ARCHER—People can check out the Archer Public Library, which will reopen April 6 after being closed for the winter.
The library has been closed since Oct. 1 by order of the Archer City Council due to heating and water being turned off in most of the building on Sanford Street that contains the library and community center.
The library will reopen with limited hours, starting with 3-5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6 and 13 and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, April 10.
A more permanent schedule is still being determined by the library board, which met March 16 to discuss reopening and the library’s future. The board’s last meeting was Nov. 6.
Archer mayor Nathan Mueller and city council member Steven Meyer attended the March 16 meeting to ask the board what assistance, if any, it wanted from the city in making decisions about the future of the library as it reopens.
“Our first order of business is if the plan is still to open April 1, to have an employee,” said library board chairwoman Katie Morgan.
Last year the library was staffed by part-time librarian Kandace Poland, but Poland stepped down from the position because of schedule conflicts with her other job.
However, before the library closed the board had advertised for a part-time position and received two applicants. The board will be reaching out to those applicants and interviewing them with the hope of hiring one to help run the library in April. The city of Archer has no employees.
Past discussions at city council meetings suggested a community-run library staffed entirely by volunteers, but board members expressed doubt that enough volunteers would be consistently available to keep the library open.
“As hard as it has been to find someone to be on the library board as a voluntary position, I’m not sure how we would even go about advertising for a volunteer for the library on a consistent basis,” said board member Angela Morley.
The library board has three of the five members it is supposed to have. They are Nadine Meyer, Morley and Morgan. All are women although the board should have men and women serving. Board members are all volunteers.
“That would be my concern, who is going to volunteer? Besides us?” Morgan asked.
Although the contents of the library did not appear to have been damaged during the six months of closure, more issues cropped up with the building. The furnace in the library flooded with water in February after a drain line got plugged. Bill Engeltjes, a council member and custodian for the building, got it running again, but a bucket is needed to catch extra water from the furnace until the drain line can be repaired. Also, two other furnaces in other parts of the building do not work.
“That’s where the conversation needs to steer toward a new home for the library,” Steven Meyer said.
The library/community center building is owned by Brad Puhrmann of Paullina. Last year the city council received input from Archer residents saying not to continue repairing the building.
At a previous meeting the council had tried to form a library and community center building committee, but that effort was put on hold until the library board resumed meeting.
“The council, we postponed any talk of building because we didn’t know where the library stood,” Steven Meyer said.
The board agreed that building or buying a new place for the library seemed the best option, but is unsure how to proceed.
Morgan asked what other fundraising the city could assist with to support a new library building.
Steven Meyer suggested the library start by finding an option that meets the city’s needs before fundraising toward the cost of that.
The library has more than $26,000 in a savings account and a further $7,852 set aside in a library/community center building fund.
Morley suggested purchasing a prebuilt cabin or double-wide trailer and adding an addition on the back with a bathroom rather than building something from the ground up.
The board agreed to table the subject of building or buying a new location for the library until its next meeting which will be at 5:30 p.m. April 6 after the library has closed for the day.
The board hopes to have interviewed or hired a part-time librarian by that time and to be discussing training and whether to expand the library’s hours to three days during the summer.