Cedar Rapids Public Library – Ladd Branch

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Client
    City of Cedar Rapids
  • SQ. FT.
  • Budget
  • Market
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In June 2008, a 500-year flood overtook Cedar Rapids, Iowa, submerging most of the downtown area including the main library. OPN donated services to design the temporary location at a local west-side mall, and used contacts within the construction and library equipment trades to obtain a variety of donated materials.

While plans progressed to re-establish a permanent downtown library, the temporary west-side location in the mall was receiving significant traffic. It was so heavily used that the Library Board of Trustees determined a new, permanent branch should be constructed. After examining several options, the team determined that renovating an existing, empty big-box store on the west side was the right choice for a branch library. The challenge was taking a dark, largely windowless big-box store and turning it into a welcoming space suitable for library activity, all on a limited budget. Working with the library staff, the design team devised a solution that maintained the existing structure while creating large expanses of windows along the exterior.

Furniture and décor throughout the library mirror the design choices that were being made for the new main library downtown, reinforcing the organization’s brand identity. As visitors enter the library, retail-like shelving lines the open corridor while stacks, technology stations, and comfortable seating options draw people to the right. Library patrons have access to iPads throughout the space that allow them to browse the collection. The library also includes new computers, small study rooms, a community room that can hold more than 50 people, and a variety of new furniture. An open floor plan with low-height shelving and clear lines of sight provides operational efficiency. Automated materials handling technologies attached to the drive-up book drop speed book processing and shelving time. Self-check kiosks minimize checkout lines and free up staff to help on the service desk.

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