Library Uses Community Input to Shape Future

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) – The Cedar Rapids Library is one of 23 libraries across the nation chosen to start community conversations about the libraries within them. Officials are using that information to outline the future of its two locations.

After a failed tax levy in November, the library is facing budget cuts. Services, hours, staff, and materials could all be limited as soon as March 2016. Officials held a community session Wednesday night to see what citizens want from their library.

“Certainly in times of with less resources we have to make harder decisions about the choices we make,” library director Dara Schmidt said. “We want to still have a balanced community library where we are giving as much as we can to as many people we can, but we have to make great decisions that are based in community need in the direction we're given."

More than 40 people sat in small groups and were asked a set of questions. Some read, “What factors bring like to this community” and “What are the critical step to make the library strive”.

Attendees discussed those answers and gave personal accounts on why the library is important to them.

“I think that the library is pretty much providing every possible service to this community from books, DVDs, a safe place to gather and just spend time and have our children learn and play," Hassan Selim said.

Selim said it was important to voice his opinion because the library is important to him and his family. He said he hopes to see the resources stay available and become well known.

“I think I want to see the library doing more outreach so that people know about it, and know about the different services that it really provides,” Selim said. “I think part of the problem is not many people know about the library and how awesome it is.”

“We hope this will lead to new partnerships, enhanced efficiencies and great vision for the future of the library in a community resource,” Schmidt said. “Not just in light of our current budgetary issues, but in the grand scheme of our true vision for what the community of Cedar Rapids can be.”

The library’s board of trustees will use the information from Wednesday night in a future strategic planning meeting.