Library needs assessment presented to Council

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Library needs assessment presented to Council
by Robyn Ireland, Correspondent · January 24th, 2019

The Marion Library Board of Trustees met with the City Council on Monday, January 14, to review the needs assessment for the new library.

The current Marion Public Library has already out-grown the original needs assessment, done eight years ago, for a new building. This assessment was done by Engberg Anderson, Inc. and presented Monday night by Joe Huberty.

Library Director Hollie Trenary explained the three-pronged approach used for the study: what space is available today and how to best utilize it, what library usage is going to look like over the next twenty years, and how a Marion mixed use building might be adapted for the use of the library.

An important piece of the vision is that libraries are no longer solely repositories of printed materials, but also need to incorporate rapidly growing technology and new tools that deliver information in ways we've never had before. As a point of reference, the current library was built the same year the World Wide Web was released for public use. Cell phones, electronic devices and wi-fi have also changed how patrons use the computing resources in libraries across the country and certainly at our own facility. And the pace of changing technology is only going to move faster in the years to come.

Another crucial concept the Board is keeping in mind is the footprint the library will continue to make being located downtown. Not only is it a resource for many people who cannot drive, but it also draws people from other parts of the city to the downtown area. This is something the City Council also wants to maintain. The new structure will be a focal point for social and cultural experiences for children, young adults and adults alike, so the space needs to be highly flexible.

Library needs are typically evaluated on eight different kinds of spaces:

Collections space is what we are traditionally used to seeing: shelving where books, other printed material, and DVDs are kept.

Reader seating is for small groups or individuals to gather and work on homework or use their own electronic devices.

Computers and other electronic devices belonging to the library would be located in technology seating.

Activity space is where learning opportunities could be utilized, largely geared to children and young adults.

Meeting/training rooms, a demo kitchen/banquet area and a board/conference area that could be divided into smaller areas or combined into a larger space for events would be in the Program/Multi-purpose space.

Staff space is where the library personnel would carry out their duties. This would include check out desks and work stations.

Special and dedicated use space would include a break room for staff and storage.

And lastly, Multipliers would be where the heating/cooling systems, electrical systems, and stairs (if any) would be located.

Dreaming big, the total space required to include all of that would be 63,000 square feet. However, if a few areas are scaled back, 52,000 square feet would work. The current Marion Public Library space is 24,500 square feet. Given the above, Huberty presented four possible plans. Option one: a 63,000 square foot space and have all of the library assets located in the downtown building. Option two: a 52,000 square foot facility and add a mobile library that would travel around the city, to schools, trailer parks and other areas that might have difficulty getting to the downtown structure. Option three: a 46,000 square foot building downtown and a branch library in the North quadrant of the city. Option four: the same concept as three, but with an additional East Branch.

The needs assessment study has already been reviewed to both City Manager Lon Pluckhahn and the building planning group. Everyone feels the multi-purpose building can accommodate 52,000 square feet. The new library will likely be on two levels, with administration and meeting rooms would be on the upper level. This would require minimal staff to maintain.

The session ended with Huberty, Trenary and Pluckhahn answering questions.