NorthIowaToday.com met with Mary Markwalter, Directory of the Mason City Public Library, for a guided tour of the facility. Mary is extremely knowledgeable about practically every detail of the renovation. She has a story about (and a use for) every room in the building. She knows the history of the MCPL and can describe in detail all the services the library will be offering once it re-opens on October 4. All this made for an eye-opening stroll through the construction zone that by the October 4 re-opening will be a library buzzing with citizens. “Our goal is for our library to be a destination for citizens, a place they enjoy visiting over and over,” Mary said.
Viewing the construction zone from the outside does not reveal the magnitude or the shear elegance of what is taking shape on the inside. The new library will be modern, sophisticated, steeped in history, accessible, and simply a great place to work and socialize. The architects in charge of the new design, Halobird & Root, did a phenomenal job of designing a library that ties old with new. They would know best, since they designed the original MCPL that was completed in 1939.
One of the goals of the architects was to instill a sense of place in the library that is felt throughout the building. For example, all the oak woodwork matches, in every room. The Ipe (from South America) wood used on the front and rear entrances to the Commons is also used on the benches on the patio south of the Commons. Other woodwork original to the MCPL was restored and now looks fantastic. There are white pillars in the Commons that resemble the pillars outside the library main entrance. Furniture from the library, some of it 70 plus years old, has been restored. Light fixtures found in most rooms all match and are replicas of older fixtures used in the library.
This story is the first in a series of stories about the Mason City Public Library coming to NorthIowaToday.com.