Modern libraries are much more than stacks of books where librarians warn visitors to maintain silence. Today's libraries can be the town square of a community, a place to meet, converse, communicate by computer -- and, of course, read and check out books.
The Cape Girardeau Public Library has embarked on a multiyear plan to expand the facility on Clark Street so that it can accommodate the needs of today's library users.
And, several blocks away, Kent Library at Southeast Missouri State University is being remodeled to make the library more inviting to students and to provide amenities that might be found at a comfortable coffee shop.
The public library's planning process includes a recent presentation by a Lincoln, Neb., architectural firm calling for the library's space to double with an expanded children's section, a drive-through window, twice as many computer stations and a larger meeting place for conversation and coffee.
This "idea phase" offers library users an opportunity to have a say in what the library makeover should include. Once details are worked out, the proposed library expansion will require voter approval of a way to fund the improvements.
At the university's Kent Library, remodeling is underway to add a coffee bar, new furniture, two conference rooms and more computers. More renovation is planned on the library's third floor, where an "information commons" will be developed, including the reference department.