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Westgate Branch to Expand

Mon, 09/21/2015 - 8:37pm by eli

Good news, Everyone! 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

Earlier this year, Westgate Branch neighbor Sun & Snow relocated out of the Westgate Mall. Pictures Plus will also relocate to a new Westgate location at the end of this month. These vacancies provide AADL with an opportunity to expand a popular branch location that already experiences over 200,000 visits per year.

AADL Trustees have signed a lease to expand the Branch and construction is expected to begin in November 2015 with an expected opening in summer 2016. Westgate Branch will close November 20 so that construction can begin, and staff working at that location will be re-assigned to alternate locations during the construction period. Construction costs will be paid upfront by Westgate Management and AADL will reimburse Westgate Management up to 1.2 million of the construction costs over the first 8 years of the lease.

In addition to expanding the Library for the convenience of current users, AADL is looking forward to welcoming many new patrons. AADL’s past openings of Malletts Creek, Pittsfield and Traverwood Branches all saw remarkable increases in use at each new branch, as well as across the Library system.

Updates on this project will be posted on the library website. For more information, visit westgate.


Wonderful news. I love the location and stop by there all the time, but was always a bit afraid this branch would be closed. Instead you do this! Thank you!

Yay! Finally west branch is going to get a makeover. I am glad you are not moving to another location. We visit every time we are in that part of town. Can't wait to see the final results.

Wow, this is awesome! Great work, guys. I'll miss the branch while it is closed, but looks like it will be well worth the wait.

This is wonderful news! West is our neighborhood branch and I'm thrilled to hear that it's not only staying, but growing. The expanded library will really add to Westgate, even if it does mean I'll likely have to park farther away when I go to buy my bagels :-)

Please consider having a book-return dropoff on the west side that you can access from your car window.

Awww, our "little library" isn't going to be so little anymore - it's growing up!! Hooray!!!

Yippee! Thank you for keeping the library within Westgate! The location has worked well for my family for years. I can't wait to tell my book-loving son!

The public library is not a "coffee house or café". I really object to having a café in any library. This expansion shows only a trivial increase in books or media. First you want a "Taj Mahal" downtown and now you want to go into the restaurant business. Please stick to books.

Please stick to books??

Dear AADL, Please DON'T stick to books! Please continue to thrive and grow! In this plan I see space for storytimes in my own neighborhood, as well as your extensive summer programming for children that our dear old West branch currently has no room for. I see space for tutoring sessions, private study, and more public computers. I see space for your amazing Tools collection which was recently featured in the New York Times -- that would not have happened had you just stuck to books! In this plan I see my son taking advantage of an expanded children's area and me taking advantage of being able to grab a cup of coffee in the same location I can grab my reserved materials. And a fireplace too?! What a boon to the west side of town this expanded library will be. There is nothing "trivial" about it!

And Taj Mahal? I was not aware of anyone that was hoping for a large mausoleum in downtown Ann Arbor. I think Forest Hill Cemetery, and related locations, have that covered.

Keep growing AADL! You are a large part of what makes our city great!

You seem to be someone who is totally clueless to the needs of the AADL. It needs to stay current AND UP TO CODES!!! The downtown branch is -literally- falling to pieces!! It is a tired old building, and this current constant 'fix something as it breaks down' situation is going to end up costing us all more in the long run.

I'm so glad the branch will stay in Westgate. We use it much more often because we are there for other errands and it is easy to stop by. I love the idea for a cafe and PLEASE include a drive-by drop box.

Wow, that is great. Anything that will make the library a better place is wonderful. The plans look great. I like the study rooms, meeting room, and reading room. And there's nothing wrong with a coffee shop, or cafe. That would be nice for parents who are waiting for children. I think the ideas are wonderful. Thank you for thinking modern.

I am so so so excited that the library will be able to expand programming and storytimes to the Westgate branch!

And I am so looking forward to curling up by the fireplace at the expanded branch next winter with a hot cup of FRESH coffee and a good book!

