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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Birmingham, and the three contract communities, provide input in how the Baldwin Library can be even better.

SUMMARY OF PUBLIC INPUT

BACKGROUND

As called for in its 2011-2013 Strategic Plan, the Baldwin Public Library has launched a process to determine its future facility requirements.  The Joint library Building Committee, composed of both representatives of the Library Board and the City of Birmingham, has developed objectives to guide this process.  One of the key objectives is “to develop, through public input, a consensus on what kind of library the citizens of Birmingham need, want, and are willing to pay for.” 

This report summarizes the public input obtained through from four sources.   Detailed results from each source are documented in separate reports.
  1. A survey of public opinion that was held May 18,  2012--August 10, 2012
  2. Focus groups held in June 2012
  3. A community forum, open to the public, held June 19, 2012. 
  4. Individual comments submitted to the Library

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Favorite and Least Favorite Aspects of the Library
All sources of input were relatively consistent in identifying the favorite and least favorite aspects of the library as summarized below.
·         Favorite: Grand Hall (“comfortable”, ‘homey’, “high ceilings”), “historic” and “older” nature of building, meeting rooms (Rotary Room, Board Room), Harry Allen Room, smaller scale that contributes to feeling of an “oasis”, quiet areas, does not look like an office building as do more recent libraries, computer lab, exterior landscaping.
·         Least Favorite: Exterior of Birkerts addition is inconsistent with rest of the building, lack of study rooms and small group meeting rooms, unwelcoming main entrance, poor lighting, inadequate way-finding and signage, inadequate handicap accessibility, cramped and “chopped up” nature of interior, small youth and teen areas, design differences within interior, poor lighting, under-utilization of lower level, no drive-up book return, no nearby free parking, and darkness/difficulty in navigating staff entrance.

Building Priorities
There was a difference in building priorities between the two groups—survey participants and focus groups—which addressed building priorities. Among the top five, two results overlapped: “add more technology/computers” and “add more study rooms.”  “Expand teen area and “expand youth area” were also ranked high by both groups.


Survey participants:
1.      Add a café
2.      Add an outdoor study area
3.      Add a new/used bookstore
4.      Add more technology and computers
5.      Add more study rooms

Focus groups
1.      Expand teen area.
2.      Add more study rooms.
3.      Expand youth area
4.      Improve handicap accessibility. 
5.      Add more technology and computers

Renovation vs. Expansion
All sources of input were in favor of making significant building modifications ranging from renovation to expansion, but there was no clear favorite between the two.
·         Survey: 34% were in favor of a comprehensive renovation, 32% in favor of significant expansion, and 33% no response.  66%, therefore, were in favor of making significant building modifications ranging from renovation to expansion.
·         Focus Groups: Community leaders strongly favored renovation versus expansion. Adult patrons were more aggressive in favoring a major expansion.  When a blended solution of renovation and expansion was added as an alternative, the adult patron vote was split between a blended solution and an expansion.
·         Community Forum: Most of the people who answered the question about improvements were in favor of either a significant renovation or expansion, although there was not a clear favorite.

Taxation
This subject was addressed in the focus groups and the community forum.  Increased taxes were not ruled out, but residents wanted to see the plan before deciding.
·         Focus Groups: Community Leaders were undecided whether a new tax or the existing tax authority should be used to fund library building changes. They wanted to see the plan before they expressed an opinion on raising taxes.  Adult patrons indicated they would support higher taxes if value was there.
·         Community Forum: Most of the people responding to the question on taxes indicated the citizens of Birmingham would support an increase in taxes provided they were given a good, high value plan. 



BUILDING SURVEY  (Key data summarized in Attachment I) 
Overview
The Library issued a building survey in May 2012.  By the final deadline of August 10, 2012, 663 surveys had been completed. 

