Mayor Adam Schweers
Mayor Adam Schweers
September 10, 2013

Carroll City Council members Monday night called on a Wisconsin firm to provide more details on the size and scope of a potential new or upgraded public library before inking a contract.

In a nearly three-hour meeting, most of it consumed by the library discussion, council members said a proposal presented by Mayor Adam Schweers and the Carroll Library Foundation for a $7,000 study fell short on details. Council members want Himmel & Wilson Library Consultants of Milton, Wis., to include more public input in the space-needs analysis and list hard numbers on library collection size and other criteria.

Councilwoman Carolyn Siemann said the firm has strong credentials. Himmel & Wilson, in existence since 1987, has been involved with more than 350 library developments in 43 states, said Bill Wilson, a partner in the firm.

"These are reputable people," Siemann said.

But the contract Himmel & Wilson developed for the Carroll Library Foundation needed to be expanded so there is as much up-front buy-in as possible from the general public on a library plan, she said.

"We do not want another failed bond issue," Siemann said.

One of her chief concerns: the space-needs process wasn't including enough early input from the public, which Siemann called a "disaster."

"I think that's integral," she said.

Schweers said the study is intended to examine the space required for the community library - not location.

Wilson said his firm will consider demographics in the city and surrounding area, as the library serves patrons in the county.

The Carroll Library Foundation provided the $7,000 in financing for the proposed study, a combination of private fundraising and a $3,000 grant from the State Library of Iowa.

Additional funds to expand the space-needs analysis will come from the city, which has budgeted $20,000 to study a new or expanded library.

The contract for a retooled study is expected to come before the council Sept. 23. Schweers said the study would be released simultaneously to the council and foundation as a fully public document.

"This is the first step we need to begin," said Councilman Jeff Scharfenkamp.

Carroll voters in August 2011 overwhelming turned down a financing referendum for a planned new 32,000-square-foot, $7.4 million library at the former Heider Manufacturing property south of the Union Pacific Railroad lines and west of Main Street, effectively sending back to elected officials and library volunteers a decision on whether to build a new public lending facility, add onto the current one or do nothing at all.

The referendum that would have allowed the city to issue up to $6 million in general-obligation bonds failed with 22 percent and 78 percent casting ballots against the public measure. The referendum required a super-majority of 60 percent for passage.