Preliminary findings to be brought to December council meeting
By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - Plans for expanding the Cokato Public Library/Museum building is underway and committee members met with the architectural firm Tuesday.
With several sites evaluated, it was determined that expanding the current building to the north would be the most conducive and cost-effective, according to Sheila Rieke, Cokato branch manager.
Being combined with the museum would also allow for great opportunities to receive funding through grants, Rieke said. The site is already owned by the city, which is also an advantage, according to Rieke.
A site/needs analysis has begun with project manager Gayle Mack of SEH, Inc. to get a better idea of what the Cokato Public Library’s needs are, as well as the Cokato Museum’s needs in a possible expansion.
At the Oct. 13 Cokato City Council meeting, the council agreed to help fund a site analysis that would lay the groundwork for going forward with a possible museum/library expansion.
The council would contribute $10,000 of the $20,000 total cost of the analysis with the other portion divided between the Friends of the Cokato Area Library (FOCAL) and the Cokato Historical Society.
Mack will take the needs and wants from the discussions and present preliminary findings to the council at the Monday, Dec. 14 meeting. Such findings will include the recommended size of the building, identifying program elements (additional rooms), and a cost estimate.
Needs and wants
Expansion committee members, library staff, and residents discussed what they thought an expansion should accommodate. The overall theme of the discussion was the need for more space.
It was suggested there be more space for laptop users to sit and work, along with additional computer work spaces.
Rieke said she has seen people sitting in their car outside the library to access its wireless Internet.
A larger children’s area within the library was also recommended for such things as story times and other programing.
More comfortable seating overall throughout the library and a place for book clubs to gather, was also suggested.
Additional shelving and display space is also a priority with too many books currently on each shelf leaving no room for display space, Rieke said.
Ruth Ann Licht attended the meeting and suggested a quieter area for readers, but said that would automatically come with a larger library and seating not being so close to the checkout.
It was also recommended there be a special work area or room devoted to the FOCAL group, and to have books on sale year-round.
“The meeting went very well,” Rieke said.
“Not only are we looking at the functionality in a library, but we are also looking at . . . a building for the future . . . with versatile space,” Rieke said.
Space was also a common theme for the needs and wants described by Cokato Museum Director Mike Worcester.
“Right now, we have museum artifacts stored in two different buildings,” Worcester said.
“It would be nice to get them back under one roof,” he added.
Worcester would also like to have more work space for museum staff and a larger research area for genealogy and other types of historical research.
A meeting room for the historical society was also suggested.
“She asked all the right questions,” said Mayor Bruce Johnson, who attended both meetings.
Even if the council decides now is not the right time for an expansion, the information can be used in the future, he explained.