I am super excited for this, I've always wished that West was bigger and I am very excited for the new meeting rooms, and cafe. I can't wait to see what it looks like!!!!

I'm so excited about this expansion! I LOVE the idea of the cafe in the library especially since it will be operated by a local business. Anytime the library interacts with businesses in the community is a valuable opportunity! Also I am very happy to see the bigger children's area. I can't wait to see the final result!

Am OVERJOYED @ the news of expansion 2 West!!!!!!!! as soon as I saw Sun&Snow was leaving I was suggesting U take that space -Evidently I was in the majority with that opinion!!!

I'm so happy the community is getting an expanded library space in the Westgate Mall! West is a tiny branch with a lot of patrons and this was a long time coming. As a past employee, I'm also overjoyed to see that staff will have a break room!!! No more eating food while scrunched in the back workroom! I don't even work there anymore, but it still makes me happy ^_^

This is wonderful news!

I am very glad to hear that the expanded, improved branch of AADL will remain at Westgate.


The location in a shopping center is very convenient for adding a library stop onto any other errands.
We have ample free parking.
And the branch library is on the bus route, expanding access for all.

I would have been very sorry to hear of expansion plans which would give me a spacious new branch library, located far from the bus.
Keeping a dingy, small, convenient branch would be better than that.
And a larger renovated branch in the convenient location will be best of all.

Thank you, AADL!

- Betsy

P.S. Just be sure to continue to offer plenty of books :)

The books/dvds that I have on my request list where will we need go to pick them up?
Thank you

Hi Tracie, while Westgate is closed, requests that would have been sent to Westgate to pickup will be sent to Pittsfield. However, we're happy to move them for you, or change your pickup point. You can use Contact Us or call the renewal line at 327-4219 if you'd like your requests moved. But no rush, Westgate is still open for two more months! Thanks for your question!


What exciting news! My kids adore the West branch! I really am glad you are keeping its location. I think the integration into the surrounding area makes it more likely that new library users will wander in. I can't wait to see it -- it sounds like it will be wonderful. One request, as I know AADL has moved towards an open floor plan... Please, please make the children's space separate from the adult space. I love the feel of the children's room downtown -- it feels like a distinct space and also does not bother other users who are there for quiet reading.

I'm happy to see the Westgate branch expand but sorry that it'll be closed during the expansion. Is there no way to keep it operating during that time?

Expanding on my previous comment -- the West branch has a cosy and welcoming environment that I would hate to see eliminated. I hope there are lots of nooks and alcoves for library users to tuck themselves into. :)

Happy to hear about the expansion, sad about it closing during construction. Hopefully users can choose the branch they would like to use to pick up their requests.

While I think the expansion is a good thing, I'm concerned that the "library proper" area and other spaces for materials (books, magazines, DVDs, etc.) is smaller in this plan than it is now. While the plan shows more total area for the branch, most of that space is given up to seating areas and meeting rooms. I consider that to be a step backwards.

As others have mentioned, drive-up drop boxes would be excellent. However, it doesn't look like it could be implemented in the current plan. It would probably be better to have them located in the parking lot, anyway, not attached to the building.

Hopefully they'll do something about the septic smell near the bathrooms. It has to be a plumbing problem.

And maybe, with the layout, they won't have as many problems with returned books being picked up and being "lost." This seems to happen a lot there and the staff has told me that it's because of the placement of the return area.

I see all these comments now about concern about increasing the actual shelf space for materials. I have to agree. Please offer more books. And frankly, we don't need a cafe. That's just more reason for chatty cathys to ramble on on their phones...And isn't very supportive of your neighbors, Barry's Bagles, that offers exactly that cafe experience. Please, please reconsider this. Do we need more moms ignoring their kids while they text and the kids scream around the place? Let them go to Barry's. Add actual books.

Sad to see there is no dedicated quiet area. Looks to be another playground like Pittsfield. Enjoyed studying at Pittsfield immensely at times, but had to give up with accepted typical noise and commotion.

