Library seeks public opinion |

Library seeks public opinion

Kirk Caraway

What do Carson City residents want in a public library?

That is the question library officials are posing so they can find out how best to serve the community.

About 80 people attended “Envisioning the new Carson City Library,” a presentation Thursday night at the Nevada State Library and Archives. The presentation showed photos of library facilities around the world in order to generate ideas and discussion on what Carson City needs.

Attendees were asked to fill out comment cards to register their desires for or against building a new library.

“What we were trying to do is get people to say they like that, or hate that, (they) like traditional, modern, and let us know what they really want,” said Sara Jones, director of the Carson City Library. “We want this to be the community library.”

The library received at $65,000 grant to hire consultant Page + Moris to assess the need for a new library in Carson City. The recommended size is more than double the current 21,532-square-foot facility on Roop Street.

Surveys were sent to 6,000 Carson City residents, and the 1,200 that came back concluded that residents want one main, central library and not separate branches.

What they are trying to determine now is what residents want the library to look like.

“If you have an interesting building, a compelling building, with integrated art, it goes way beyond the traditional library and is a draw for people to come and visit,” Jones said.

Jones related a story about a trip to Seattle and how a cab driver started bragging about their cutting-edge library.

“It becomes a point of civic pride, of investment in the community,” Jones said. “But it doesn’t mean you have to spend an incredibly enormous amount of money.”

The Phoenix Public Library is an example of a building that has a very modern, compelling design, but was very economical to build, according to Jones.

“Some people said, ‘This is big-city stuff, and we’re a small city,'” Jones said. “I counter that by saying Cheyenne, Wyo. managed to do it. Pahrump has a beautiful library. Why can’t we? Our library here is equivalent to the one in Round Mountain, Nev. Maybe we need to step up.”

Integrating art is an important consideration, and Jones said they are working with different groups such as Carson City Arts Initiative, Brewery Arts Center and Nevada Arts Council to figure out how to include art into a new structure.

Special attention is also being paid to space for children’s activities, as well as outdoor space to make the facility a place that attracts more people.

In the end, it’s up to the people of Carson City to decide what they want for a library, Jones said.

“This is a public library, and it will have to get public funding,” Jones said. “If the public says no way, we can’t do it.”

Jones pointed out how the city has built new facilities for the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, courthouse and senior center, and how nice those structures look.

“There is a part of me that says, ‘It’s our turn,'” Jones said.

The exhibit will remain in the gallery of the state library building through June, and Jones urges residents to stop by and fill out survey cards.

“We aren’t trying to build the Taj Mahal,” Jones said. “We want to build the library that the community wants. In order to build the library the community wants, they have to tell us what they want.”