Saturday, April 19, 2008

What do I want? part 2 - features and options

Appleton Public Library 1900 - wheelchairs and cellphones not welcome!

What does my vision for the kind of facility we need say about our space options? No matter what we do, there are some features I'd highly recommend:
  • meeting room access at times when the library is closed -- civic and community groups increasingly are asking for this and it's a useful feature in many newer buildings -- the lobby this implies would be a great area for an oft-requested coffee shop or cafe
  • a welcoming entry and an exit that offers easy security for materials
  • ready access to delivery, possibly with a loading dock and/or service elevator -- moving materials among libraries has become increasingly important for our users and efficiency counts!
  • places to plug in laptops
  • larger, dedicated space for teens
  • well-lit spaces and displays for a growing collection of materials, including new formats
  • enough computers and enough floor space to put them
  • more meeting spaces and group workspaces, including some flexible spaces, teaching spaces and media production spaces
  • RFID security for inventory control, with automated sorting equipment for returned items
  • a place that looks up-to-date, is colorful, well lighted, and has social places as well as places that invite quiet study and reading for pleasure
  • green design
  • and -- maybe -- a drive-through for pickup & return
What does this mean for our main options?
  • Do nothing
    • Pro: our very cheapest solution!
    • Con: not a responsible solution -- if we ignore demonstrated service needs, we're not doing our job for the community -- we're discouraging learning. We can wait to do the right thing, but we should remember that the 1994 study recommended a significantly larger expansion. We ignored that recommendation and put a band-aid on, and within 10 years we were looking at the same issues.
  • Remodel our current facility
    • Pro: most economical proactive solution, builds on what we have, maintains a known location
    • Con: limited footprint and limited vertical space with existing building, some fundamental design flaws to overcome could lead to major compromises, other significant expansion here would have site acquisition issues
  • New Library building
    • Pro: old building usable for City office space or could be put on the tax roles, new building could be designed to meet goals for efficiency and 21st century service needs and be a destination and point of community pride
    • Con: most expensive, plus possible site acquisition issues
  • Branch library or libraries, instead of or in addition to one of the above
    • Pro: increased accessibility of library services in developing neighborhoods of the City. Branch libraries promote development, become neighborhood community centers, create traffic, and provide an opportunity to walk or bike to the library for those who would otherwise find access difficult. Makes APL available for those who have parking issues.
    • Con: added operational costs -- while duplicate materials could be minimized using current multiple copies, there would be some duplication of staff functions, and additional facility costs (one more box to heat, cool, paint, etc.) as well as cost to move materials between facilities
To be continued, with some notes on best practices and next steps!

1 comment:

jdscott50 said...

Very tricky when dealing with space. The more public input the better on that decision. Once there is a branch discussion, there is argument as to where will it go and who will it benefit and why didn't we get one?

However, I think it is easier to build a branch than it is to renovate and expand. Renovations can uncover disasters in the building that have long been hidden. A branch can also be built to exact specfications. Our current facility is the old city hall building. We renovated ten years ago and it has significant problems.

Luckily, we passed a bond about a year and a half ago and we are building a new branch and then renovating the existing main facility.