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AADL Building Projects

The Library Branch Expansion Project

The vision of branch libraries for the Ann Arbor Library system began with former Library Director Homer Chance. Recognizing the need for access to materials and facilities beyond the Downtown Library, Chance opened the first branch library in Ann Arbor - the Loving Branch - in 1965. In 1977 the West Branch opened its doors and the Northeast Branch began serving the community in 1981.

In 1997, with a goal of providing superior public library services into the future, the Library embarked on a Facilities Need Analysis of the library system by consultant David Smith. His study found the three branch libraries severely lacking in square footage to meet current and future public needs.

Using data gathered in surveys, on-site interviews, and estimates of projected material collection sizes in the year 2020, Smith’s study called for the construction of several larger branch libraries to serve the long-term community needs. These would accommodate projected collection sizes and provide adequate meeting, event, storytime and teen spaces as well as areas for growing technology and staff work areas.

Since 1997, the Library has been working toward the goal of creating these larger, more functional branches constructed within the Library’s current authorized millage.

If you would like to donate to our building projects fund, you can do so on the Support AADL page or feel free to contact us with your suggestions or feedback.

Westgate Branch

Westgate Branch

The Westgate Branch, the smallest and oldest of the Ann Arbor District Library branches, is about to expand.

Although AADL Library services have increased and expanded over the last decade, Westgate Branch has not been remodeled for over 21 years. The branch originally opened in Maple Village Shopping Center in 1977, moved to Westgate Shopping Center in 1983 and was remodeled ten years later in 1994, adding 2,314 square feet.

Westgate Branch, which currently has 5,500 square feet, is still approximately only 1/3 of the size of the other AADL branches. Its circulation figures match and even surpass some of the other branches, and the current Westgate space has no room for events and youth storytimes, popular and important features at all other locations.

The new expansion will add 16,500 square feet to create a branch with 21,000 square feet for its users. New features will include:
• 2 new public entrances, allowing for additional parking access from the rear Westgate parking lot
• A Kids area with story space for preschool and baby storytimes
• Additional space for books and other library materials
• 5 open study rooms for use by adults, teens and youth
• A community meeting and event space for authors, lectures, performances and other events
• 2 small group meeting rooms
• A comfortable reading room with a fireplace
• Additional seating and workspaces with additional wiring for computers and other electronic devices
• A café operated by a local business

Read more about the Westgate Branch and follow the progress of the expansion.

Downtown Library

Downtown Library Project

The current Downtown Library building consists of three different phases of construction: the original building built in 1957, a 1974 addition that doubled the size of that building, and a 1991 addition that doubled the building's size again. In 2007, the AADL hired library consultants PROVIDENCE Associates LLC to undertake a study examining the functions of this building and evaluating the building's feasibility for the next 20 years. The results of this study, which consisted of focus groups with over 100 users of the Downtown Library, led the AADL to begin the process of redesigning the Downtown Library.

The findings of this study led the AADL Board to issue a Request for Qualifications for Architectural and Engineering Services that eventually resulted in the selection of Luckenbach">Ziegelman Architects, PLLC of Ann Arbor. A joint survey with the Downtown Development Authority in spring 2008 provided the AADL with feedback from over 6000 members of the Ann Arbor community about the future of the Downtown Library. This survey was followed in June 2008 with three public meetings, open to all members of the community, about the Downtown Library Project.

In November 2008, the Library Board voted to suspend the Downtown Library Project as a result of the economic downturn.

Read more about the Downtown Library Project.

Traverwood Branch

Traverwood Branch

The Traverwood Branch Library, opened on June 30, 2008, is situated on 4.34 acres located in the southwest corner of Traverwood Drive and Huron Parkway in Ann Arbor. The Branch is a one-story building of approximately 16,500 square feet which replaced the Northeast Branch of AADL, located in Plymouth Mall.

The Traverwood Branch serves as a community-based learning center that delivers superior customer service, primarily to the residents of the northeast quadrant of Ann Arbor. The library includes a casual study area, a laptop computer bar, four study rooms and a meeting room with seating for 90. Electronic resources include 24 public computer terminals, 20 of which are located in an Electronic Training classroom, and wireless internet access.

Traverwood Branch is designed to have as little impact on natural landscape features as possible. Sustainable design features include an innovative stormwater management system and the reuse of harvested ash trees from the building site. A rain garden is located on the south side of the building. The design of the Branch takes advantage of natural day lighting.

Read more about the Traverwood Branch or visit our image gallery to see architect's drawings and photos of the construction.

