The Fort Madison Public Library is celebrating a significant anniversary.
It was Dec. 3, 2007 that the city’s new library opened its doors at 1920 Avenue E. The old Valley Medical Building was renovated after a year-old fundraising campaign.
The new Fort Madison Public Library replaced the downtown Cattermole Library and the Idol Rashid Memorial Library branch.
Library Director Sarah Clendening said the new library gets plenty of use.
“It’s been very exciting to see the reaction of the public and how thrilled they are with the space,” said Clendening. “It has great lighting and it is a little more comfortable if you just want to sit down and read (compared to Cattermole.)”
She said the new library also provides more opportunities when it comes to technology and accessibility.
“There were stairs just to get up to the main floor (in Cattermole) and then to get up to the children’s area, there were more stairs,” said Clendening. “You could put in an elevator, but to do that, we would have lost so much space that the collection, which was already cramped in there, we could not have housed it.”
She said there are no stairs in the new facility, so anyone who can get out can use the library.
Clendening said membership numbers have not jumped much, but the number of people coming in has nearly tripled. She believed that is linked to regular patrons visiting more often than they did in the past.
The new facility has also opened up opportunities for community meetings and programming.
“We are about three blocks from Lincoln Elementary School and a block from Fort Madison High School,” said Clendening. “So it is much easier for students to get here. We are (also) in a much more residential area so there is a significant portion of (the) population that lives within walking distance.”
She said, over the next five years, the Fort Madison Public Library would like to expand opportunities for young adults and to look into the idea of adding small-scale study rooms.