By now, you've probably read the articles in the paper or seen the TV news about last night's meeting on our facility. The press coverage I've seen was accurate, if necessarily incomplete.
The evening was worthwhile. We had about 50 people, three TV stations plus the Post-Crescent & WHBY. So lots of buzz: mostly positive about the importance of the library & space needs, but also some healthy skepticism about costs. Attendees included two Library Board members, one Foundation Board member, four members of the City Council, two members of the School Board, at least two members of the County Board, the FOAL Board president, and quite a few staff. There were a number of movers and shakers, and some just there as interested library users.
Consultants from Durrant and Himmel & Wilson reviewed the process and their findings. As discussed in the previous meeting (reported here), they got input from nearly 1,000 people including surveys and in-depth interviews, and they got further feedback after the meeting. They developed some priority lists:
Community Top 5:
- Downtown Library
- No Branch Library
- More Comfortable Environment
- More Computers
- Better Teen Area
- Strong Downtown Library
- No Branch Library
- Community Gathering Space
- Enhance Customer Experience
- Streamline Operations
- Technology Center
No matter what else we do, we should probably start moving to RFID security sooner rather than later -- it will take a few years to convert and we should have it done prior to any facility change. Radio Frequency ID has the potential to seriously improve security for library materials and save tremendous amounts of labor, but it comes with a steep price tag, in excess of a half million dollars and involving both equipment and space. We could start now, but we should finish by putting the equipment into the right kind of space.
The three alternatives:
- A minimal addition of 12,000 sq. ft. to the 2d floor east wing -- was clearly insufficient, but I guess it had to be publicly identified as an alternative in order to be considered and seen as insufficient.
- Expanding the current building on-site, was highly developed and included eliminating the Transit Center -- obviously we need to have some serious talks with Transit staff soon. I need to learn more -- it may be possible to expand on-site without relocating the Transit Center. In any event the needs of Valley Transit have to be taken into account.
- A new building, was a bit vague in terms of location and vision, and did not include much that would have fired people up. If there are advantages to designing new versus remodeling -- and I believe there are, I didn't hear them. Cost is an obvious, and possibly fatal, disadvantage to this alternative.
There was a lot of discussion and feedback, mostly useful and productive. It's a start -- and we're working on next steps. We'll have the slide show from the presentation posted soon.