Clinton Public Library Foundation
On the negative side, the interior of the facility is extremely crowded, has a very small children’s section, has many aisles and area deficient in regard to handicapped accessibility and the library lacks handicapped accessible restroom facilities. The facility is also deficient in terms of wiring and cabling needed to accommodate today’s library technology. Furthermore, staff workspace is extremely limited and the circulation desk is poorly located to prevent theft of materials. Overcrowded shelves and crowded conditions throughout the facility result in decreased staff efficiency since the staff is faced with extra steps and with “shifting” materials nearly every time a book is re-shelved.
Himmel & Wilson Space Analysis
The Clinton Public Library currently occupies a facility of approximately 2,400 square feet close to the central business district in the Village of Clinton. The facility, which was not originally designed as a library, has both positive and negative features. On the plus side, the entry to the facility is at grade. This offers relatively easy access into the building from the adjacent parking area. Parking is conveniently located and is adequate except when large programs are held. This is especially true when an adjacent lot that is often used by library patrons is considered.
Furnishings in the facility exhibit a wide variety of materials and finishes; it is apparent that some of the furnishings have been acquired from a broad array of sources over a considerable period of time. Although some of the shelving could be reused in a new facility, other shelving, computer workstations, tables, and chairs should be replaced.
As noted earlier, access into the facility for persons with disabilities is adequate (although it could be improved with automatic doors); however, the crowding in the interior would make it difficult for a person in a wheelchair to navigate. Furthermore, the interior layout is confusing. Computers are placed where power is available rather than in location that can be easily supervised by library staff. Many materials are located on high shelving that is largely inaccessible. The use of the high shelves also adds to a claustrophobic look and feel. There is virtually no space for quiet study nor does the library contain comfortable seating conducive to leisure reading.
The Clinton Library asked Library Consultants to conduct a space needs analysis to determine how much space will be needed to serve the Clinton area over the period of the next twenty years. One of the challenges facing the consultants was determining the library’s service population. Although the library is funded largely by the Village of Clinton, it also receives considerable funding from Rock County for non-resident use. Furthermore, the Library is used by some individuals who reside in the Southwestern portion of Walworth County and even some people who live in nearby Northern Illinois.
To determine a design population, the consultants mapped library usage patterns of all public libraries in Rock County and identified a primary service area. The area primarily served by the Clinton Public Library contains a population of 4,364 people. Some limited growth is anticipated in this area in coming years; however, the consultants estimate the service population is likely to remain under 5,000 even at the end of the twenty year planning horizon. Consequently, a design population of 5,000 people has been applied. The number of people served is obviously an important consideration in determining the appropriate size of a facility. Another important consideration in determining the appropriate size is the level of quality service to be offered.
A look at programming offered by the other public libraries in Rock County provides a clear indication libraries are increasingly serving as important community gathering spaces. Improvements in the space available for children’s, teen and adult programming is strongly recommended. Additional space for the use of technology is also recommended. This includes both traditional computer workstations and comfortable seating with access to electrical outlets and Wi-Fi to allow for use of personally owned computers, tablets and smart phone devices. The improvements have been included in the calculations for an improved library facility.
It is clear that the existing facility is severely undersized for serving even the primary service area. In fact, the facility is less than half the size it should be to house the existing collection, furnishings and staff spaces even if no services are expanded and improved. The consultants estimate the facility should be 5,413 GSF to properly house the existing collection and services which is a space deficit of 3,013 GSF. The consultants estimate the space deficit will grow to 5,080 GSF if services and facilities are enhanced to provide additional computers and seating areas. This deficit will continue to grow as some collections expand. The consultants believe a library of approximately 11, 239 GSF will be needed to meet the public library service needs to service the design population in the year 2032.
The consultants examined the building to assess its potential for expansion. Neither the basement area nor the second floor space is suitable for use as a library. Floor loading capacity is inadequate to support book stacks. The basement conditions are not conducive to the storage of materials. Furthermore, the use of either or both of these floors would require an elevator and it is likely that additional staff would be required to supervise any new spaces. A tripling or quadrupling of space as an addition to the current facility would also be difficult if not impossible and would require the acquisition of a significant amount of additional space for parking.
Consequently, the consultants believe the construction of a new single story facility of approximately 11,239 GSF is recommended. A building of this size would ideally be located on a site approximately one acre in size. This would allow for the building footprint, adequate parking (45-50 spaces), green space and space for future expansion. Three-quarters of an acre should be the minimum site size for a building this size.