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Burlington Library Celebrating 10 Years on Court Street

Jason Parrott
The Burlington Public Library serves as a welcome to people traveling from Illinois into Iowa.

The Burlington Public Library moved from its former location on 4th Street to its Court Street location ten years ago this month. Library Director Rhonda Frevert said usage continues to rise with more than 700 people walking through the doors on a daily basis.

“People come and they spend quite a bit of time,” said Frevert. “It’s not just a drop-in, get your book and go [type] of place, it’s more of a community center. It’s a place where people come and meet up for groups, big and small. They come and go to our coffee shop, they come to hang out.”

Frevert said that was the idea behind the design for the Court Street location, specifically the addition of two large meeting rooms and eight smaller rooms.

“At the time that we were designing [it], we thought this is a lot more space than we had at the old facility and now, there are times where we think we could use another of these big rooms,” said Frevert. “They are all booked. A lot of times when people are calling, they have to book pretty far out because I have to tell them all the time they are already booked.”

Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR
The bookstore inside the front door of the Burlington Public Library.

Frevert said the design process also focused on giving the library a look that blended in with Burlington’s downtown. The library features a red brick exterior with large, glass windows surrounded by white trim, which blends in with other nearby brick buildings.

“I think [the design] went well,” said Frevert. “I think it really does make a nice welcome to the community as you cross the bridge (from Illinois into Iowa].”

The Court Street location also addressed accessibility problems, a lack of parking, and a need for more space for expanding collections.

Frevert said perhaps the most significant improvement from the 4th Street location, which is now the home of the Des Moines County Historical Society, is the offerings for teens. She said all the library had in its previous location was a few books tucked underneath a stairwell.

Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR
Library Director Rhonda Frevert said she continues to look for more programs and services to add to keep people coming into the facility.

“Now they have their own space, which was designed in,” said Frevert. “Much more room for the collection, room for seating. Because we offered that space, we started getting more teens using the library, [so we in turn] we added in more classes and programs for them.”

Frevert believes the programs and services offered by the Burlington Public Library set it apart from locations throughout the region. She said a goal for the library is to increase outreach into the city, the schools, and the county to keep the usage trend heading in the right direction.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.