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Start small, aim big: Express Library, Mesa AZ

We just read with interest about a newly launched “Express Library” in Mesa Arizona: 2500 square feet, open three days a week, funded by impact fees from real estate developers. Less than 7% of the start-up costs were used to renovate the storefront—the rest was spent on materials. Ongoing operating costs will be covered by the library system’s ongoing book sale.

The goal is to lay the groundwork for a future, larger scale branch in the neighborhood.

Southeast Mesa will have its first city library by May after the idea won enthusiastic endorsement Thursday from the City Council.

“This is a ‘Wow!’ moment for me,” Councilman Alex Finter told library director Heather Wolf after she outlined how her thin, money-starved staff has found a way to stretch services to the growing area.It won’t be a full library for at least several years, but it’s a start similar to the one that launched the Red Mountain branch library in 1987.

Staffers would be rotated into the new library from other facilities. Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh joined others in praising Wolf and her staff. “It’s ironic,” he said. “I was part of the council in 2002 that approved the library master plan that called for five additional libraries. At that time I had no idea that it would take eight years to get one of the five additional libraries.”