A print copy of the survey was included in the Summer 2012 issue of Baldwin’s newsletter Books &Beyond, which was mailed to all addresses in Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Bloomfield Hills.  Other print copies were available at the Library’s public service desks.  An online version of the survey was featured prominently on Baldwin’s website.  The survey was promoted in the local media, social networking outlets, and at the Birmingham and Beverly Hills parades in May.  In addition, staff actively encouraged Library patrons to fill out the survey.

55% of respondents were from Birmingham, 18% from Beverly Hills, 2% from Bingham Farms, and 5% from Bloomfield Hills.  7% were from outside Baldwin’s service area, and 13% chose not to state their residence at all.

1% of the respondents were children under 12.  Teenagers comprised 3% of the response group.  19-to-30-year olds were also only 3% of the respondents.  Most respondents were in the age ranges of 31-50 (25%), 51-70 (35%), and 70+ (11%).  22% chose not to reveal their ages at all.

39% of the respondents visit Baldwin weekly.  25% visit it monthly.  And 17% visit it several times a week.  53% of the respondents generally limit their visit to under one hour, while 30% stay in the library one to three hours.

Favorite and Least Favorite Aspects of the Library
Respondents listed the following as their favorite aspects of the building:
  1. The Grand Hall
  2. Original exterior/architecture
  3. The Library’s cozy atmosphere, including study spaces
  4. Exterior landscaping
  5. Youth Room
  6. Proximity to downtown

They listed the following as their least favorite aspects of the building
  1. Birkerts addition—both by itself and in juxtaposition with the original building
  2. Youth Room  (It needs more space and a renovation.)
  3. General atmosphere and appearance  (cramped, crowded, drab, poor layout.)
  4. Inadequate handicap accessibility
  5. Entrance
  6. Teen Area  (It needs more space and a renovation.)
Renovation vs. Expansion
34% of respondents stated they favored a building renovation.  32% favored a significant expansion.  33% did not respond to the question.  Therefore, 66% stated explicitly that they were in favor of some kind of building modifications.
Building Priorities
The top five Baldwin building priorities that respondents selected were:
  1. Add a café
  2. Add an outdoor seating area
  3. Add a new/used bookstore
  4. Add more technology and computers
  5. Add more study rooms
                                          
Features Liked in Other Libraries
The top five features that respondents liked in other libraries they had visited were:
  1. Layout  (spaciousness, organization)
  2. Children’s/Youth Rooms  (spaciousness, size, hands-on/interactive learning)
  3. Study rooms and quiet/collaborative spaces
  4. Lighting/daylight
  5. Larger size

FOCUS GROUPS  (Key data summarized in Attachment II)

Overview
There were four focus groups facilitated by the Detroit Executive Service Corps, a non-profit organization that provides consulting services to other non-profits.   They were held in the Rotary Room of the Library.
  • Community Leaders (June 9, 2012). There were 24 participants representing the City of Birmingham, Baldwin’s contract communities, various neighborhood associations, schools, churches, and community organizations. 
  • Adult Library Patrons (June 9, 2012). There were 19 participants drawn from a list of known library users.
  • Library Staff (June 12, 2012).  There were 16 participants representing both full-time and part-time staff.  Library management and Board members were not present.
  • Teens (June 14, 2012). There were 15 participants invited from the Library’s Teen Advisory Council and from local schools.  All were Library users.

The following summarizes the results.  More detailed results for key questions are shown in Attachment II.



Favorite and Least Favorite Aspects of the Library
Favorite: Grand Hall (“comfortable”, ‘homey’, “high ceilings”), “historic” and “older” nature of building, meeting rooms (Rotary Room, Board Room), Harry Allen Room, smaller scale that contributes to feeling of an “oasis”, quiet areas, does not look like an office building as do more recent libraries, computer lab, exterior landscaping.

Least Favorite: Exterior of Birkerts addition is inconsistent with rest of the building, lack of study rooms and small group meeting rooms, unwelcoming main entrance, poor lighting, inadequate way-finding and signage, inadequate handicap accessibility, cramped and “chopped up” nature of interior, small youth, design differences within interior, poor lighting, under-utilization of lower level, no drive-up book return, and no nearby free parking.

