Library Board Reflection: Where is the West Des Moines Public Library?

by Jean Fajen, WDM Library Board of Trustees 

Appointed in July 2022, I am the newest member of the West Des Moines Library Board of Trustees. In my first year serving as a Trustee, I’ve found that this role feeds my desire to be a part of something extremely meaningful by supporting the WDM Public Library and the great city of West Des Moines. I spent the immediate six years prior serving on the West Des Moines Library Friends Foundation Board, so it would be fair to personally answer my title question that the library resides in a special place in my heart. 

The beautiful WDM Public Library’s physical location is on Mills Civic Parkway, an iconic part of our beautiful City complex, and it is so much more than meets the eye. The library contains over 182,000 current circulation items and 63 staff members (32.5 Full-Time Equivalents). The combination of these two assets makes amazing things possible. 

Under the direction of Darryl Eschete, the staff performs outstanding work to make the library a presence in so many more ways than in just the traditional sense. While visiting the building and doing anything from browsing the shelves, attending programs, using a conference room, using the copy and fax services, or reserving a book club kit for your next book club meeting, you will find the library meets many of your traditional needs. However, the library has so many more services to offer. As a result of using passion, technology, and creativity, you will find that ‘Where is the library?’ is a question with a lengthy list of answers. 

The WDM Public Library website offers countless services and interesting information you may not know about. Some of my favorite items on the website are the robust digital calendar, the monthly eNewsletter, a utility for personalized reading recommendations, and Adventure Pass (free access to the Blank Park Zoo, Science Center, Botanical Garden and more). The website also supplies you with additional ways to access library happenings via social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) as well as links to the In this Day and Page podcast. 

With the WDM Public Library App, access to the library can now be on your phone or mobile device. This app is simple to use and puts the library at your fingertips. Browsing for and reserving items is incredibly easy and convenient from literally anywhere! 

For mobile reading and listening apps, check out Libby and Hoopla. For me these apps let me take the library to the gym or in my car. The selection of audio and eBooks offered is extensive and all you need to access it is your library card. Many miles on a treadmill have gone by with ease after getting lost in an audiobook. 

Following the sidewalk around the library, you will find a fun extension of the library, the Tale Trail. You will be treated to a wonderful graphic story on display as you wind your way around the library path.  The story changes so visit it often! 

The library also has a state-of-the-art presence in Valley Junction! Nestled behind the Valley Junction Activity Center on 5th Street, you will find the only one of its kind in the state, a Library Kiosk. This ‘vending machine’ of books, audiobooks, and DVDs is one of our proudest projects funded entirely by the WDM Library Friends Foundation.

Undoubtedly the most touching work the library has done in recent years is the expansion of their Homebound and Elder Care Outreach services. The library’s Outreach program has nearly tripled over the last several years and adds to the list of ‘where’ the library can be found. In 2022, the signature wrapped Library Outreach Van made over 900 individual deliveries as a part of the Homebound Delivery Program. Also, over 1,600 residents at nearly two dozen West Des Moines Senior and Elder Care facilities can now enjoy their own customized collection of WDM Public Library materials. The Library Outreach Program not only provides access to library materials to senior living communities, but the library staff performs on-site book talks, ‘Reminisce’ sessions, and brings lots of smiles and personal connection proven to be invaluable.

As I sit back and wrap up my Library Board Reflections, my eyes go to one of my favorite coffee mugs.  It’s from the WDM Library Friends Foundation…..shocking, I know. The mug highlights a simple and poignant question from the captivating Katherine Hepburn, “What in the world would we do without our libraries?” Ms. Hepburn, I truly hope we never have to find out.

Are you interested in serving on the Board of Trustees for the library? You are always welcome to submit an application with the City of West Des Moines.  

Posted on April 20, 2023