The Osceola Library has one of the highest circulations in the 50-library service cooperative of which it is a part, yet it is stretched as a facility. It has the least amount of material per patron, resulting in delays for material to come on loan from other libraries.
About 11,000 people live in the library’s service area, roughly 5,000 of whom are cardholders. It has the lowest cost per circulation in the county and one of the lowest in the state. There are only four computers, with erratic, slow internet access. The facility has a single meeting room that is also used for storage, children’s programs, board meetings, activities and to house part of the collection.
Restrooms and narrow aisles are inaccessible to seniors, patrons with disabilities and adults with children in strollers. Comfortable seating is limited. There are water intrusion problems, including a leaking roof, and few places to park. Clearly, the facility is in dire need of replacement.
The current library building is noisy, crowded and lacking in meeting and activity space. The building of yesterday could not anticipate the technology needs of today, thus it isn’t energy efficient or technology conversant. While circulation, borrowers and programs at the library have increased dramatically through the years, the building has not grown with the increased demand. The library of yesterday in no way meets the needs of our community today.
The Village Hall is the community’s link to the municipality. In the Village Hall you will find the Village staff, Police Department and Municipal Court offices. Village Board meetings, committee meetings and Municipal Court are all held in the Village Hall. The current Village Hall, which was built in the early 1970s, has outlived its usefulness. It is crowded and lacking in both office and meeting space, as well as the modern technology needed for a secure community.
Our growing community lacks several other essential facilities. We don’t have a place where seniors can gather for information, education, recreation and social interaction, which are critical to their health and quality of life. Our young children have no indoor space. Our youth have no safe space to gather for after school activities. In Osceola, there is no place for community displays, demonstrations or public meetings. With the high school’s facilities frequently booked, Osceola’s largest public meeting space holds just 40 people and is not readily accessible or available for community use.
In a generation where social, educational, health and economic opportunities depend on access to the Internet, lack of access means lack of opportunity. The challenge we face as a community is how to address this disparity and equalize the educational and workforce playing field.
We have a unique opportunity to transform our library, community center and village hall and create a discovery center for all; to embrace an expanded role as an online information center; to serve as an innovation hub helping engage people.