In addition, the Staff Focus Group identified the staff entrance as a concern (dark, scary, difficult to navigate).  The Teen Focus Group identified the small and under-equipped teen room as a concern.

Building Priorities
Interior
·         Expand Teen Area. All four focus groups prioritized an expansion of the Teen Area as a high priority need.
·         Add more study rooms. All four focus groups prioritized more study rooms as a high priority need.  The meaning of “study rooms” varied, but included private study, small group meeting rooms (e.g., for “team” projects), and quiet areas enclosed or set off from the rest of the library.
·         Expand Youth Area. Three of the focus groups prioritized enlargement of the Youth Area as a high priority need.  Included in the needs were more space to move around, more usable and flexible shelves, more private staff area to support youth, and a youth only bathroom.
·         Improve Handicap Accessibility.  Three of the focus groups were very concerned about the present state of handicap accessibility.  Problems that needed to be fixed included the protruding jut into the exterior ramp, the ramp incline angle, ice and snow on steps/ramp, poor lighting at entrances, and ease of navigation within the library due to narrow passageways.
·         Technology Improvements.  Two of the groups, Community Leaders and Teens, indicated technology improvements as a high priority need.  This didn’t necessarily mean more computers (except for teens), but better software and more teen and youth specific computers.
·         Other identified needs that weren’t as high priority as those above.
-        Café—the definition varied, but one approach discussed would be an area with vending machines and tables/chairs.
-        Add an outdoor seating area.  This was rated high by teens.
-        Signage and way finding
-        Sound control.  There is not a good separation between noisy areas and quiet areas such as the reference desk area.
-        Lighting and windows.  All groups mentioned inadequate lighting and natural light throughout the library.
-        Esthetics.  The library can be made more welcoming through the use of paint colors, carpeting and lighting.
-        More space for storage of library materials
-        Refigure adult wing to better utilize curved wall of Birkerts addition

Exterior
·         Curbside drop-off and pickup
·         An entrance closer to Chester Street parking garage
·         Improved exterior lighting at entrance

Taxation
·         Community Leaders—52% were Birmingham residents.  There was general consensus that the public would support a renovation of the library, but not a major expansion.  They were undecided whether a new tax or the existing tax authority should be used to pay for it.  They were concerned with how much it would cost.  There was no vote on taxes because they wanted to know the plan first.

·         Adult Patrons--about 90% were Birmingham residents. There was a general consensus that the public would support being taxed for library building improvements, even expansion, if value were there. 

·         Staff and Teens—did not address taxation.

Renovation vs. Expansion
·         Community Leaders. They strongly favored renovation versus expansion. There also was a strong consensus that any near-term building improvements should be part of a long-term master plan.

·         Adult Patrons. Contrary to Community Leaders, adult patrons were more aggressive; there was a general consensus in favor of a major expansion.  When a blended solution of renovation and expansion was added as an alternative, the adult patron vote was split between a blended solution and an expansion.

·         Staff was strongly in favor of expansion; Teens favored a blend of renovation and expansion.



Features Liked in Other Libraries
Libraries with features liked: West Bloomfield, Troy, Southfield, Rochester, Ann Arbor, Clinton Macomb, Canton, Novi, Auburn Hills, Chelsea.  For the most part, these were features that Baldwin lacked or were better that Baldwin’s.
Interior
·         Welcoming environment
·         Colors and art on walls
·         Feeling of openness, lots of natural light
·         User friendly, organized layout
·         Place for refreshments: some staffed, some just vending machines
·         Teen area: large, separate, dedicated computers and closed off with glass walls
·         Children’s program/activity area
·         Study rooms
·         Quiet reading and study areas
·         Receptionist to answer questions
·         Good signage

Exterior
·         Automatic doors
·         Outdoor spaces
·         Curbside drop-off and checkout

The detailed Focus Group Report is available upon request.