I so agree with you. The employees at Pittsfield hate the balls flying up to the ceiling in the center. It is not conductive for study. Libraries are getting to be play areas any more. I worked at Pittsfield so I can agree with everything you said. Mallet Creek has these play times for babies. There is literally NO parking there on Tuesdays or Wednesdays! That parking lot has never been large enough.

I agree that a cafe' isn't needed with Barry's nearby. Unless it brings in needed income please reconsider.

I'm very excited that Westgate gets a makeover! It's a very good location. The option of events there is exciting, too.

Unfortunate priorities. I say, can the cafe, bring in the books. See you at Barry's.

Please consider a way to drop off books more easily and the pick-up boxes. I really appreciate both of these at Mallet's Creek, but I live on the west side now. It is extremely helpful to be able to do this without coming into the library while I have very young kids. I have no use for a cafe but would really like to be able to pick up and drop off more easily when I'm not coming into the library.

I am so excited about the expansion. I have often felt that this branch was treated like a step child - this improvement will really bring the branch into the family.

I am thrilled to hear this! I have very fond memories of attending storytimes with my kids at this branch and this is MY branch, being so close to my home. And I am super happy that the branch will continue to operate at the same location, but with an expanded facility. Best wishes to AADL as they begin construction and get ready to unveil it next summer.

I am absolutely thrilled about this! We live in walking distance of the westgate branch and I cannot wait to walk to story time with my little ones. Hooray!!!!

Wonderful news! Please, a drive-by drop box will be very helpful if you include on the plan as well. Looking forward to see the “new library”! Thanks.

Seems to me many improvements could be made without adding 16,000 sq.ft. Sure update, enlarge, Improve, reconfigure logistics. You know all of this isn't without huge costs and way more rent expenses to the mall owners. Taxes are so high here in Ann Arbor and so poorly spent. Hint: the roads, teacher pay etc. yes a new looking library is grand but some restraint should have been employed.

This is epic news. Westgate is by far my favorite branch - been going there since I was a kid in the '80s. Glad to see it's getting some love.

So grateful that West branch is remaining in Westgate. West Branch has always been blessed with plenty of parking, which is not the case with all of the other satellite libraries. The new plans sounds lovely, though I could handle my library NOT having a cafe. Especially when we're in a shopping mall that has cafes already.

I enjoyed playing the summer game and visiting all of the branches. The West Branch is my beloved home branch, but it was quite clear it was not enjoying the space and resources of other branches. I am so happy to hear this plan. Thank you!

I love the West branch for studying and hope that it maintains that feature. Pittsfield, which is closer to my home, is too "echoey" for working given the hard surfaces, which reflect sound, and the tutoring groups that meet in the common area with tables and chairs outside of the restrooms at the front of the building. Because of the carpeting and the tables tucked among the shelves, Westgate has been ideal and I hope the new branch maintains some of this character. I also agree with many of the other commenters: I love Barry's Bagels for snacks and coffee and would hate it if a library cafe stole their business. Could they stock/run the library cafe? (LOVE the idea of a fireplace!)

Congratulations! I can't wait until the Grand Opening! This has becoming our "home base" library now that we've moved so close to it, and while we don't mind visiting the other branches for story times, it will be great to have some events near by!

Even though the current site is convenient on the west side as far as being close to a lot of other things, it is NOT convenient to use. Often, I just need to quickly drop off a video or book that is coming due. I have to park, often during my lunch hour and with all the restaurants and such in Westgate Plaze, it's not that easy to find a space during lunch time. Or, what some people do, is to illegally park at the curb and dash over to the drop boxes. If I properly understand the plans, there will be more parking in the back. I think that's going to help quite a lot.

But, as others have mentioned, it would be nice to have a drive-up drop box. Many other library systems I've lived by have those and I'm not sure why Ann Arbor doesn't provide those. It's a quick way for those of us to get our materials back to the library, even though I realize it's more work to unload these and pulls the materials back to the library building from the curb.

