Library Planning Update: Staff and Community Spaces

Here’s an update about our third meeting with the architects working on the library proposal.

In general, a library has community, collection, staff and unassigned spaces. Unassigned spaces include restrooms and mechanical operations. The architects facilitated a discussion focused on community and spaces.

In our discussion, the architects presented new types of staff spaces for us to consider. Those new ideas can support our current model of service as well as evolve to meet changing needs over time. Our current staff space doesn’t match today’s needs and creates large inefficiencies.

To help us understand modern staff space, we held this week’s meeting at Miron Construction. We received a tour of their facility. Employees shared how their open office layout enhances relationships, efficiency and organizational strategies. We learned how they have adapted spaces to be effective for their employees. We also learned how their building supports healthy lifestyles. The tour will help us make decisions about staff spaces within the proposed library.

We also discussed community spaces. This discussion is an important part of this process. We have a high volume of public meetings held at the library, as well as high library program attendance.

When the current facility opened in 1981, we had 110 meeting room uses. Last year we had 4,645. Almost 45,000 people attended library classes and events. Meetings and events hosted by community organizations bring in tens of thousands of people in addition.

Is Appleton unusual for having a voracious appetite for getting together in groups to meet at the library? No. Is this a recent trend? Not at all. Community space is something that libraries have always provided.

If you visit other libraries, you will find there are several types of community spaces that have become common. Those spaces include conference rooms, computer labs, maker spaces, black box rooms, teen and children’s programming spaces, study rooms, lecture halls and auditoriums. Our discussion included understanding the options and the impact they have on library design and function.

Planning a facility with spaces to support programs, services and community organizations, who in some cases haven’t even been born yet, is not an easy task; but it’s not impossible. Our community accomplished this when city leaders developed the plans for the current facility.

Forty years ago, leaders designed a multi-functional flexible meeting space. They also designed a library that accommodated for future uses that were unimaginable at the time of construction. Our goal is to provide similar visionary resources to spark the imagination and passion of our community.

The architects will be hosting focus groups and a community open house in August. We will post more details about that soon. Thanks for keeping up with the library project. Please let us know if you have questions.