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Kennedy Mall to offer new reading space

Posted by Joe Bell on March 11, 2020
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In partnership with library, Dubuque mall to offer new reading space

March 11, 2020

Reading space

Liz Rogers, marketing director for Kennedy Mall, arranges books Tuesday at a new reading space in the mall in Dubuque. Kennedy Mall and Carnegie-Stout Public Library teamed up for the new space that will open on Friday, March 13.

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A reading space equipped with lounge seating and more than 200 books soon will take up residence near center court of the Kennedy Mall.

Kennedy Mall Marketing Director Liz Rogers said the new offering will debut Friday and will be open daily during regular mall hours. It was made possible by a partnership between Kennedy Mall and Carnegie-Stout Public Library.

The reading area will occupy a 1,200-square-foot location that previously housed Zales, a jewelry store that closed in early 2019 after nearly a half- century in the mall.

“We are trying to find new ways to fill our spaces and that one has been vacant for some time now,” Rogers said. “We think this is an option that will really give back to the community.”

The Kennedy Mall space will be part of the library’s broader “While You Wait” program, which provides books in community settings where residents are apt to have downtime and an opportunity to read. Through the initiative, Carnegie-Stout has placed books in the Dubuque Regional Airport, as well as the waiting rooms of doctor’s and dentist’s offices.

Library Director Susan Henricks believes the mall location is a natural extension of these efforts.

“It is a way of reaching people where they are at,” Henricks said. “This space is at the center of the mall and I think there will be a lot of foot traffic there.”

Mall officials reached out to Carnegie-Stout Public Library in late 2019 to float the idea of a partnership. Intrigued by the idea, library officials soon began collecting texts that would suit the new location.

Henricks said the selected books include a combination of adult and children’s offerings. Members of the public are welcome to take the books home with them (they don’t need to be checked out) or read them at the mall.

In addition to furniture, the space will feature a monitor that will alert visitors to programming and activities offered by the library.

“It is a great way to raise awareness of library services,” Henricks said.

The reading space will adopt a self-service model and won’t be staffed, according to Rogers.

Mall officials will continue to market the space to any entities interested in renting it. In the event that a new tenant is found, the reading space would simply shift to another empty storefront in the mall.

In recent years, multiple struggling retailers have left the property, leaving behind large vacancies that have proven difficult to fill by traditional means.

A trampoline park, gym and sports training facility now reside where large-scale retailers once operated.

Rogers said the library partnership is a continuation of the mall’s efforts to think outside the box.

“We’re looking for ideas that go beyond retail and give people more experience-based offerings,” she said. “This is another way to bring people into the mall.”

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