Pittsfield Branch

Pittsfield Branch

Opened in March 2006, the Pittsfield Branch was designed to accommodate the needs of a library for a growing neighborhood while protecting the wetland on which it sits. The Pittsfield Branch is located on 5.74 acres of land on Oak Valley Drive in Pittsfield Township. It is a one-story building of approximately 14,600 square feet and is adjacent to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube arena.

The Branch serves as a community-based learning center that delivers superior customer service, primarily to the residents of the southwest quadrant of Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township.

While its primary mission is to deliver traditional library services, the facility also includes a casual study area with vending and seating for 24 people and a meeting room for groups up to 100. The facility also houses a reading room for comfortable, leisurely reading, several quiet study and tutor rooms, and exhibit space for local artists and organizations. Electronic resources include 35 computer terminals, 18 of which are located in an Electronic Training classroom.

The building and the surrounding landscape capitalize on environmental principles, thereby allowing the overall project to operate more in harmony with the ecosystem and the community in which it serves.

Read more about the Pittsfield Branch or visit our image gallery to see photos and drawings of the building.

Malletts Creek Branch

Malletts Creek Branch

Opened in January 2004, the Malletts Creek Branch is a unique model of sustainable design featuring solar heating, natural day lighting, a vegetated green roof, convection cooling, naturally captured and filtered storm water, native plants and grasses, and many uses of materials that are renewable resources. The Malletts Creek Branch was awarded the 2005 American Institute of Architects Michigan (AIA Michigan) Award for Sustainable Design.

The Malletts Creek Branch is a one-story building of approximately 14,000 square feet that serves as a community-based learning center that delivers superior customer service, primarily to the residents of the southeast quadrant of Ann Arbor. It replaced the Loving Branch, which was no longer of adequate size to serve its customer base.

While its primary mission is to deliver traditional library services, the Branch also serves as a true community. This facility includes a vending area with seating for 20 people and a program room for groups of up to 120 people. The branch contains a collection of approximately 35,500 items. Electronic resources include 28 computer terminals, 18 of which are located in an Electronic Training classroom.

Read more about the Malletts Creek Branch or visit our image gallery to see photos and drawings of the building.

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Blog Post

Westgate Will Open on Tuesday, September 6

Mon, 08/01/2016 - 1:08pm by josie

The Westgate branch of the AADL will open on Tuesday, September 6 at 9:00 AM. We invite you to visit this newly renovated location, and to join us there for a public celebration on Sunday, September 18, at 12:00 PM. We will have music, food, and fun for all ages at this celebration of a new library in a familiar place.


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AADL Welcomes Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea to Westgate Branch!

Fri, 02/19/2016 - 5:37pm by eli

Library patrons will soon be able to enjoy a delicious cup of fresh coffee or tea as they browse new collections at the expanded Westgate Branch Library!

Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea signed a sublease this week to operate a café adjacent to the Branch when it re-opens in late summer. Lisa Bee, Sweetwaters owner and founder, says, “We are so excited and thrilled to join the AADL family and Westgate. To be a part of the first Ann Arbor library where patrons can enjoy a treat with their favorite book is a great honor.”

According to Library Director Josie Parker, “The Ann Arbor District Library's opportunity to expand in place at the Westgate Shopping Center allows the Library to consider and develop a new and different type of partnership. We are pleased to launch this public/private partnership between the Library and Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea. Sweetwaters opening will coincide with the reopening of the expanded Library in late summer 2016.”

Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea was founded in 1993 by Lisa and Wei Bee in downtown Ann Arbor. Both Wei and Lisa are UM graduates who decided to stay in Ann Arbor, continue their families’ hospitality tradition, and become a part of the Ann Arbor business community.

Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea is a warm, comfortable, coffeehouse that offers a blend of traditional European espresso drinks, globally inspired beverages, beautiful Asian teas, delicious desserts, pastries, and savory treats.

Library Board President Jan Barney Newman adds, “It is with great anticipation that the Trustees of the Library look forward to Sweetwaters presence in the expansion of the Westgate Branch. A gathering place on its own, Sweetwaters will be a great asset to the Library and the Westgate Community. “

The new Westgate Branch expansion adds 16,500 square feet to create a branch with 21,000 square feet for its users. The Branch closed in late November and construction is now underway.

Updates on this project can be found on the library website. For more information, visit westgate.

