New cooling center for downtown Cedar Rapids announced, as library remains closed after fire

Downtown Cedar Rapids — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The main branch of the Cedar Rapids Public Library normally serves as the city’s downtown cooling center during hot weather such as Iowa has been experiencing, but the building has been closed since a fire last week. CRPL announced a replacement cooling center will open at the downtown shelter run by the community service nonprofit organization Waypoint.

The Madge Phillips Center Shelter, near the library at 520 4th Ave SE, will open its doors for those seeking relief from heat starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning. The shelter’s operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Sundays, the shelter will be open from 1 to 5 p.m.

CRPL staff will also be setting up 10 computers with internet access for public use at the Madge Phillips Center Shelter.

“We recognize the vital role the library plays in our community, and having access to both computers and a cool place to escape the summer heat is an integral part of that role,” CRPL Director Dara Schmidt said in a written statement. “We are grateful for a community partner like Waypoint stepping up to help us fill the gap in services.”

The library said in its statement the downtown location is not expected to reopen before September.

The fire that resulted in the library closing broke out in a lighting fixture on the afternoon of July 27 and was quickly extinguished, according to CRPL. There were no reported injuries, and the library said books and other materials “do not appear to have been impacted by any water damage” from the automatic sprinklers that were activated by the fire.