The library begins a new chapter as the remodeled building opens soon | news

Book lovers in Manning rejoice as they will soon be on their next adventure in a larger space.

After years of development, the redesigned Manning Public Library will open at 10am on May 6th

Linda Muhlbauer, director of the Manning Public Library, said the team had been talking about expanding their building for a few years, with the current library only able to hold a maximum of 12,000 books

The library went out for its programs because it did not have enough space to house them within its building.

After conducting a space requirements analysis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they determined that the library should have no fewer than 19,000 books based on the city’s population and usage. The library also had about 14 chairs in the room and the assessment indicated that they needed no fewer than 44.

Linda Mühlbauer, Director of the Manning Public Library.

Considering the factors, Muhlbauer said it was important to find a larger space on Main Street. Not far down the road, a vacant building owned by Manning Betterment was up for sale.

The current library is 3,000 square feet, with the assessment recommending an 11,000 square foot facility. Muhlbauer said they were approached when purchasing the 10,000-square-foot space.

“People wanted more, but we just didn’t have the space to give more,” said Mühlbauer.

The new library will be just a few blocks from the current building, which Muhlbauer said was crucial given the nearby shops on the street.

“We are very proud of our main street and the foot traffic that we receive,” Mühlbauer said. “It’s a synergy you get when you have shops and services in the same neighborhood.”

The library began fundraising in February last year and immediately received overwhelming support from donors. The library has also had great success with grants.

While they started with an operating budget, as more money rolled in, they were able to invest in remodeling the bathrooms and making the space more visually appealing, Muhlbauer said.

The purchase of the building totaled $280,000, with additional expenditures going towards buying furniture and remodeling the interior.

In addition to the donation, the city team also worked on the conversion in the winter, which, according to Mühlbauer, helped to save further costs.

“I think pride seems like such a simple word, but I really can’t think of any other word,” Mühlbauer said. “Manning is proud to achieve what he set out to do. … I think people are willing to put their money into things because I once heard someone say that ‘Manning knows how to rub two pennies together and make a nickel.'”

Once visitors are able to enter the new library, they can look out for an expanded children’s area, which they describe as the “pride and joy” of the space, Mühlbauer said. Additional seating has been implemented so that family members with children can also sit down.

“A lot of care and thought has gone into the seat heights just to make sure people can sit without having to bend down into a chair,” Mühlbauer said. “A lot of our population is older and it’s very difficult for them to get out of a chair, so we’ve taken a lot of care and attention to making sure our seats are comfortable for all ages.”

History buffs can check out the History Vault, which houses many of Manning’s historical items on display. In addition, the new library will feature a fireplace, which was the most requested feature in previous surveys, Mühlbauer said.

“They thought a fireplace would be great, and that’s one of the first things you’ll see when you walk in,” Mühlbauer said.

As the redesigned library is about to open, the librarians will need further help from the community. On May 1st, the library will host an event called “Books on Bricks” where volunteers can stand on Main Street and help move books to the new location.

The event begins at 4:00 p.m., with Mühlbauer encouraging residents of all ages to participate. Even if people don’t feel comfortable standing on Main Street, she said they can bring a chair.

“When the thousandth book comes out, we will ask everyone to follow it on the street and I will gather in front of the new library and take a picture,” Mühlbauer said.

Mühlbauer said there are many readers in the community, with book lovers often using the library. For families living in Manning, Muhlbauer said it’s important that they use their public library.

“Libraries in general are sometimes referred to as the living room of the community,” Mühlbauer said. “I think if you have a fresh, clean space with clean bathrooms and areas where kids can sit with their grandparents and stay for a while, it’s definitely an asset for anyone looking to start a family.”


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