Task force recommends a new Grand Forks library

At its final meeting Thursday evening, a task force recommended constructing a new building to house the Grand Forks Public Library.

The Library Working Group, assembled to propose action for the facility, found that building a new library was the best of four possible scenarios.

The other three options were doing nothing, completing basic building and equipment upgrades and remodeling and expanding the building.

“As I said at the last meeting, this is the beginning of a process and not the end,” said Chairwoman Sandi Marshall. “This will be laying the foundation for the future.”

The cost to complete basic fixes is about $8 million while remodeling and expanding the library could run up to $14 million. A new building could cost more than $15 million.

The task force based its recommendations on feedback from community members who attended public forums, filled out an online questionnaire or were in small groups interviewed by task force members and consulting staff.

About 130 people gave feedback during the small group meetings while the questionnaire was filled out by more than 700 people.

Data collected through the questionnaire reflected support for a new library over remodeling the existing building.

The questionnaire wasn’t scientific in nature, but consultant Mark Schill said that the method allowed for more residents to volunteer their input.

“In a scientific survey, only the folks who are part of that sample get their voice heard,” he said.

The group’s final recommendations also was based on a maintenance study conducted on the building by JLG Architects in 2012, which revealed the price for completing basic fixes, a remodel and an expansion.

The task force’s final report and recommendations will be reviewed by the Library Board at its Oct. 16 meeting. The board and a small group of volunteers then will decide how to move forward with the recommendations.

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