Grants lead to I-Pads, prep center area, Additions preclude Alden Library Patio Party

By Justin Ites

When former Alden Library Director Libby Caplan resigned from the post last spring, there were plenty of grants and projects she was not able to see come to fruition.
That’s where fellow Alden Library officials have stepped up to help finish some of the work that Caplan started.
With the library’s third annual Patio Party a few weeks away (Aug. 19), Alden Friends of the Library members Lorrie Watts and Ann Brown – as well as interim library director Elaine Bahr – are pleased to report that multiple exciting additions are close to being revealed.
“Libby (Caplan) applied for these grants, and part of our job as a team is to get the projects finished,” Watts said.
The Alden Library received a Hardin County Community Endowment Foundation grant in the amount of $2,500, a grant that required matching funds. With contributions from Alden Friends of the Library, the Alden City Council and HCCEF Seed money, the library was able to purchase 10 new I-Pads, an I-Pad locking/docking station, and cases/accessories.
Bahr said the iPads – ordered last November – will be rolled out within the next week, and will be added to the library’s current fleet of six public computers.
“There are a number of people who do not have computers in their own homes, so having the I-Pads at the library gives them another option,” Bahr said. “It’s take awhile to get them up and running, as well as install apps and download the software. I’m hoping to use at least one for toddler time programming, and I know a couple of the teen ones have SAT prep, so kids can use them for homework and educational purposes. It’s another educational tool to bring more people into the library.
In order to use the I-Pads, Bahr said citizens must have a free Alden Library card.
Another new addition is underway, which includes a new 6×10 space the Alden Library has dubbed the “Children’s Program and Craft Preparation Center.”
Using a Barlow Foundation Grant ($2,500), a Thiesen’s More For Your Community Grant ($2,000) and some donated money, the new space became a reality. Watts said more spaced was badly needed for organizational purposes.
“We wanted to have everything from supplies and things used for crafts laid out in an organized manner. Now the kids can go in the room and access something. There will be no more hunting and digging for items. Things were packed on top of each other,” Watts said.
Bahr said she hopes to have that room ready by the time school is back in session (late August).
Local contractor Harley Mourlam was hired for that project, as well as the ongoing patio expansion on the north side (facing the Iowa River) of the library.
Watts, Bahr and Brown are excited about the fast approaching third annual Patio Party on Aug. 19, at 7 p.m. For a $12 ticket, visitors may enjoy live music, participate in wine and beer sampling, and enjoy great food.
That event was first started in 2014 to help commemorate the Alden Library’s 100th birthday. Attendance grew from 90 people in 2014 to 170 people at last year’s installment.
Olde Main Brewery (Ames) and Dome Winery LLC (Belmond) will provide samples at the event, while local singer Brian Herrin will perform. Watts said the Dr. Grace O. Doane Library Foundation, Alden Friends of the Library, Alden City Council and generous donations were the springboard to extend the patio all the way west to the city shed.
“This expansion will provide more space. We had to set up tables on the lawn for past events,” Watts said.”
Bahr said the library would like to market that area for additional programs, receptions, weddings and birthday parties.
Tickets for the Aug. 19 patio party are available at the Alden Library, and Watts said each ticket will contain a line item allowing citizens to make a donation that will provide additional landscaping and extra furniture for the patio project.