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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. Josie Recording of June 20th Downtown Library Forum

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AADL Community Forums: Notes from Question & Answer Sessions, Information Stations and Comment Cards June 9th, 10 am – 12 pm June 12th, 7 pm – 9 pm June 20th, 7 pm – 9 pm Question & Answer • Board – Decision making process? • Downtown security needs • Branch Expansion: ➢ Size-opportunity? ➢ Bigger branches? • Building in Northwest quadrant of service area? • How does technology factor into the renovation vs. new building question? • How do energy and water needs fit into the Downtown building question? • Sustainability: Question about re-using existing structures whenever possible • Economy: How do economic changes factor in? In this climate how do you “sell” changes to Downtown building? • What would the timeline be in the case that a bond passed? • Can you bridge the library to the parking lot and build 2 or 3 stories up? • Does the Board have a commitment to build a library that reflects the intellectual and cultural sophistication of the A2 community? • Can you add space on the footprint? • Does $65 million include moving, etc.? • What is your track record on over-runs? • Consider a separate building for archives • What would the cost be to rebuild just the 4th story section of the current building? • Can some portion of the current building (newer portion) be kept and renovated? • NOT environmentally sound to tear down such a new building as AADL. • How is a library different from a cultural/community center – or isn’t it? • What’s the gap between what we’re able to do now and what we perceive the need will be in the future? • Has there been any consideration of changing the site? • What will happen to service while construction is taking place? • Do the library board and leadership have an opinion about what should happen with the city property next door? • When considering renovation, how extensive was the consideration? • If there’s less need for space for stacks, is there a need or what is the need for greater square feet than what we have? • Do we see serving the underserved/homeless as part of the equation and how, when considering the future? • Why isn’t the library protecting TIFF money more aggressively? • Why can’t an architectural plan be set forth for the public before going for a bond? Children • What do usage statistics show in terms of use in the youth area? Is it growing or decreasing? In particular, since 2008. • For youth area: Have sections, multi-purpose rooms • Need flexibility to be ready for the changes to come. Even if we don’t know what the change will be, we know there will be change. Finances • Partner with the Library for the Blind and Handicapped, AACIL , AA Schools, AASPARK, University of Michigan to promote AADL benefits to the public • Is $65 million enough? Research/Archives • Giving people, especially children, access to historic materials • Create email updates to AADL members about recent archive research • Solicit from members additional archival material • Establish oral history studio/program, a la “StoryCorps” • Coordinate with Ann Arbor schools research outreach to AADL that coincides with local history curriculum (4th grade?) Quiet Reading Room • Reading space • Easily maintained furniture • Location very important • Large-size • Low volume • Larger space • Whole floors and smaller study spaces • Multi-use: laptops, books, maps, etc. • Tables and chairs • Working spaces and comfortable spaces (chairs, not couches) • Comfortable chairs • Comfortable chairs – used for longer time. • Foot stools, works as extra seating • Mix of seating • Comfortable chairs for browsing, reading on laptops and tables, etc. • Enclosed space chairs (high back, table) • Rugs • Fireplace needs a door (automatic); comfortable concept like Pittsfield • Lots of power sources • Separate computer space • Combine with magazines and newspapers • Book suggestions/collections available in the room (new, staff picks) • Magazines, reading materials • Enter to quiet space without going through other space • Quiet room, lots of nice chairs, small and large tables, windows, automatic slide doors • Quiet areas in branches should be quieter • White noise • Lots of light • Windows, natural light! • Good light at night • Absolutely well lit • Very important to have staff oversight Meeting & Gathering Spaces • Shortage of large meeting space in downtown Ann Arbor • More free meeting spaces for community groups of 6-20 people would make the library a more important community center and of greater value to the community, e.g., the Arab American Parent support group would like to meet in the library but often cannot – so we meet elsewhere. • Separate entrance for events from outside – would help with after-hours counts • Separate entrance a great idea • Outside entrance to program room • Improve meeting accommodation – frequency for group meetings • Why does it fall to library to be meeting space? • Why is there no other civic gathering space? • Cost of gathering spaces? • Meeting space on the 1st floor Downtown meeting space • Theater/Performance space • MP Room needs to be replaced. Tired of looking at back of peoples’ heads • Larger room for video and panel discussions • If I sit in back of a room, it is hard to see; raise/angled seating cost? • Sloped floor in meeting space • Bottom of screen seen at back of the room • Cramped space in MP Room • Seating now is not comfortable • Lack of free parking for events and library use • We need to comfortably handle the usual large turnout • Lighting options that are flexible to use (zone dimmers, spot lighting so one can write while lights are down, etc.) • Power strips • Film screen on stage • Amphitheater seating • Friends bookshop/bookstore • Friends space – more! • Food and drink/café • Need more book related events • Will a new library affect the branches? • More elevators • Storage lockers for public – for free Infrastructure • Take pressure off of DTN by opening another branch – Borders at Arborland? • Parking and buses available • Bus station visibility • If there is a building on top of the parking lot next door, connect DTN to it via a walkway. Parking below and offices/library above. Could rent out extra space. • Put archives, IT, mechanical in large basement with access from library lot, elevators. • Ground floor public space: Have a huge door that opens like a garage door so the fresh air and light is available in lovely days • Please do not tear own the original Alden Dow-designed part of the building. Could it be incorporated into a new design? • I’m up for new structure while saving any old possible stuff • Investigate solar energy • More elevators, more power strips • Staff work spaces must be usable • Staff lounge • Staff safety • Free parking for patrons only Other • Helping people efficiently navigate their way in the vast amount of information potentially available to them from the web will be very important, e.g., how do I find the best apps to link my iPhone to my laptop so I have access to my computer files from my phone. • Computer classes important!


