Excitement building for library’s Sunday hours

Beginning Sept. 18, Marshalltown area residents will be able to enjoy the public library on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Executive director Sarah Rosenblum recently told the Times-Republican plans are being finalized, and all should be ready when the first patron walks through the door.

“We are excited,” said Rosenblum. “A ribbon-cutting is being planned, followed by opening the doors and welcoming our patrons.”

Equally excited are area residents, who have shared their enthusiasm with staff.

They had asked for Sunday availability for many years.

Their persistence paid off.

It will mark the first time in more than 20 years the library will be open Sundays.

“It is my understanding from residents the library (in its former location at 36 N. Center St.) was open on Sundays in the early 1990s or mid 1990s,” said Rosenblum. “However, those hours were eliminated as one of the consequences of the Iowa Trust Fund scandal.”

City officials were forced to make numerous cuts in all city departments after it was disclosed an investor collectively hired by Marshalltown and numerous other Iowa cities had been caught misappropriating funds.

Each community lost many thousands in reserves.

But a new day dawned on Nov. 3, 2015, when Marshalltown voters passed a property tax levy resulting in an extra $204,000 a year income to the library.

Rosenblum and Friends of the Library, a not-for-profig group supporting the library’s mission, had promoted levy passage to maintain and improve services.

A large majority of operating funds comes from the city, with some financial support from the county.

However, those allocations had remained flat the past five years, while the public was using the facility more and more.

“800 to 1,000 residents use the library on a daily basis,” said Rosenblum, in a report to the city council in 2015. “In 2014, nearly 300,000 people visited, and 287,000 items were checked out. There were 57,000 computer sessions and nearly 15,000 children attended one of 465 programs.”

In 2013, the library was selected from 16,000 libraries to receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

It is the only Iowa library to receive this award.

“A couple of dads have told me they are looking forward to bringing their children to the library on Sundays,” Rosenblum said.