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Farley neighbors come together to save city’s public library

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 7:27 PM CDT
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FARLEY, Iowa (KCRG) - People in Farley have come together to find a new space for the town library. The library in the Dubuque County town used to be inside the Drexler Middle School building but closed last month after the Western Dubuque Community School District decided it needed the space for an expansion.

Joyce Jarding has lived in Farley for more than 50 years. She was never a regular at the town library but recognized its importance.

I just think in small communities there are very few things that all of the community can participate in,” she mentioned. “I feel the library fills that role; it is a real community gathering place.”

That is why Jarding decided to join with neighbors in finding a new home for Farley’s library. The first step was to get city council’s support.

“It is easy for the naysayers to say we really do not need one and whatever,” she mentioned. “But we had 40 people come out in a huge rainstorm with storm and tornado warnings to attend that meeting.”

Jarding said council members are giving the volunteer group time to think of alternatives before making any sort of decision, so now they are going in full force. The first step is conducting a community needs analysis to find out what the community thinks about putting in the work and funds to keep the library in town. Aside from that, they are looking at a temporary space for the library, but according to Mike Wright, director of the Dubuque County Library District, locking in a location might be harder than one would think.

”Probably one of the biggest factors is the library has to be able to support the load of a library, which is very substantial,” he explained. “You are standing in front of a bookcase that probably weighs a few thousand pounds loaded up.”

He added the space would also need to be more than a few hundred square feet, something hard to come around in a town the size of Farley.

Wright said they would either have to build a new space or do some extensive renovations on current ones, which will take both time and money. In the meantime, the district is opening a mobile library twice a week in city hall.

“We have some big like four feet wide carts, four, five feet tall that we have loaded up with books, they are kept at the city hall in Farley, we send staff people out and they can check them out, there are computers there that the people can use for the few hours that we are there,” he explained.

He commented the reception to this initiative has been positive, but he is still looking forward to the day when they can set up the permanent library again.

“It is actually working okay, but it is not like having a real library,” he added. “You cannot go in there and read the newspaper, you can use the computer to get a few things taken care of, might be difficult to do a job application.”

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