I wish this plan included some sort of cafe/something to bring the community in that would make the library a "destination" like the Denver Public Library.

A cafe was part of the program developed in 2008. It is great to know that a cafe is still considered a "destination" feature for a downtown library.


Please keep the downtown library the place to go to look at books. Although I love my branch, if I'm looking for books, but not sure what I want, I head downtown. Having one place to go where one can get a good overview of different genres is priceless. Exposing people to books should also be the primary function of a library. Although my family enjoys the other programs, don't forget your core mission

I just want to add my support for upgrading the downtown library, both the "seen" like more study space, use of tech, and the "unseen" building upgrades. I agree with other patrons who have said that the ability to browse is better at the main building than at the branches, and that this is an important and desirable feature.

After attending the Kids Read Comics event this past weekend, I also strongly support improved meeting spaces so the library can host events and groups alike. I love our library and am pleased at the community enhancement made possible by hosting such events. (I spent some of my time in the artists alley telling artists how lucky I think we are to have the AADL and its wonderful programs, like the summer game.)

dear cherylo,

Thank you so much for your comment, and particularly putting it together with what you experienced at the Kids Read Comics event. I was there, too, for part of the time and it was so much fun to see so many people enjoying the library at a comics convention. It is very helpful to have attendees letting the artists know how you feel about the Library, too. We are a long way from NYC and LA, and it takes some convincing to get folks here for the first time. Having a library user and comic reader talk us up will help us continue as a venue for that event and others equally interesting, but not typical in a town our size.



Me too!
I would love it if there like a cafe or something like that in the library. It would definitely make the library seem more welcome and friendlier.


The service program that was developed in 2008 did include a lobby coffee shop. That portion of the building could also be open before and after library hours. It is good to know that a coffee shop would make the library friendlier and more welcoming.


I'd like to see you consider just doing an addition and renovation rather than a full tear-down. Perhaps adding on where the staff parking lot is? Or building a new building over part of the underground parking structure and then tearing down the current library and making that open space. Closing the building for 2-3 years seems unacceptable and unnecessary.


If your primary concern is a closure and disruption of services, then it is important for you to know that we would need to disrupt service in the building no matter what is decided. We cannot operate the library with the dust and noise of a construction project within our walls without causing a completely different type of disruption! We did plan to continue library service downtown in a different location during the construction period. While it would be a limited service compared to what we have now, we would plan to do that if a project does occur.

You listed several options and I can assure you that over the past five years, all of them have been considered in various configurations. There are pro's and con's to every one of those ideas, and the Library Board has weighed them carefully. If you haven't seen the video of the three community forums, I encourage you to view them. Your questions have been asked by others and the answers are presented in the videos. I also encourage you to attend Library Board meetings. The next one is Monday, July 16, at 7:00 PM in the 4th Floor Board Room, Downtown.



Just wanted to thank you all (library, city, community members & library users) for moving forward on this project and becoming involved in the process. I love A2 libraries and use them almost every day. Let's make this happen!

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