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Newton Public Library proposes new floor plan

Library reaches 25 year anniversary

The Newton Public Library has undergone cosmetic changes in the past year with the most dramatic changes recently proposed in order to improve the library’s interior elements.

The library board is proposing an interior remodeling, which would include a new layout, service desks, paint and carpeting, and could occur this winter if approved by the Newton City Council. Funds for the project would come from the city’s TIF district.

Library Director Nicole Lindstrom said the 25-year-old library is due for an upgrade. One focus of the new floor plan is to execute a more open layout when patrons enter the library.

“We need to use the space we have to make a friendlier flow, and when people walk in, they will now know where to go,” Lindstrom said. “We want a vibrant and fresh look.”

Another element that has prompted a change is patrons asking for more desks to sit at and for more study space.

The new design plan features an exceptional amount of more sitting and studying space on the southwest side of the building where the newspapers and magazines will be. Additionally, one of the service desks will be moved closer to the entrance where shelves are currently.

“We are not loosing any shelf space, we are making them more friendly,” Lindstrom said.

One of the biggest priorities in the new plan will be the main service desk where patrons check out books. People who are in wheelchairs are unable to reach the desk and interact well with librarians. The plan for the desk is to be a lower, rectangular shape.

“Currently the desk is a W-shape, and it’s not ADA (American with Disabilities Act) friendly,” Lindstrom said of the desk.

Future plans include an upgraded outside with a pollinator center and garden center, as the library holds outdoor events, such as, 25th Jubilee Celebration, slated for this September. Lindstrom said the new space could allow for live music outdoors.

The library board began planning these changes in January 2016 by hiring George Lawson of Library Planning in Ames, through funds donated by the Friends of the Library.

“Lawson conducted a space utilization study, and his findings are what the board decided to progress forward with,” Lindstrom said.

Since then, the library board has worked to find funding for the new carpet, new service desks and rearrangement of the library stacks.

“Now is when we will begin to work with a design firm to come up with the plans to start the “renovation” of sorts, so it is in the beginning stages and will not occur until the winter of 2017 going into 2018 — or possibly later as it will take a lot of planning,” Lindstrom said.

The city council has seen the initial plans drafted by Lawson, but no definite plans have been made yet. Once the design team comes up with a plan it will be put out for an open house.

Lindstrom said the library will be able to fill out a survey and offer their opinions on what they like and dislike in regard to the library’s future plans.

“The public’s opinion is important,” Lindstrom said. “We are hired by the public to help and assist the community.”

The library will have to close for a small period of time while renovations take place. Lindstrom said the date for that hasn’t been set yet.

Internet Upgrade

Internet access has improved greatly at the Newton Public Library thanks to a much needed upgrade to the cabling supporting the network.

With a $2,500 grant awarded to the library by the Jasper Community Foundation last spring, 14 public workstations and three staff stations have had wireless access replaced with industry standard Cat6 ethernet cabling.

Although various components of the library network have been upgraded and multiplied since its original installation in 1998, the combination of too many wireless stations and original cabling had not served the Jasper County community well in recent years.

The Jasper Community Foundation’s grant award recognized the library’s need to stabilize the network and increase Internet speeds to meet the public’s demand for Internet use at the library.

The library accepted Van Maanen Electric’s bid to install the cabling, and the project was completed during the fall. Testing Internet speeds before and after the project has shown that upload speeds are more than three times faster, and download speeds are almost eight times faster than what was possible before.

Staff members have seen many fewer drop offs, interruptions of service and user complaints since the cabling was completed.

The library’s nine internet stations see an average use of 1,095 sessions per month, and the checkout stations log an average of 10,743 checkout transactions monthly. Freeing these stations from use of the wireless access points has made more room for the public’s use of the library’s WiFi for their own personal devices.

All internet traffic at the library makes use of DMACC’s internet service, a partnership established through a grant in 1998 to provide free Internet access to the Jasper County community.

Contact Kayla Langmaid at 641-792-3121 ext. 6513 or

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