Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Library building: where it's at

Many folks are asking about the status of a potential library building project, as the City Council is close to adopting the budget for next year. In brief (with thanks to Library Board President Liz Witek for supplying some of these ideas & words):

  • Some people seem to frame the question as one of space, and the most affordable space. From our point of view, the discussion is not about space – it’s about how to provide efficient 21st library service: well-designed space for current and future needs is one aspect of that.
  • We'll need to meet rising demands without planning to significantly increase staff, and we recognize that the design concepts of the current building are not ideally suited to current and future concerns. We know that operating costs for the life of any building are substantially more than construction costs, and we need to give the most service at the lowest cost.
  • Remodeling the current building is still a viable option, though perhaps less than ideal for long-term operational efficiency. From a structural engineering viewpoint, we can only add about 12,000 sq ft to our existing footprint – no third floor; the building footings would not support it.
  • The Council's Administrative Services Committee has moved Site Selection money set out in the Mayor’s budget from 2010 to 2011.
  • We know it's frustrating for library supporters to be on hold after three years of Library Board discussion, a lot of public involvement, two years of Council-approved studies assessing citizens’ library needs and library facility concerns, and getting two nearly identical recommendations…
  • but we recognize the need to be extra cautious in these difficult financial times,
  • ...and we can use the extra time as a really good opportunity to
    • help the Council and the people of Appleton to assess how and why two separate studies recommended what they did, and to
    • see how library needs fit into the as-yet unpublished Facilities Master Plan for Appleton
    • so we can all reach the best long-term decision for the City.
  • We often hear that potential donors will need a firm commitment from the City before we can mount an effective capital campaign for private funds to supplement public dollars.
  • We're often asked how much donors will contribute, and we don't know. Other communities have funded 25% of capital costs from donors, but we may want to do a feasibility study.
If that's "in brief", anyone still reading is probably glad I didn't discuss it at length, but comments are always welcome!

2 comments:

Michael A. Golrick said...

Before you do your fundraising studies, be sure to contact me about my experiences.

Jeff Scott said...

That's a lot on your plate. Good luck with this project. I also always find it interesting when people start playing poker with these kinds of projects. (I will give money, if you give money. OK how much are going to give, I don't know? How much are YOU going to give?) :)