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McCall seeks to expand its library

Story time can attract as many as 50 children to the McCall Public Library. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Story time can attract as many as 50 children to the McCall Public Library. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Every room serves three or four purposes at the McCall Public Library – even the director’s office.

Library Director Meg Lojek shares her office with the 3D printer, receiving for book donations, the janitor’s cleaning and supply closet, and the Friends of the Library office.

The room designated for the Eames Collection also doubles as the library’s only community meeting room – with the two-person programming librarian’s “office” tucked in the corner.

The break room with sink and refrigerator also is where reserved books are housed and new periodicals, books and DVDs are processed.

“We have no study rooms,” Lojek said. “I would love to provide quiet space. We’re shoehorning our summer reading program into the crumbling back parking lot.”

The 4,500-square-foot library in McCall with 34,000 books may be the largest library between Boise and Lewiston, but the 1972 edifice has far outgrown its functionality as the population has nearly doubled from 1,750 to 3,200 since it was built, said Amy Rush, the library’s campaign coordinator.

Campaign coordinator Amy Rush (left) and library director Meg Lojek confer within the stacks at the McCall Public Library. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Campaign coordinator Amy Rush (left) and library director Meg Lojek confer within the stacks at the McCall Public Library. Photo by Teya Vitu.

“In McCall, one of the really important functions the library has is as a meeting space,” said Rush, bemoaning the lack of room in the small Eames Collection that is the library’s only meeting space. “It’s not ideally suited. Think of a club trying to meet at a coffeehouse.”

Plus, the concept of a public library has also changed from the traditional idea of  high, narrow rows of books.

meg-lojek-1-cropped

Meg Lojek

“We love books but we do so much more now,” Lojek said. “The challenge is fitting the new needs into the old space.”

The library is in the “very, very beginning” phase of considering a $5.8 million, 12,000-square-foot, two-story expansion. A capital campaign has not started yet, nor has the dollar amount for the campaign been determined, Rush said.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Rush said. “The campaign can change course at any time. Generally, campaigns like this are a three- to five-year process.”

No architect has been hired. Design work likely will start in the next two years, Lojek said.

The library, a city entity, sits across a driveway from City Hall. The library expansion likely would include a new City Council meeting space for 80 people that could be used by other community groups, Lojek said.

The city of McCall seeks to add 12,000 square feet to the 4.500-square-foot McCall Public Library that was built in 1972. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The city of McCall seeks to add 12,000 square feet to the 4.500-square-foot McCall Public Library that was built in 1972. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The City Council now meets in a Legion Hall in the basement of City Hall.

The library has an Idaho Room tucked in back. The new library concept places the Idaho Room on the second floor with windows facing Payette Lake.

Lojek is considering three small study rooms and two medium conference rooms for the expanded library. There will be children, teen and adult leisure areas and a fireplace.

“We can serve everyone,” Lojek said. “It will hold the fabric of the community together. Because we are a strong tourism base, it’s easy to forget those who live here.”

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.