The head of a team of consultants studying the Salt Lake Main Library says he has no preconceived ideas toward possible re-modeling, expansion or replacement of the 33-year-old facility.
Being responsive to community needs and desires is "my speciality," said Ronald A. Dubberly, vice president of Dubberly Associates Inc., an Atlanta firm, on Monday.The firm was recently hired by the Salt Lake Library Board to work with William Bruder, a Phoenix architect, and June Garcia, director of the San Antonio Public Library, on a space needs/facility study of the Salt Lake Main Library at 209 E. 500 South.
Dubberly said he and other consultants are first interested in determining the needs of the community for library service. It is only after those needs are determined that "you start thinking about a building - not before," he said.
The three officials will study service issues at the main library and its five branches, the architectural and mechanical integrity of the main building and what needs to be done so library services can continue. Thousands of people use the library every month. Technology is having a huge impact on the building, library officials say.As an initial step in soliciting public comment, the three-member team, library officials and some board members met in two public meetings Saturday at the library.
The lack of public parking, inadequate space for periodicals and a need for better lightning and air conditioning were among concerns or complaints expressed. People visiting the library must either park at a metered parking stall on the street or find a spot in a parking lot some distance from the library.
Dubberly, who just retired as director of the Atlanta Library and was responsible for the construction or expansion of a main library and several other buildings there, said some services are not arranged as well as they could be to meet the needs of library users.
The size of the floors (the library has a total 115,000 square feet of space on five floors) makes the arrangement awkward for library users. Some subject areas are separated and are on different floors. If the library had more space, many, if not all, of these areas could be together, Dubberly said.
Dubberly, who administered the renovation of Seattle's comparable 1960s main library, said, for example, that he believes the Salt Lake Library might need more space for an in-depth business collection.
He said he feels the 42 who attended the Saturday meetings are satisfied with the services they receive. "But they want more materials, a better arrangement of ma-te-rials and a more comfortable building in terms of air conditioning and lighting," he said.
Based on Salt Lake's population, Dubberly said the Salt Lake Library has very high usage for an urban city. As of last June 30, the library system had 152,760 card holders, said Colleen McLaughlin, community relations manager. She said circulation for the main library and the five branches topped 2.2 million items last year. Approximately 400,000 patrons visit the Main Library every year. The library, which has undergone minor remodeling since being opened in 1964, houses more than 350,000 volumes in open stacks.
Library director Nancy Tessman said Monday the library has $300,000 in capital improvements funds dedicated to the main library in the 1996-1997 budget. But most of that amount is earmarked for planning for any improvements needed in the library.
Also, $500,000 has been aside for overall capital needs in the library system. Part or all of that money could be shifted to a fund once a decision is made on what to do with the main library, she said.
Tessman and others have emphasized that no decisions have been made on any physical improvements at the library. That decision will not be made until later by the library board.
Dubberly said he and other team members will submit their "recommended options" to the board between April 1-15. This phase of the study "does not design or recommend a building but will recommend a path to take for improving service at the main library," Dubberly said.