Friday, May 8, 2009

MLA: Building a Great Library

Two morning programs on library construction were filled with the wisdom of the experienced and advice from professionals. "MBLC Grant Process and the Building Program" featured Patience Jackson and Rosemary Waltos of the MA Board of Library Commissioners overviewing our state's "very well run library construction grant program", a compliment given by Richard Marks, President of project management firm Daedalus Projects. In MA, libraries must meet well laid-out milestones to receive grant money and that makes our library construction grant program predictable and achievable locally---thank you MBLC! Patience and Rosemary spoke of the Planning and Design Grants that help the smallest communities move toward new libraries, and the new "green incentive program" to help communities build energy efficient buildings. Building Consultant Marjorie Judd described how she gathers data in order to write building programs for communities, and Aaron Cohen spoke of the visual scan that guides his work producing a library facility plan. He recommended that you put the largest pots of money into aspects of the new library that your community will see and use in order to earn their support. Two owner project management firms, Daedalus Projects and Scanska USA, cautioned that hiring a project manager should come at the beginning of your project so that their expertise can help you define a budget that will work throughout your building program.

"Library Construction: Notes from the Field" featured two library directors who have built new facilities and two architects who design community libraries. Carol Mahoney, Director of the Greenwich (CT) Public Library, won my heart when she emphasized planning a delivery area that is sized and located for the safety and convenience of those staff members who prepare and receive deliveries, and in consideration of the delivery drivers who move all the bins of materials into and out of our libraries every day. The slide show that Leslie Morrissey of the Falmouth Public Library shared emphasized how an historic building can be beautifully renovated and added to, more than once! Charlie Van Voorhis is an architect specializing in renovating historic buildings. He admitted that it can take more energy and creativity keeping the old parts in a renovation project but such renovations can be competitive financially with building brand-new, and are very helpful in maintaining a community's spirit. Stewart Roberts of the firm Johnson Stewart Roberts Associates listed the pros and cons of new construction versus renovation of historic spaces. He proved his love for older libraries by giving us his company web address where you will find "Library Postcards Online". It's organized by state so look for your library there!

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