The Waukee Public Library has received multiple grants and donations lately and will use the money to make renovations to the building. The Library has $25,000 to work with as they received a $10,000 grant from the Dallas County Foundation as a part of its 2017 grant cycle, a $10,000 donation from the Waukee Public Library Friends Foundation and a $5,000 donation from the Waukee Rotary Club.
The children’s area has already seen some updates with new learning centers, including Lego tables, a Jeep book bin an “imagination station” and will also include a “baby garden.” The library will also be getting new carpet, furniture and paint, some new technology and new book shelving in the children’s area to help create more space.
Kristine Larson, the Director of the Waukee Public Library, said there is a really big need for the changes since there haven’t been any renovations done to the building since it was constructed in 2003.
“Everything needs updated, so that’s why we’re doing just kind of a makeover,” Larson said. “We’re not adding space, we’re not adding on to the building, so we’re just trying to make it look nicer for our patrons and have more things here for the kids to learn, and explore, and play with, and things to do.”
The grant received from the Dallas County Foundation is specifically going towards the children’s area of the library.
Larson said that they will be replacing their book bins with face-out picture book shelving to provide more space in the children’s area.
Larson said it’s important for them to have a children’s area with things like the learning centers and the “imagination station,” and have more than just books, magazines and movies as they strive to be family oriented.
“Kids want to come in and play with other kids, and parents are coming in and they’re networking with other parents,” Larson said. “It might be the only time of day they get out of the house and to see other kids and parents.
“So having that — the learning centers — where they can explore and play and have hands-on activities helps besides the books, so we’re providing several different ways for them to learn and explore.”
She said that having activities like that is beneficial to kids who visit.
“It’s just a fun place to be,” Larson said. “I love seeing kids come in and they want to see what’s new in the library, and play, and do things with their hands and explore. It just helps with their learning and development and it helps for moms to look for books and they can be contained too, playing.”
In 2003 when they library was built, Waukee’s population was around 7,500, but now, 14 years later, the city’s population is nearing the 20,000 mark. With the increasing population each year, Larson said that space at the library is becoming an issue and that issue spilling over into the parking lot.
“We don’t have enough parking, even, when we have story times or large events, there aren’t any places for people to park,” Larson said. “And we don’t have a way to expand our parking, so eventually, we’ll have to build a new building somewhere else in a different location.”
The space issues are on the inside as well. Larson said that they haven’t been able add books to their collection, seating or new technology and this is detrimental to the different types of people who visit the library every day.
“There are a lot of professionals and business people in town that use our library to work. They bring in their laptop and do their job here,” Larson said. “We have 16 story times a week, so we have lots of kids programming and 30 teens after school during the school year so it gets a lot of use.”
A new building for the Waukee Public Library is something that is in the early stages of being talked about as a part of the city’s discussions about infrastructure and city improvements, according to Larson.
Renovations to the current building will start in the fall and they hope to have the carpet done by late September, according to Larson. They also plan to start renovating their story time rooms next year.