The Monroe County Public Library branch in downtown Bloomington (Becca Costello, WFIU/WTIU News)
The Monroe County Public Library plans to add a third branch on the south west side of Bloomington within the next three years. The library is gathering public feedback on the proposal.
Plans for a third public library branch in Monroe County go all the way back to 2003, but never became a reality because of money.
But MCPL Director Marilyn Wood says the library now wants to open the new branch. She says the south west side of the county is the fastest growing.
"It's a growing residential area, there are many schools, there are multiple large businesses which attract even more residents," Wood says. "It’s also an area where we know we don’t have library service now. It’s an underserved area for library services."
That area of the county also has several options for land that can be developed, although Wood says they aren't targeting a specific location yet.
Wood says the need for a new branch is clear: MCPL ranks fourth in the state for circulation.
"The community needs that we’re seeing are a bit different than what libraries have been in a traditional sense, but certainly the need for libraries and information continues," Wood says. "And some of the highest groups of use are actually in the Millennial."
MCPL chose Matheu Architects to conduct a feasibility study, and part of that means finding out what residents in the area want to see in a new branch. They can give feedback in a survey or attend a public meeting next week.
Wood says it’s impossible to estimate the cost of building the branch because the design will depend on what the community wants.
"The south west part of the community may serve different needs than our downtown branch or our Ellettsville branch," Wood says. "Even though there will be some traditional core things that any library might have, we might focus on an area that’s a little bit different."
Wood says the library will likely take out a bond to pay for the construction of the new building, but she says operating costs will be covered with money saved over the past several years. She says the county won’t have to raise taxes for the project.