Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Expansion planning process wrapping up

With just two more Library Board meetings in 2015, the expansion planning process is nearly at an end. It’s been more than a year since the Plainfield Public Library District’s Board of Trustees began planning for an expansion to go on the 2016 ballot. By year end, the Library Board is anticipated to vote on the ordinances which would place referendum questions on the ballot for the March 15, 2016 Primary Election.

The planning process began in November 2014 when Anders Dahlgren of Library Planning Associates was contracted to update the building program with population projections and statistics. The public input began in April 2015 with Open Houses to gather community input on services for a 21st century library. Public meetings throughout the summer and fall gathered more feedback as the plans came together, helping to refine the concept plans. A telephone survey tested community support for the targeted maximum tax impact. Ultimately, public support for the project will be measured at the ballot box in March.

Visit the Building and Expansion Planning web page for the latest information on the plans and to provide feedback.

The Library Board meetings are Thursday, December 3 at 7:00pmin the Storytime room and Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30pm in the Small Meeting Room. All are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Conference Call in the Parking Lot

Today, our Senior Services Liaison has a conference call scheduled with the Alzheimer’s Association. She’ll be in the parking lot, sitting in her car during that call. Why? Because her office is a workroom shared with her supervisor and 18 coworkers. What about another room? There isn’t one available. Every staff space is used for multiple functions. Even the Library Director’s office doubles as the staff conference room. This is not employees whining about working conditions. It’s the reality of working in the current Library building. The lack of space affects every level of service, from how and where employees work to how many people can attend a program. A lot of time and energy is spent on making do with physical space constraints that could be spent on providing service.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Comment: I Love the Fancy New Doors.

We’re very pleased to have a functional, accessible automatic door! You may have noticed the increasingly frequent outages of the swing-arm door opener in the year prior to the replacement. As the only accessible entrance to this public building, it is imperative to have a functional automatic opener. Every other entry to the building requires going up or down stairs.

Because Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility was not yet part of the building code when the Library was built 25 years ago, there was no automatic opener on the doors until the early 2000’s. At that time, a swing-arm power opener was retro-fitted to the existing doors. The high volume of traffic through those front doors put years of hard use on the opener.

In the 2012 Building Evaluation, replacement of that opener was estimated to cost approximately $50,000 due to the anticipated cost of redesigning the existing vestibule area to accommodate automatic sliding doors more appropriate to the volume of use. Due to the anticipated cost, the Board of Library Trustees sidelined the project until it simply could not wait any longer. When Midwest Automatic Door submitted a proposal that used the existing door openings, it was a very pleasant surprise to have the replacement cost come in under $20,000.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Comment: The Library building is fine! It looks good. Why not keep it?

In July, the Board of Trustees decided to pursue new construction only. The order-of-magnitude cost estimates of the renovation-and-addition versus new construction showed that renovation actually cost more due to project phasing and moving expenses. The summary of the issues considered in making this decision are summarized on the final page of the July presentation.

That summary includes many of the problems with the existing building. While it looks good on the surface, it's deficiencies are numerous when you take a closer look. The 2012 Building Evaluation enumerates the extensive repair and replacement needs to continue operating this building in the long term, as at nearly 25 years old, nearly every system is at or beyond its expected useful life. The study shows only the building systems and does not address its deficiencies for providing 21st century library service. The Library Board of Trustees have determined that the most cost-effective long term solution is new construction on the current site, with the inclusion of at least two additional properties.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Placemakers and Landmarks

Check out this great article in Library Journal about the New Landmark Libraries 2015 winners! It highlights the trends found among the winners that demonstrate the new norms of 21st century libraries. The article states:

“The 2015 trends foreground the value public libraries are providing to their communities in the 21st century and illustrate how libraries are out in front as investors in community development and health. The visibility our Landmarks achieve enables each library (and its staff, services, and collections) to connect to the neighborhood, the town or city, and its surroundings in ways that truly celebrate what a difference access to information can make in people’s lives. We’ve identified nine additional trends from this year’s competition that further the concept of what a public library is or can be in today’s society.”

The nine trends are:
1) Libraries are their communities
2) Productive partnerships
3) Libraries as placemakers
4) Creative culture catalysts
5) Aspirational and accessible
6) Libraries breathe and grow
7) Transparent and light-filled
8) Connected to the environment
9) Boundless

These are the very things we are trying to achieve for the Plainfield community! Visit the Building & Expansion Planning web page to learn about the planning process!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 10 Reasons New Construction Makes More Sense than Renovation and Addition

1. Cost
It may seem counterintuitive, but order of magnitiude cost estimates placed renovation and addition to the existing Library at $1 million MORE expensive than new construction of the same total square footage. The two key factors in that difference are phased construction and moving costs. In phased construction, contractors set up, begin work, complete the addition, clean up and leave the site. The Library moves into the addition. Then contractors return, set up, begin work, complete the renovation, clean up and leave the site. The Library moves into the full space. You pay twice for the set up and clean up by the contractors as well as for two moves. In new construction, the new building is built on the Library property, the Library moves in, the existing building is razed and the parking lot completed.

