Some avid Eureka-based lovers of reading and fine arts are on a new mission: to somehow expand library offerings from the current location in the Hilltop Village Center or to relocate so a future expansion would be possible.
At last night's Eureka Town Hall meeting at the city's community center, charter members of a new community group, Friends of the Eureka Library, revealed their goals and invited other residents to join the crusade.
For research purposes, new group members issued a survey at this year's Eureka Days in September, asking what other residents would like in a retooled library.
"Imagine a library dedicated to large children's areas, with even a separate story area, so kids could really get into what they are reading," said Carolyn Parmer, one Eureka resident who is working with St. Louis County Library District officials to explore possibilities for the city's library.
"We'd like more reading programs, and ways to introduce to fine arts, dance and media. It would be wonderful to have a robust section for adults," she said. "We need a spot where we can get info for travel, and books on tape for driving."
Parmer suggested there was a need for additional book clubs to match various ages of readers.
"The existing library staff is doing what they can. But teens don't have an area where they can gather," she said. "There's no real safe place for them to be. Sure, we drive back and forth to the mall. But what we'd like to see is large, comfortable furniture and technology in a local library, which would inspire them to gather and read -- while texting each other, of course."
With the current technology area in the existing library space being so cramped, she said, having a differently configured work space for online research would benefit residents by enabling them to keep updated through better computer access.
"The community needs meeting rooms as part of a facility, too," Parmer said.
Friends of Eureka Library representatives said members of organizations focused on local history and genealogy voiced the request for meeting space, as well.
"We're calling this vision a hub, in that we'd like a place for people who are immersed in reading and knowledge-based resources to have a hub," Parmer said.
The Eureka Hills library is one of 20 branches supported by taxes paid into St. Louis County. Parmer said the county's library managers do have a strategic plan for their locations, but that they were told the Eureka location was No. 11 within the most recent list for those to receive a new library.
"They know we're (Eureka facility) way too tiny, that we've outgrown our space a long time ago," she said.
"They (St. Louis County Library District) have a lot of competing concerns. We will see a new library in Eureka, but we're subject to a time line and priorities that exist in that large list of projects," Parmer said. "And there's no guarantee that we would have input into the services they would provide. If we could take ownership, we'd see the new library more quickly and be able to design what that hub would look like."
At the Eureka Town Hall meeting, Friends of the Eureka Library organization offered materials and sign-up sheets for becoming a targeted part of the 'Friend of the St. Louis County Library Foundation.' This program is offered by the county library district for supporters, who help sustain bookmobiles, pre-school reading programs, teen centers, and author events.
Memberships in this foundation range from $40 for readers who are 17 years or younger to $1,000 for a package of privileges. The Library Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organizations, which makes donations tax deductible.
Parmer said the Eureka-specific group was told last week that local donors could request their memberships remain segregated and earmarked specifically for a Eureka library cause.
"We are No. 11 among priorities without a local friends' organization; imagine if we can gather hundreds of Eureka library friends and be able to accelerate the building here," said Parmer, who also reiterated that the Friends of Eureka Library group is still an informal club at this time.
Eureka Mayor Kevin Coffey punctuated Parmer's presentations by saying that he is sure more local residents would like to see the library's ranking on the district list move from the middle to No. 2 or No. 3.
Editor's Note: Patch has reached out to the St. Louis County Library communications manager for feedback regarding the Eureka Hills branch, and will share that as soon as possible.