Major renovations coming to the La Crosse Public Library

Both the Main Street and South branch locations of the La Crosse Public Library will soon undergo major renovations.

Library staff, architects and members of the public met Monday night to discuss what to do with the renovation of the multipurpose room at the Main Street library and how to possibly combine the South Community Library with the Southside Senior Citizen Center.

Kelly Krieg-Sigman, the director of the La Crosse Public Library said, everyone is invited to attend this week’s meetings and all ideas are welcome.

“A tremendous opportunity for not just the community, but for region,” Krieg-Sigman said.

The La Crosse Public Library said community members can help shape the library into anything they see fit.

“It’s analogous to building a house. When you and your partner sit down to build your first house, the first thing you’re going to do is talk about what you want. That’s what this is,” Krieg-Sigman said.

People have suggested everything from a place to enjoy a cup of coffee to a health facility.

“There have been all sorts of ideas that have been shared with me about what could happen out there, up to and including a therapeutic pool,” Krieg-Sigman said.

Even though the current facility isn’t much to look at, Krieg-Sigman said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because there is endless potential.

She spoke of “the ability to go to this facility and pick up a library book, get your library card, buy your dog license, get a flu shot and photocopy your tax returns–all in one place.”

One of the proposals would combine the South Community Library with a senior center, but right now a challenge is making the building more accessible.

“The current building at the South Community Library site is extremely inflexible. The shelving is all built-in so you can only put the books in one place. The hallway is very narrow. The doors are not powered. It was never built for ease of accessibility,” Krieg-Sigman said.

Even though it will be a challenge, Stuart Sletten, the president of the Southside Senior Citizen Center hopes the library and senior center can figure it out, since the cenior center’s current meeting place is rapidly deteriorating.

“I think it’s extremely important. It isn’t just for us because we are a generation that will disappear. It’s for the next 50 years. When you retire, the people you meet from your working life will somewhat disappear so you get a new family,” Sletten said.

The library is hoping the renovations will serve the needs of the community for decades to come.

“For people who live here and are committed to improving this community, here’s their chance to look at a community project and get excited about it and be part of it,” Krieg-Sigman said.

There will also be meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The architects will then take all of the input they hear, draw some designs and present them to the public sometime in April or May.

Since they don’t know what the designs are yet, there’s currently no estimate of how much all of the renovations will cost.

The library is hoping to have the final designs ready to send to the city this summer.

To find for more information about the renovation and future meetings, visit lacrossepubliclibrary.org/future.

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