2. Efficient Use of Site
The existing building is built to the lot lines on 2 1/3 sides of the building, which limits the location of an addition. An addition to the west side of the building cuts off access to Lockport Street from parking and entrance to the building. Site constraints force a long, narrow addition that would be inefficient operationally. An addition to the north side of the building cuts off access to Illinois Street from parking and entrance to the building. Constructing a new building on the north side of the property maintains access to Illinois Street and the downtown businesses, placing the parking convenient to all of those uses.

3. Accessibility
The existing building requires extensive renovation to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The most notable deficiencies in this area are the main and staff entrances. The street level lobby area does not provide sufficient space between the inner doors and the base of the stairs. The staff entrance is accessed via metal stairs on the exterior of the building. New construction can more efficiently incorporate best practices in Library design comply with all aspects of ADA, from maximum heights for book shelves to elevator size and aisle widths.

4. Life Safety
The existing building requires extensive renovation to meet current life safety codes. The location of the boiler next to the main electrical shut offs with no physical separation. This is just one example of building system design that was acceptable in 1990, but not in 2015. New construction builds to current code without the need to retrofit existing systems and spaces to new specifications.

5. Energy Code Compliance
The location and orientation of new construction on the north side of the site, with the main entrance and front wall facing south is key to energy efficiency and takes best advantage of natural light. The windows, lighting and boiler of the existing building do not meet today’s energy efficiency standards. Compliance with those standards will also help to mitigate the operational cost of a larger building. Renovation and addition to an existing building again requires extensive work to meet the new standards.

6. Open, Flexible Floor Plan
One of the top priorities for creating a Library that can serve this community in the long term is creating an open, flexible floor plan that can be reconfigured to meet the changing needs of the community. The pillars, columns and large open stairwell in the center of the main floor of the existing library do not allow for this type of floor plan without significant cost. New construction is designed to be open and flexible to allow for future change.

7. Efficient Floor Plan for Library Operations
The “raised ranch” floor plan of the existing library is operationally inefficient. If a floor plan lines up to the existing floors, a larger amount of the site must be used to achieve the total square footage needed. If the addition and existing floors do not align, the number of levels and space needed for lobbies and stairwells to access each is increased. That leaves less overall space for library services as well as increasing the operational cost for personnel.

8. Parking
The Library parking lot functions as one of the main public parking facilities for the downtown. The size and location of parking on the Library site is critical. Maintaining access to Illinois Street and downtown businesses was factor in the selection of new construction over renovation and addition. The placement of the parking between downtown businesses and the Library makes sense in the context of the current location.

9. Duration and Disruption of Construction
In a phased renovation and addition project, the timeline is extended to allow for the additional move and reset from constructing the addition to renovating the existing building. In this scenario, the Library operates within a construction site for approximately 24 months. It will negatively impact day-to-day operations. In new construction, the duration is less because phasing is not required. The disruption is minimized because the construction is physically separated from the operating Library.

10. Moving Twice/Temporary Configuration
Moving a Library is very costly. There are a large number of items to move. The items are heavy. Think about the last time you had to move a box of books. Now multiply by thousands. The Library is closed to the public during the move. To minimize the time closed, the boxes must be kept in order so the items go back onto the shelves in order. A temporary configuration must be designed to allow access to the collection, public computers, meeting rooms and accommodate staff work space. In new construction, the Library will continue to operate until the new building is complete. Once moved into the new building, the existing building would be razed and the parking lot completed.

Click here to view the presentation from the July Board meeting when the decision was made to pursue new construction.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Comment: Citizen Advocates for Library

The Library received the following comment on a feedback survey: “I would like more information on how citizens can advocate for the needs of the library. I feel improvements and expansion are needed for the vital services provided by the library for the sake of the public good.”

Some interested and involved folks are organizing a citizens committee in support of Library expansion. I will share their meeting and contact information when it becomes available.

In the meantime, attend an expansion planning public meeting to hear about the process to date and give feedback. It’s a critical time for input from the community, to ensure that the project fits the community’s needs within the cost that the community is ready to support! Visit the Building & Expansion Planning web page for the latest information and to take the latest survey.

The next public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 8, 7pm at the Plainfield Township Community Center.