December 14, 2011

  

Arlington’s Central Library Discusses Future Plans

Someday, in the not-too-distant future, your Central Library experience will be vastly different from the one you know today.

In November, the City began soliciting a second round of public input for the Library’s Central Visioning  project, a long-term, citizen-driven strategy for updates and improvements to the Central Library’s facility and services.

Citizen input collected in the earlier stages of the Visioning project helped library leadership form a clear picture of citizen needs and expectations for the future of the library, a vision that includes enhanced genealogy services, cultural programming, adult education, and technology-based learning opportunities for children, teens, and families.

“I think it’s going to be a place where people come and interact with each other and with information,” said Cary Siegfried, director of libraries. “In the future, it’s going to be much more of a people place than a warehouse for books.”

Siegfried said that the first stage of the Visioning project was focused on services, “rather than on the size, shape or color of the facility.”

“The vision statement we developed was based on services, while the second part of the process has been about matching the facility to the services,” she said.

An assessment of the Central Library facility identified areas requiring structural improvement, such as the elevator, roof, plumbing and asbestos abatement. In order to accommodate these improvements and enhanced programming, the Central Library facility will need up to an additional 36,000 in gross square footage.

In the latest stage of the project, citizens were asked to evaluate three options identified by the Central Visioning planning team as the most viable paths to creating a Central Library experience compatible with the project vision:

Option One: Renovation and expansion of the current Central Library facility, a $30 million project. Of the 1,300 respondents to the library’s Visioning survey, 46 percent indicated that this option was “very desirable”.

'Option Two: Construction of a new facility on the current site, a $39 million project. Twenty-two percent of the respondents rated this option “very desirable”.

Option Three: Construction of a new facility on a different site, a $42 million project. Fifteen percent of those responding indicated that this was a “very desirable” option.

The city council is expected to discuss these options and possible funding scenarios over the next several work sessions.

“I believe that this project will ultimately be funded by a combination of taxpayer dollars and private funds,” said Siegfried. “I don’t think there is a library being built these days that doesn’t have some private fundraising.”

Siegfried described her work on the project as highly enjoyable.

“I’ve especially enjoyed the public input, the number of people who responded to the survey with such positive comments about what the library means to them. That was wonderful for the library to see.”


 
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