A Place for Us
The west side branch of the Cedar Rapids Public Library, called the Ladd Library, will permanently extend the civic, academic, economic, social and technological impact of a strong library system to both sides of the Cedar River.
In designing this practical, economical and utilitarian new branch, Library leaders kept sight of the fact that, while society changes and technology evolves, the Library’s mission remains timeless:
Mission: The Cedar Rapids Public Library is a passionate advocate for literacy and lifelong learning.
Vision: The Cedar Rapids Public Library exists to impact our community and transform its quality of life through education, civic engagement, the arts and entertainment.
West Side History and Present
In the year prior to the 2008 flood, the Library circulated approximately 250,000 items from its 2,500 square-foot storefront branch in Westdale Mall – roughly the same amount circulated by Davenport or Sioux City in 2010. In that same year, 1.2 million items were borrowed from the main library. As they do today, the numbers were proving that people in Cedar Rapids were taking advantage of their public libraries.
In order to bring essential library service back to Cedar Rapids after the flood, the storefront location was moved and expanded to occupy several new locations within the mall to become a temporary, 32,000 square-foot, main Library. Since its opening in February 2009, annual visits to and material circulation from the temporary location continue to rise.
Two years of booming business at the temporary location and positive feedback from the community reaffirmed for the Board of Trustees that a significant west side branch must be established and continue to operate after the new main library downtown opens in the summer of 2013. Library leaders found a right-sized, well suited location across Williams Boulevard SW from Westdale Mall to best serve the west side of Cedar Rapids and surrounding Linn County communities.
A Story of Utility and Innovation
The Ladd Library is a 21,000 square-foot branch facility on the city's west side.
The new library is:
- An open floor plan with clear lines of sight means unprecedented operational efficiency. The branch can be run by as few as two staff members.
- Automated materials handling technologies attached to the drive up book drop alleviate book processing and shelving time, making materials available to customers sooner.
- Self-check kiosks minimize checkout lines and free up staff to help on the service floor.
- Renovating an existing building made this project more economical. In 2010, the average cost for library construction was $248/square foot (sf). The estimated construction cost for the Ladd Library was $72/sf--71% less than the national average.
- The branch will cost $696,000 to operate annually. Rent from Iowa Substance Abuse and Information Center, fines collection and private fundraising will amount to $145,000 in annual revenue. The remaining $551,000 is roughly 12% of the City’s total annual allocation for the Library.
- This vibrant and well-organized space is full of natural light, an attribute that was missing from the temporary location in Westdale Mall.
- Furniture and decor mirror the design choices of the new main Library downtown, allowing visitors to enjoy a quality library experience in both locations.
- Public art display areas offer opportunities to view a rotating gallery of works by local artists.
- Restored art that once hung in the flooded library downtown is now on display.
- Modern retail design includes comfortable seating areas for casual personal interaction.
- Individuals and organizations are able to reserve and use the community room as a classroom, meeting room, party room or workshop setting.
- Patrons with their own laptops, smart phones or other Wi-Fi devices can enjoy free Wi-Fi throughout the building and plenty of plug-in options.
- 20 computer stations will offer free public-access computing and internet to all, including children who will enjoy their own brightly colored computers loaded with enriching software for kids.
In case you missed it earlier ...
- The Ladd Library helps to strengthen the Metro Library Network (Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha libraries) by expanding its geographic boundaries and available resources.
- The Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center and Clearinghouse (ISAIC) bases its operations from the Ladd Library, supporting education, prevention and treatment efforts throughout Iowa by supplying information and referral services regarding substance abuse, problem gambling and tobacco use.