As for providing more space for books, I also disagree. Videos and music are as much a part of the modern library as books and I wouldn't want them to be pushed aside for more books. In addition, lots more books are offered electronically. While I personally like physical books, many people no longer use them. I don't know that adding physical books is a good idea. Also, I don't do a lot of browsing. To me, everything I need is available via the library system, either through AADL or MelCat - I don't depend on being able to see the book on the shelf, most of the time. The question is this - is a library really about books or is it about promoting reading? It's not the same thing, these days.

It looks like there might be less room for all types of materials (music, videos, and books). Many people check these out from AADL- that's why circulation numbers are so high.

It would be nice if there were a couple 5 minute parking places by the drop boxes, so that people who just need to drop off a material can quickly get in and out. Or, even better, it would be great if these could be driven up to.

Please ban cell phone use at Westgate.
It is a big problem
Please put computers away from west windows so glare does not shine on monitors.

No one has commented on the obvious: there is not enough parking at Westgate to accommodate increased patronage. We already have to drive around and around to find a spot at busy times. What does AADL plan to do about this?

Of course, I'm delighted that West Branch will be able to expand!!! However, I join other commenters in wondering if it would not be possible to keep a portion of it open during the expansion. Certainly a drop box on the curb would be most helpful.
My one complaint about the West Branch has always been that its book collection is absurdly small. I strongly hope that more space is allotted to actual books in the plan. (I must add that I do not like the new Mallett's Creek branch; so much space, so few books! Browsing there for fresh reading material is a waste of time!)

I just looked at the plans... What, no expanded book collection!!?? I might be old fashioned (although I avail myself of e-books as well) but I do think libraries should be primarily for books! And, judging by your circulations figures, and the fact that when I request a not-yet-published book I find myself to be 167th on the wait list, I am hardly alone in this.

Furthermore, there is simply no need for a cafe at West Branch. Why would a library need a cafe anyway?

I'm so excited by it all... one of my favorite places to be and now it will have coffee as well... what more could we ask
for continued excellent service in our library and now expanded excellent service. Thrilled... and glad to see our money
going to such a wonder endeavor.

Expansion is a great idea - but I would like to see more area for books. cd and dvd collections. I could live without a cafe as long as there is a place where one can eat a sandwich.

I would concur with other comments about parking issues. Spaces are at a premium and congestion in the parking area is often fraught with peril. I was in gridlock last week when there was a showdown between a couple of cars trying to snag my soon to be vacated space, from opposite directions.

The ski shop and framer did not have heavy traffic and their absence will not free up more than 1-2 spaces . Couldn't there be some spaces behind the library accessible from the service alley?

Can't tell exactly where the windows (natural light) will be and what will the view? An alley? Any skylights??? Hope this will shake out better than it appears. Otherwise, will just go on picking up holds and returning books.

As Ann Arbor has grown, the Maple/Jackson Road intersection has become increasingly congested and dangerous.
I know budgets are tight but I do not see why this area of Ann Arbor gets a redone/aging infrastructure when the other areas of A2 have lovely new facilities with dedicated parking and convenient book drop off.

Suppose it could be said that I could just take my "business" elsewhere but it would be much further from my home.

One more question: Are any plans being made to include washing up facilities for those who use the current library for personal hygiene? This has been an ongoing issue, I hear and have observed.

However, I am delighted that my library is finally getting some updating even if it will be less convenient than the other libraries in town.

Any update on when this will be finished? I walked by the other day and the inside was still completely gutted!

I had the same question. There doesn't seem to be any update on when this is going to be done. I thought there would be some signs of work, but nothing as yet. Will it be late summer as the post says or will it be much longer?

It is now looking like 10 months. This is a very long time for area residents to go without the services of this branch. It is difficult for me to reach other branches and now it looks like this is going to go on for a very long time. I guess I'll be doing without library services for the foreseeable future.

Hi there, the project is on schedule for a late summer opening! A westgate update will be coming out in early July and we'll announce an opening date once construction has completed and we've started moving in furniture and equipment. Thanks for your patience!

It's early August and I don't see an update. What's the latest on the West Branch reopening?


Thanks to the summer game, I've now visited this branch. Fascinating to see how different each branch is!

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