Menlo Park's main library in the Civic Center should increase by a third to add rooms for studying, tutoring, meetings and perhaps a "maker space," according to the architectural consulting firm Noll & Tam.
Also, more room is needed for children and teen areas, the firm says.
Hired by the city to conduct a "space needs study" of the library, the firm developed three options for a renovated or new library of 44,000 square feet, compared with the current 33,000 square feet.
The options will be discussed at the Menlo Park City Council meeting on March 28, when the council may pick one option to pursue further.
The library was built in 1959 and remodeled in 1990. A "space needs study" has been on the library's to-do list for several years, said Library Director Susan Holmer, but that had to wait until the library completed its strategic planning process.
The library could switch from having public access computer stations to loaning out laptops that can be used anywhere at the library. A cafe could even be considered, Ms. Holmer said, but those are hard to keep operating because they don't usually make money.
One option, a remodel, would involve adding 23,400 square feet to 20,600 square feet of the existing facility. Two wings of the existing library would be removed, and spaces for group meetings, staff, teens and children would be added.
That would cost an estimated $32.3 million. Advantages of this plan, according to the Noll & Tam report, are that it would be the lowest-cost option and would save and reuse some parts of the existing library. This would still keep one of the floors underground and take up more space at the Civic Center site.
Another option is to build a new one-story library. That would eliminate the library's current basement and expand the library's footprint at the Civic Center. It is estimated to cost $41.3 million.
Advantages are that it would provide good daylight and not require people to move up or down floors. Disadvantages are that many trees would likely have to be removed, there would be less outdoor seating, and less growth could occur there in the future.
A third option is to build a new two-story library and eliminate the current basement.
This option – expected to cost $40.3 million – would have the smallest footprint, thereby enabling more outdoor activities.
Where the funding would come from, Ms. Holmer said, is a big question. It could come from some combination of the city's capital improvement program, a bond measure, community fundraising, and the library foundation.
As for the timeline, it's expected to take 18 months from the date of approval to design the library and secure permits, and another 18 months to build the new facility, according to the report.
There is also interest in expanding library facilities and services at the Belle Haven Branch library, Ms. Holmer said. Since that library is located on the property of the Ravenswood City School District, the city doesn't control capital improvements there.
Library staff plan to ask for funding in next year's budget to conduct a "needs assessment" for the Belle Haven branch library, she said.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story inaccurately said that the current square footage of the library was 20,600 square feet, not 33,000 square feet, and that the proposal was to more than double the size of the library. That was due to a misleading table in an online document.
Go to the Noll & Tam report for more information, including diagrams of the options.