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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Baldwin Library Board Building Committee To Meet Monday Feb 13th. Expected To Discuss Draft of Charge For Proposed City/Library Modernization Sub Commitee.

  Notice of Meetings
A meeting of the Baldwin Public Library Board Building Committee will take place on Monday, February 13, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the Library.
A meeting of the Baldwin Public Library Board Finance Committee will take place on Monday, February 13, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the Library. 
A meeting of the Baldwin Public Library Board will take place on Monday, February 20, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Tribute and Donor Rooms of the Library. 

Discussions for an expanded Baldwin Library, the first remodel considered in 32 years continue to move forward.
 Currently Library Director Doug Koschik, and Birmingham City Manager Robert J. Bruner Jr. are working on a Draft of Charge. 
The draft is to be ready for the Library Building Committee meeting of February 13t.h meeting
 It will tell a special committee of selected Library Board members and City Commissioners how to proceed and what the overall goal of the  committee  be should be.
Koschik said that one of the charges of the special committee will be to determine, through benchmarking and public comment, what the Library really needs in terms of space and functionality.
Then based on the findings about the Library’s needs, the committee will then decide which of the following is needed: a renovation or an expansion.
Koschik said, “Only if an expansion is recommended will the issue of design need to be addressed.
The Director added “All plans will have to be tempered by financial reality. Money for any renovation or expansion would have to be covered by some combination of a higher millage rate, a bond issue and private contributions.”
He stressed, “We are at the start of the process. No decisions about the building have been made yet, other than we need to look at the issue.
There will be plenty of opportunities for the public to express their opinions.
The process will take a long time. Within a year I hope that we will decide which path to take. But to make the ultimate plan a reality will take several years beyond that.”
Revamping the library was a  topic of informal and internal discussion for over decade by the library staff A serious proposal offering two possible modernization solutions was  presented to the library board in December of 2011.
 The first solution, called the Fanning Howey proposal after the firm that designed it was an internal only remodel of the library’s first floor first floor.
  At 2.8 million dollars the proposal was intended to be the fiscally prudent solution.
It would trade shelf space for functionality, aesthetics, way finding, and the opportunity for modest expansion of computer stations and study rooms.
 It would also maintain the 1980’s external design of internationally acclaimed noted architect Gunnar Birkerts.
According Library Director Koschik E-books are decreasing the need for shelf space and the library of the 21st century is assuming more of a community center role.
The second solution, proposed by local Birmingham architect Victor Saroki  is complete remodel of all three of the library’s floors and the building’s exterior.
The Basement would be enhanced to include a Friend of the Library Gift Shop, Café, and possible outdoor seating which could extend the cyber café concept.
The first floor would have two entrances one on Martin Street and the other on Merill.
The second floor would be expanded to include a roof garden and terrace overlooking Shain Park for Library or Civic functions. In total the Saroki plan would increase the library’s total space by 42% at an estimated cost of upwards of ten million dollars.
Both options were presented to the Long Range Planning Session of the Birmingham City Commission.
Many commissioners found the Saroki plan of particular interest.
That plan has its detractors and supporters.
Russ W. Dixon a member of the City’s Museum Board is a strong supporter of keeping the exterior design of internationally acclaimed architect Gunnar Birkerts which was the basis of the last remodel.  Other residents find the Birkerts design controversial.
Jeffery Van Dorn president of a Birmingham homeowner’s association, is a supporter of the Saroki design and believes that any enhancement to the popular library will increase property values for the city’s residents. Mr. Van Dorn was instrumental getting architect Victor Saroki to make a presentation.

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