Jim Staley
Out of the box ideas are welcome at the community stakeholder meeting Thursday night at the Red Bridge Mid-Continent Public Library. “That’s how we grow,” says Jim Staley, community relations and planning director for Mid-Continent Libraries. Photo by Ingrid Keizer


Community meeting set to discuss future of Red Bridge Library

By Jill Draper

Big changes are planned for the Red Bridge branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library, and local residents are being asked to help shape those changes.

Library officials will hold a meeting from 7-8 p.m. Thursday, April 13 to gather feedback on what types of services, programs and outreach activities people would like to see in the future.

“A big focus for us is to become a community resource. What might that look like? We don’t know yet,” says Jim Staley, community relations and planning director. He says library staff will do more listening than talking, and out-of-the-box ideas are welcome. “That’s how we grow,” he says.

The Mid-Continent Public Library is holding similar stakeholder meetings this spring at all 31 branches throughout the system. Issues that have come up at other locations include requests for dedicated public meeting rooms, expanded hours, additional technology resources and community partnerships—including partnerships with local schools like the Center School District.

Changes slated for the Red Bridge branch are especially exciting. In February the library system announced plans to work with the Wonderscope Children’s Museum on designing a new facility to be located west of the current building, which would then be available for a different purpose.

The museum has begun a $12 million campaign to fund the new 30,000-square-foot project, and Staley says he’s optimistic the money will be raised.

“Our board wants this partnership to work, and we believe it will result in a unique shared building.” At the April 13 meeting, though, he says officials also will discuss a fallback plan—how to improve the library’s current space if the museum project is not able to be accomplished.

The Red Bridge branch was built in 1987 and has 12,314 square feet with 54 parking spaces. Staley says the earliest a new building shared with Wonderscope might happen is late 2018, but there are many considerations to work through.

The funds for improving libraries in the Mid-Continent system will come largely from Proposition L, a property tax increase passed by voters in November. Library users who cannot attend the April 13 meeting at the Red Bridge branch may share their views through an online survey that will be sent to all cardholders who have registered their email addresses (ask any library staff member how to do this). A courtesy registration for attending the meeting is requested at mymcpl.org/community.

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