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Lectures & Panel Discussions

Ann Arbor and the Huron River Watershed, with Dave Wilson of the Huron River Watershed Council

Tuesday January 6, 2015: 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

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Blog Post

Paolo Soleri, creator of counterculture architectureal wonder, Arcosanti, has died

Wed, 04/10/2013 - 12:17pm by sernabad


[s:soleri paolo|Paolo Soleri] whose signature architectural Arizona community combined his love of design with his passion for sustainability, has died.

Soleri, a [s:wright frank lloyd|Frank Lloyd Wright] apprentice, put his ideas about the cons of urban sprawl and the necessity for simplicity into practice by building [|Arcosanti] in the Arizona desert. Using the principles of his coined beliefs, arcology (blending architecture with ecology), Soleri put them into practice at Arcosanti, his living laboratory located 67 miles north of Phoenix. The unique bee hive buildings in this compact community opened in 1970 and remains a viable neighborhood with more than 50,000 visitors every year.

Soleri believed that, in order for nature to survive, the human population must minimize its footprint on the planet. Soleri envisioned 5000 residents at Arcosanti, but the actual population never exceeded more than a few hundred people. Some of the features of the buildings at Arcosanti are the use of concrete poured on site, ceramic tiles made on site, and a large patio that has 12-foot swinging glass doors that can be closed to accommodate the [|greenhouse effect].

Soleri studied with [a:wright frank lloyd|Franklin Lloyd Wright], moving from Italy in 1947 to work with Wright at [|Taliesin West] in Scottsdale, AZ.

Soleri, who was 93, died yesterday and was buried at Arcosanti.

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Downtown Library 2012: Facts about the Downtown Library Bond Proposal

Wed, 10/24/2012 - 9:55am by josie

We've been getting many questions about the upcoming Bond Proposal. We have put together this list of the most common questions and factual answers. Please don't hesitate to comment on this post or email us at if you have further questions. Thanks for your interest in the library!

What is the Downtown Library Bond Proposal?

Residents of the Ann Arbor District Library service area will find a proposal for a bond to fund a project to replace the downtown library at the end of their November 6th ballot. If approved, the proposal will authorize the sale of up to $65 Million of bonds, and authorize the library to levy an annual property tax millage for up to 30 years to make the bond payments.

Why is the Downtown Library Bond being proposed now?

The current building will need major investment over the coming years to maintain or upgrade aging infrastructure. This will require increasing percentages of AADL's operating budget. With interest rates at unprecedented lows and construction costs still well below average, the AADL Board of Trustees determined that now is the time for the community to decide if a new downtown library should be built, or if AADL should continue investing operating funds in the current inefficient building. In 2007, the AADL board studied the issue of whether to replace or renovate the Downtown Library to address the capacity issues, and it was found that a new building would cost only 10% more than a renovation. Those cost estimates were assessed again in 2012 and found to be still valid.

Why is the proposal for rebuilding a downtown library on the same site?

AADL owns the site of the current downtown library, and it is by far the most heavily used public library in the district. AADL is committed to making information, events, workspace, and collections available downtown, and current demand for these services is beyond the capacity of the current building. The compromises involved in the previous two renovations to the current downtown library building are a major factor that limits the ability of a third renovation to add space and efficiency, so the AADL Board voted to place the bond proposal on the November 6 ballot to seek public approval for a new downtown library on the current site.

Who is responsible for this project?

The publicly-elected Board of Trustees of the Ann Arbor District Library is the sole body responsible for the project, services, and facilities of the AADL. AADL is an independent taxing authority, and the Downtown Library Project is not affiliated with the Ann Arbor Public Schools, the City of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, or any other governmental or commercial entities.

How much will the project cost? What does that cost me?

The bond proposal seeks authorization to sell up to $65 million of bonds to be repaid over 30 years. That is enough to fund the estimated $53 million of construction costs, plus demolition, rental of temporary facilities during construction, furniture, equipment, technology, and other costs related to the project including permits, architectural and interior design, and engineering.

Once the bonds have been sold, the library will levy property taxes for the annual bond payments. Depending on the interest rate at which the bonds are sold, annual payments will by funded by a millage rate of .47 - .56 mills per year, meaning the cost to the owner of a $200,000 home with a $100,000 taxable value will be between $47 - $56 per year:

Property Market Value Property Taxable Value Library Bond Millage Per Year
$150,000 $75,000 $42
$200,000 $100,000 $56
$250,000 $125,000 $70
$300,000 $150,000 $84
$350,000 $175,000 $98
$400,000 $200,000 $112

The library currently levies 1.55 mills per year for operation, costing the owner of a $200,000 home with a $100,000 taxable value $155 per year.

When would the bond payments begin?

