Cedar Rapids Public Library’s downtown location will reopen Thursday, though fire clean-up and repairs continue

The Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 5th Avenue SE — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The downtown location of the Cedar Rapids Public Library will reopen on Thursday, five weeks after damage from a fire in a lighting fixture caused it to close. That fire was quickly contained with no reported injuries, and in a statement at the time, the library said “library materials do not appear to have been impacted by any water damage” from the automatic sprinklers that were activated by the fire. But in its statement on Wednesday morning announcing the reopening, CRPL revised that assessment saying there was “minimal damage to library material.”

The library also said the fire had resulted in “extensive smoke residue in the building, as well as fire retardant and water from sprinklers which went off above the Commons.”

Repair work and cleaning remains ongoing.

“Patrons will notice some continuing work on the ceiling, light fixture, and first floor directly under the light fixture where damage occurred,” CRPL said. “The library will reopen with damage still present and close at a later date for three days to complete final restoration after investigations have concluded. There is no date for that future closure at this time.”

In the statement, Library Director Dara Schmidt said, “Even with the final cleaning and restoration incomplete, all library services and collections are safely available to our community.”

The library also serves as the city’s only cooling station in the downtown area. Following its closure, a temporary cooling center at the nearby Madge Phillips Center Shelter, where CRPL staff also set up a temporary computer hub with wifi access to accommodate members of the public. Those temporary arrangements will end on Wednesday.

The downtown CRPL will resume its normal hours starting Thursday. It is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and on Sundays, from 1 to 5 p.m. It will be closed on Sunday, Sept. 4 and Monday, Sept. 5, in observance of Labor Day.