WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – After 25 years, the West Des Moines Public Library underwent some major renovations.
It took about $3 million to spruce up the building that broke ground in 1996. A lot of planning went into the project, including interviews with different library stakeholders and users.
Walk inside and you’ll see new carpet, new furniture, and new fixtures. One strategic change was the layout.
“That was something that they identified as a need,” Library Director Darryl Eschete said. “They said if you want to make sure that the people can use this building comfortably, if you want to make sure that people can use this building without having run-ins with each other, you really need to make a space for [teens.] They sort of presented the teens as future taxpayers. You need to make sure that they don’t become alienated from your space just because of bad geography, which is really what it was.”
Thus the creation of the “Teen Center,” an area on the first floor with collaboration spaces and separate from adults by design.
Eschete says there’s a place for everyone at the library, and hopes the renovations that improve the technology, safety, and appearance reflect that.
“This is a Polk County cooling center for instance in the dead of summer, and we’re a warming center in the dead of winter,” Eschete said. “We want the place to be comfortable. We want people to feel like they can come here, and so having an environment that’s comfortable, well lit, clean. It’s very important I think to communicate to the taxpayer, we’re doing something for you with the money that you’re obligated to pay anyway.”
The renovation project has been a couple of years in the making, with temporary closures during the pandemic actually speeding up the process.
Normal summer hours have resumed at the West Des Moines Public Library.