ROCK ISLAND — Plans are still in place to close one of Rock Island's three library branches.
The 30/31 branch at 3059 30th St. will close by the end of the year. The plan is to eventually move that branch up the street into what is now the Tri-City Jewish Center, 2715 30th St., although no timeline for that move has been set, and funds have not yet been secured. The proposed plan is that the library branch and an unnamed partner will share the space.
Lisa Lockheart, publicity and outreach liaison for the Rock Island Public Library, said the closing is part of the library's four-year strategic plan, crafted with the help of residents through a series of community meetings held in 2018.
"It may be news to some people, but perhaps not as many as you might think," Lockheart said. "It is part of a goal to expand services at the Tri-City Jewish Center location.
"It is part of our building plan to share that space with an as-yet unnamed partner. That partner is not the Tri-City Jewish Center. Until the study is complete, and fundraising is secured, we are still in the planning phase."
Lockheart said the Rock Island Public Library Foundation currently is engaged in a feasibility study and researching what kind of funds are needed to make the move possible.
Lockheart said investing additional funds into the current 30/31 branch building would not be a prudent use of resources since the library board of trustees voted to close it.
"Closing by the end of the fiscal year allows us to enhance services and to save budget dollars," she said. "The savings will offset the cost of remodeling and opening a newer facility. We know we are moving to something newer down the line, and this is one step closer to that goal."
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Lockhart said expanding space and services will better serve the community, noting the number of residents with library cards has steadily trended upward over the past year. There are currently 17,161 active library card holders in the Rock Island Public Library system.
Teresa Mesich, a regular visitor to the 30/31 branch, said she was upset when she heard the branch will close. But she felt hopeful when she learned the library may share space at the Tri-City Jewish Center in the near future.
"That is good news; I like that space," Mesich said. "I think it will be beautiful if they do it; I think it will be nice."
Another change for the library will be the arrival of a bookmobile, which was approved by city council members at the Sept. 9 regular meeting.
Lockheart said the vehicle cost $165,000, and $100,000 of that is being covered by a donation from the Rock Island Public Library Foundation. The vehicle is being delivered from Wisconsin. Once it is wrapped with the library logo, Lockheart expects it will ready for customers by late fall.
"That mobile library is part of the strategic plan," Lockheart said. "We held a number of community meetings, and that continuously came to the top of requests. A (bookmobile) will allow us to bring our services to the people. We are working on a route schedule right now.
"While it is not a replacement for the branch that is closing, it is an interim service solution. It will have routes in that neighborhood."