LE MARS, Iowa | The theme for the scene of moving thousands of books across the street is "teamwork," Shirley Taylor exclaims as the Le Mars Public Library goes through a renovation story. 

"We had people with the water department, wastewater, public facilities, streets and city administration, library staff and volunteers help. I think we moved over 24,000 items...," the library's director said. "It was a great day. We weren’t sure how much we were going to get done, or how many days we needed, but we worked together so well."

The library, at 46 First St. SW, closed April 10 to allow staff to prep inventory for the move just across the street to the Eagles Club building, which will serve as the temporary library until late fall.

The move is required for the city to complete a $350,000 renovation of the building that has served as the library since 1976.

The Eagles Club, 104 First St. SW, is expected to open for business as the town's library on May 1. It will be used until construction at the library is completed this fall.

On Wednesday and Thursday, volunteers and staff "did the reverse of what they had been doing" earlier in the week and restocked the shelves brought over from the library with books and audiobooks.

Sue Kroesche, of Orange City, a former director of the Le Mars library, pitched in a number of days.

"We started to get the ball rolling (on renovations) when I was here, but it just didn't pan out," Kroesche said Thursday. "I just think it is fabulous they can finally remodel it because it was needed." 

The project includes construction of a new entrance and removal of carpet, ceiling tiles and walls. New shelves will be purchased and the interior of the library will be redesigned to create a more efficient layout, Taylor said. 

With funds coming from different grants and private donations, assistant city administrator Jason Vacura said the project is estimated at about $700,000. That does not include removal of asbestos recently found in the building's canopy, walls and floors. Vacura said Thursday evening he had just met with a subcontractor to get the first bid on the asbestos abatement.  

“Some of (the asbestos) we kind of expected, we just weren’t hoping it to be in as many spots,” Taylor said.

The discovery of the asbestos may throw a wrench into the projected September/October completion date for the project. 

The Eagles Club is a multi-floored building that is typically used for meetings, wedding receptions and a community Bingo night. The top floor, a ballroom, will house children's books. The basement will have public computers. Steps are required to access each floor, creating a challenge for the handicapped and other residents who have trouble climbing a flight of stairs.

To accommodate those users, Taylor said the library will offer home deliveries, and a "Curbside To Go" service. Patrons can call ahead and staff will bring books and other materials to their vehicles. 

“We really want to make everything as easy as possible,” she said. “We can’t put an elevator in-- that’s not going to happen, but we will try what we can do. We will work with people who want to call and arrange something we haven’t thought of and we will certainly consider it.”

Taylor added that many books were put into storage due to a lack of space in the Eagles building, but "the books will be waiting for you in the fall."  

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Crime and general assignment reporter

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