A new temporary downtown library branch opened in the Armstrong Centre today, one year after flood waters filled the former main downtown branch. Since then, the Cedar Rapids Public Library has operated out of its branch at Westdale Mall, and recently expanded into a larger space there in the former Osco Drug store. The downtown location will be open weekdays from 10am – 6pm, and during the Saturday morning downtown farmers market throughout the summer.

The library board has voted to put a property tax levy increase on the ballot in November, to increase the current library of 4 cents per $1000, to 27 cents. This would end up being a $23 annual property increase on a home valued at $100,000 – a small price to pay for the future of our public library. From the Gazette, “[FEMA] funding will help pay to restore what the library lost in the flood and to build a new library, but a new tax increase would go for library operating costs, particularly when a new library is completed in 2011.”

In March, FEMA declared the flooded downtown library hit the 50 percent damage threshold, meaning it would help fund total replacement of the current building instead of repairing it. A new library is expected to be built on a different site in downtown, further from the river. An exact location or timeline has not been determined.