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Menlo Park library should grow, consultants say

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.

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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.

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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.

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Menlo Park library should grow, consultants say

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Mar 21, 2017, 6:51 pm

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.

Comments

Belle Haven needs library
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:15 pm
Belle Haven needs library, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:15 pm

It is ducking the point for the city to claim that it can't upgrade the Belle Haven Library because it is on the property of Ravenswood School district. THAT is part of the problem. BECAUSE it is on the school site, it does not serve the rapidly growing community well. The space allotted is too limited, and the hours it is open also are too limited.

The CITY needs to find a suitable location for a proper branch library that serves well the growth in Belle Haven that the City has approved. In the ConnectMenlo process, we were told that the city would make plans for community services like the library. There is no plan.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:20 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:20 pm

" In the ConnectMenlo process, we were told that the city would make plans for community services like the library."


That was all a grand lie.

A responsible city would have required the massive development that it approved in the M2 to include significant Public Facility (PF) sites to allow for essential services like a library and a new fire station.


MP Resident
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:30 am
MP Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:30 am

How about we walk before we run?

The current library only has evening hours (usable for, say, parents taking kids after work) three days a week. The currently library doesn't open before noon on Tuesday and Sunday. How about we get funding to the point where we can run a meaningfully staffed current library 10AM-9PM 7 days a week?

Once we're running 10AM-9PM, how about seeing what we can do better with the current space and some simple modifications? Look for underutilized sections, and shrink them to expand kids / teens. Use something simple (think cubicles) to create study and small group areas. If you want to try laptops instead of desktops, try them - but given who uses library computers for internet, desktops are likely a better choice anyway (less theft, wear and tear, etc).


Belle Haven needs library
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:31 am
Belle Haven needs library, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:31 am

@ MP resident "Once we're running 10AM-9PM, how about seeing what we can do better with the current space and some simple modifications?"

So why ask Belle Haven to limp forward at the same time a huge new library is being discussed for the other side of Menlo Park?

We need a library available to our community. Being in the school means it isn't available to everyone during school hours.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 24, 2017 at 7:13 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2017 at 7:13 am

"So why ask Belle Haven to limp forward at the same time a huge new library is being discussed for the other side of Menlo Park? "

For exactly the same reason that the City failed to provide NEW PF zoned sites when it approved the massive new M2 development - there is no east side representation on the council and libraries and fire stations provide no REVENUE for the city so those east side services are ignored.

Now the ongoing M2 projects already approved will soon overwhelm the capacity of the existing east side library and Fire Station 77 and the City does nothing.


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