If the proposal is approved by voters, the bonds would be sold in spring of 2013, and the millage would appear on tax bills starting summer 2013.

If approved, what will happen to the Downtown Library?

It is AADL's intent to have a downtown library open to the public throughout the process. If approved, when the current building closes, a temporary downtown library will open in a rented space offering request pickup, drop boxes, internet access, a kids' area, and popular materials, until the new building opens. AADL will not lay off staff during construction. The current downtown collection will be temporarily relocated and available by request as always during the construction process, and will be brought back into the new building before it opens.

If approved, when would the project begin and end?

A solid timeline will be developed if the proposal is approved, but it is anticipated that the project will begin by spring 2014 and construction will last 18-27 months.

If approved, who would design and build the library?

The AADL Board will select an architect and construction manager if the bond proposal is approved. AADL Board meetings, as always, are open to the public.

If approved, how can the community give input on the design?

In addition to the public forums seeking public feedback on the project that were held on June 9, 2012, June 12, 2012, and June 20, 2012, AADL will offer many opportunities for the public to give input and feedback on the design of the project as it progresses if approved. Similar events were held throughout the design process for the Malletts Creek, Pittsfield, and Traverwood branches, and the public is invited to speak to the AADL Board of Trustees at the beginning of every AADL board meeting.

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Downtown Library 2012: The Vision | The Vote

Mon, 07/30/2012 - 5:32pm by josie

This evening the Library Board approved the bond language for a November 6, 2012 ballot proposal that would provide $65 million to fund the replacement of the Downtown Library at its current site at Fifth Avenue and William Street in Ann Arbor. The Board voted earlier in June to replace the Downtown Library, and now the bond language will be submitted to the Washtenaw County Clerk for inclusion on the ballot.

Questions about this decision are centering around a few key issues. Those questions are answered in [|The Vision | The Vote]. If your question is not contained here, please email, and we will answer your question and post it to the Director's Blog so that it is widely available.


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Downtown Library 2012: Library Board Votes to Place Bond Proposal on November 6 Ballot

Tue, 07/17/2012 - 9:15am by josie

At last evening’s Board meeting, the Board of AADL voted unanimously to place a bond proposal on the November 6, 2012 ballot for $65 million to replace the Downtown Library at its current location. Attached are the Library Board's resolution, press release, the Facilities Committee's recommendation, and some Downtown Library Facts & Figures.

The Board will meet on Monday, July 30 at 7:00 PM to approve the language for the ballot. We appreciate the questions, feedback and the attendance of so many of you through this website, and at the community forums held earlier this summer. Your questions are important and helpful as the Board and staff moves through this very important phase in our Library’s history. Video of each of the three forums, held on June 9, 2012, June 12, 2012, and June 20, 2012, and a summary of the feedback from the public is available on the Director's Blog.

You may use this blog or send your questions to All questions will be addressed and answers posted to this blog.


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Downtown Library 2012: Next Steps

Fri, 06/22/2012 - 7:39pm by josie

The third community forum to discuss the future of the downtown library was held on Wednesday, June 20. The [|video of the third forum] is posted below, and the others are available on the previous posts on this blog. In addition, the [|feedback from the information stations at all three events] have been collected and are included at the end of this post.

The Library Board and staff appreciate that so many individuals have taken up this discussion with a keen interest. Comments can be posted to this blog, or sent to We will acknowledge all communications by posting them on this blog.

The Library Board meets next on Monday, July 16, at 7:00 PM in the 4th Floor Board Room of the Downtown Library. A public comment period precedes the regular meeting and is a part of the Library Board agenda each month. All are welcome, and encouraged, to attend.


Recording of June 20th Downtown Library Forum

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Downtown Library 2012: 2nd Community Forum Update

Fri, 06/15/2012 - 10:05am by josie

The second community forum to discuss the future of the downtown library was held Tuesday, June 12 from 7:00 -8:45 PM in the Multipurpose Room at the Downtown Library. We appreciate those who have chosen to spend time talking with us about 21st century library service at the forums held on June 9 and June 12. The third forum will be held Wednesday, June 20, from 7:00 - 8:45 PM in the 4th Floor Meeting Room of the Downtown Library.

I am including the [|agenda] and the [|content of our information boards], along with [|this video of the discussion] in this message. This update also includes a [|video tour] of some of the non-public areas of the downtown library. Tours will also be available to those attending the forum on June 20, however, the tour is not accessible.

For those of you unable to attend, please don't hesitate to send your comments, questions or concerns to or comment on this post.


Recording of June 12th Downtown Library Forum

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