just as expensive to renovate as building a new building. Another reason why a building like Wal-Mart will not work is because it is all one floor.

“Department stores want young mothers to come in and drag their two children from one end of the store to the other,” Van Kirk said. “However, we need convenience at a library.”

“Some people thought that with the technology boom, libraries would become extinct but in fact just the opposite happened,” Van Kirk said. One of the reasons is because the library offers free Internet. People come to find information online, but then use the library to find accurate, concise information.

Of course, many patrons use the library for borrowing books and DVDs. One book club meets once a month to view a movie similar to a book they have been reading. Sometimes it is harder to match up a movie with a book since the Galesburg movie theater does not always have a vast selection of upcoming releases. Afterwards they meet at Perkin’s to discuss the movie and book. The next meeting will happen on November 17.   

Over 200 Knox College students have library cards. That number is not complexly accurate, though, because students from the state of Illinois can use their hometown library card. The main reasons Knox students use the public library over the Knox College Seymour Library is recreational.

“Students come in here all the time to check out DVDs and books for leisure,” Van Kirk said. Seymour Library is primarily for academic use.

The Galesburg Public Library hasn’t found a spot for the new library, but it will hopefully happen in the next ten years.

Amanda White

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