The Allegan District Library held a community meeting last Wednesday evening at the AAESA Education Service Center to seek community input on its plans to expand and renovate the library.
The meeting included presentations by Library Board President, Carol Browne, Library Director Lindsey Dorfman & Quinn Evans Architects whom the Library Board hired in May for their expertise in historic preservation including a past project that involved restoring the Carnegie Library in Howell, MI.
Carol Browne, Library Board President spoke to the group about why the library board feels an expansion and renovation of the library is needed to adequately meet the needs of current and future library users. She mentioned that the board began exploring the option of renovation because of the concerns that they heard from library members regarding access into and within the library.
Browne stated, “It would have been relatively easy to just figure out how to attach an elevator to our facility but our reading and self-education has led to an understanding that our community deserves more. Libraries are no longer places where people only come to check out books. They have become community platforms where members expect to gain access and training, to have opportunities to create, learn and share. Many Carnegie Libraries have been abandoned or repurposed because they were too small or inflexible. Allegan District Library Board is passionate about continuing to be an important partner in the growth and development of this community – as the community changes, we want to be ready to respond appropriately, maybe even be part of leading the way”
Library Director, Lindsey Dorfman, discussed the results of the Needs Assessment conducted this winter by Library Planner, George Lawson, with input from the library board, staff and community members. In addition to improved accessibility, the following pressing needs were identified in the assessment: an enhanced meeting room space, the addition of small meeting rooms, a larger more dynamic children’s space, a better designed teen area and improved access to technology.
These improvements will allow the library to offer enhanced programing and services including post-secondary education opportunities, exploratory learning experiences for children, a safe supervised place for teens to go in the community and access to state of the art technology equipment and professional computer software. Dorfman said “All of these wonderful improvements require space and space is something we lack. The ultimate size of our library will reflect the library board’s judgment during this planning process. However, the needs assessment indicates that an additional 12,000 sq. feet would be justifiable to meet our pressing needs”.
Jim Mumby and Ann Dilcher of Quinn Evans presented a number of options that would give the library the additional 12,000 sq. feet it needs, including, tearing down parts of the existing library, adding a second addition and building a new library somewhere outside of downtown.
There were approximately 30 people in attendance. A majority of community members present endorsed the option of building a two story addition along Hubbard Street that would connect the new and historical sections of the library as the most economical solution that would provide enough space for additional programming and services.
The library board will take into account the input and feedback from the community when deciding which option for renovation and expansion to explore further. Community members are encouraged to contact, Library Director, Lindsey Dorfman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 269-673-4625 with feedback and comments.
Copies of the Needs Assessment can be found online at https://alleganlibrary.org/library-assess-future-needs/