The Missouri River Regional Library has made two decisions that will best serve its patrons: to stay put and to expand.
For the past 20 years or so, the library has needed a place to grow. It has patiently implemented piecemeal solutions while waiting for the opportunity for more permanent expansion. Among other things, it's put books and employees in nearby buildings.
Nearly two decades ago, it announced it planned to seek another location. Now, director Claudia Cook said the library is committed to its current location, that it wants to remain an anchor to the downtown area. It plans to add a third floor at the current location, she said.
We think this is the best solution for the library and its patrons.
The library has long been a fixture of the downtown area. It's centrally located and, we believe, convenient for the most amount of people.
MRRL is surrounded on all sides by other property, but it does have some room for outward expansion. Expanding upward might make more sense. The current building was originally envisioned to have a third floor. But the costs were prohibitive at the time, Cook said in our recent coverage.
An architecture firm has come up with five proposals, each essentially adding 15,000 square feet or more of space alongside or on top of the existing library. To fund the project, MRRL plans to embark on a $2.5 million capital campaign to match the amount it has in its reserves.
"We want to fulfill the original destiny of the library and be a destination place," Cook said. "There's so much going on in the downtown area right now, and we want to be part of this progressive period in Jefferson City."
The library also is struggling to have adequate parking for its patrons and staff. It's currently working with the Cole County Commission and Jefferson City Housing Authority on possible plans to help in that regard.
We've long supported libraries as community hubs — one-stop clearinghouses for knowledge and culture. We believe our library is headed in the right direction with its current plans.