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Library board ponders renovation of War Memorial Building

“... it was frequently noted in the comments that the library feels crowded, but the population feels split on whether or not we’re going to need an entirely new building to remedy this situation."

Members of the Nobles County Library Board, from left, Jensine Kinser, Peg Faber and Katie Kouba, listen to Library Director Beth Sorenson in the large main area of the library Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, as Sorenson gives a tour of the facility.
Members of the Nobles County Library Board, from left, Jensine Kinser, Peg Faber and Katie Kouba, listen to Library Director Beth Sorenson in the large main area of the library Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, as Sorenson gives a tour of the facility.
Kari Lucin / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — Building a new Nobles County Library does not seem likely, given the previous attempts that failed, so Nobles County Library Board members turned their attention to potential renovations of its Worthington branch during a meeting Monday.

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Library Director Beth Sorenson presented the board with results from a community survey completed recently by Library Solutions so they could view feedback from local people.

“... it was frequently noted in the comments that the library feels crowded, but the population feels split on whether or not we’re going to need an entirely new building to remedy this situation,” Sorenson said.

However, the survey also reflected that patrons would like more programming, more reading and study spaces and larger collections — all of which are limited by the space available.

Since the survey began, the Nobles County Historical Society has moved out of the basement of the War Memorial Building that houses the library and the Nobles County Art Center, giving the library one large open space as well as several smaller spaces. The open space is used for both children’s and adult programming, and the smaller rooms are used as conference rooms, which library patrons can reserve for meetings in advance at no cost.

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Though Nobles County Commissioners have expressed reluctance in the past to build a new library, the board has also found consensus around the idea of renovating the Nobles County Library in Worthington.

As such, its chairwoman, Peg Faber, asked Commissioner Bob Paplow, who serves on the library board, to see how much the county board would be willing to spend on renovation.

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Paplow agreed to ask them, and said that in the past, “It always comes up, ‘We want a new building.’ I’m pretty sure that’s not going to ever happen.”

Library board member John Stewart asked if it would be helpful to give commissioners a tour of the library like the one library board members had during their Friday work session, to give commissioners a better idea of what might be needed.

Paplow said he is for remodeling the War Memorial building, and would be against building a new library. He said that was his stance when he ran for his position and he still stands by that.

“And there’s lots of things that you can do with an existing building,” Faber said.

Because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, there may be some limitations on what can be done with it, but Paplow, who worked on renovations of the Nobles County Heritage Center (former armory), which is also on the National Register of Historic Places — said quite a bit can still be done.

“I’m trying to help,” Paplow said, adding that the county board will need more information before it can act. “It just needs more information, personally.”

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Sorenson said it would be a good idea to get an architect, who could provide some accurate cost estimates for a remodel, so that they could get more information for the county board.

Library board member Katie Kouba said she thought everyone was willing to make the building work, if it makes sense, and that no one is against that.

The library board agreed to go through the documents Sorenson provided and continue the discussion at its February meeting.

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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