As the Plainfield Public Library District enters into a new space planning process, the question "how did we get to this point?" keeps coming up. I’ll give you the short version:
Following the explosive growth in the area through the early 2000s, the Plainfield Library went through a full planning process for the building and library service. A ballot question for expansion to over 100,000 square feet of library in two locations (a main library downtown and branch in the northwest section of the service area) went to vote in April 2009 and failed. Due to the economic downturn, the Library Board of Trustees deferred placing it on the ballot again despite the service limitations of the current facility. In 2011, the Trustees asked voters through a series of focus groups and open forums if they were ready for the Library’s question on the ballot again. The response was “yes, it’s needed, but we’re not ready to see it on the ballot yet.” At that time, the current facility surpassed the 20 year expected lifespan of most of its systems. Repair and replacement costs to keep the building operational began to skyrocket. The Trustees hired KJWW Engineering to perform a full building evaluation. The report identified over $2.6 million in repair and replacement needs to keep the building operational for the next 20 years, with recommendations for immediate, short and long term repairs and replacements. Addressing the most immediate needs, specifically the replacement of the roof and HVAC system in 2012, depleted the Library’s Special Reserve Fund. In 2013, a Long Range Budget Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees maintain the operability of the facility until a new plan for a ballot initiative could be developed. Targeting 2016 for a new ballot question, the Library Board of Trustees began the planning process in late 2014. Today, the Board of Trustees is focused on assembling a team of professionals to help them gather information and aid in the creation of a plan. Over the next year, input and feedback on the community’s library needs will be critical to develop a plan that meets those needs for the future in a way that the community supports.