COMMUNITY FORUM

Overview
A Community Forum was held June 19, 2012.  It was advertised on the Library website, in the Books and Beyond newsletter, in local newspapers, and with signage inside and outside the library.   Twelve members of the public attended, including residents from Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Beverly Hills. Tera Moon from the League of Women Voters facilitated the Forum. 

The facilitator asked participants to address the following three questions and also to consider a list of potential building modifications similar to the list used in the focus groups and survey

1.      What do you like and/or dislike about the present library building?
2.      What kind of improvements would you like to see?
3.      Should a tax increase be used to fund part or all of the improvements?

Summary
Most of the people who answered the question about improvements (question #2) were in favor of either a significant renovation or expansion, although there was not a clear favorite.  Similarly, most of the people responding to the question on taxes (question #3) indicated that the citizens of Birmingham would support an increase in taxes provided they were given a good, high-value plan. 

Individual Condensed Comments  (All are individual comments.)
·         The Baldwin Library can be a regional magnet and attraction.  Therefore, the Library should add an auditorium, like the one at Southfield, which can be rented; it would be a good business decision.  A bond issue would be supported by the people.
·         The Library needs additional study rooms, additional meeting rooms, a café, an outside eating area, and an enlarged teen area.  We should focus on the better utilization of the existing building to meet patron needs.  Availability of money depends upon the mood of the public; we can’t be sure that the community would support a bond issue.
·         Seniors are on fixed income and do not want to see a tax increase.
·         The renovation plan should be attempted first, instead of an expansion.  Would be in favor of a modest tax increase.
·         Talk about a bond issue for parks sounded crazy when it was first introduced, yet the bond issue ended up getting approved. If you put together a good proposal, you can get support.
·         The older building is lovely, but things need to be spruced up.
·         Would be nice to have an elevator directly into the building from the outside for seniors.
·         Automatic doors at front entrance would be a great improvement.
·         Would like more space for people who simply want to sit and read books, not use technology.
·         Do not agree with a café because it would put the Library in competition with small businesses; a snack room is another matter. 
·         The City issues too many parking tickets for patrons.  The parking garages aren’t safe, especially for senior accessibility.


INDIVIDUAL COMMENTS SUBMITTED TO THE LIBRARY

Overview

Six people submitted unsolicited comments to either individual Board members or to the Library Director.  These are summarized below.



Condensed Comments:

One local resident opposed building expansion and the accumulation of any building debt.  Somewhat similarly, another local resident opposed expansion, but was open to limited renovation.  Another person from the area addressed the issue of handicap accessibility, stating that with his poor health, he finds it difficult to climb the Library’s ramp and stairs.  He went on to recommend a ground-level elevator.

A local architect made a number of suggestions, including the following:

·         Add an entrance on Martin. 
·         Simplify the building’s functional plan.
·         “Gathering” activities should be on the main-street level, closer to the entrance(s); collections can be in the outer edges of the building, the basement and the second floor.
·         Consider sustainable solutions when planning a renovation or expansion.
·         Look for ways to make the building’s mechanical and electrical systems more energy-efficient.

One individual tackled improving building functionality and aesthetics:

·         The Birkerts addition acts as a fortress against the community outside.  We should replace its walls with glass and install a clerestory.  Add glass in an energy-efficient manner.
·         Add natural light to the recent basement renovations, which are nice.
·         Add both study rooms and casual lounge space. 
·         Improve the bathrooms.
·         Shelter the bike racks.
·         Add outside seating.
·         Make the contemporary portion of the building honor the older part in materials and design. 
·         Open up site lines to surrounding views of Shain Park, City Hall, etc.
·         Add more 5-10 minute drop-off spots.
Finally, a representative of The Community House, across the street from the Library, expressed the need for the two institutions to make sure that resources, such as meeting rooms, are not unnecessarily duplicated in the City of Birmingham.  In particular, The Community House hoped that Baldwin would not choose to expand its meeting rental facilities or enter into the food catering business.


Attachment I
Building Survey Key Response Data

Response Demographics

You live or work in:

Number of Responses
Response Ratio
City of Birmingham
366
55.2%
Village of Beverly Hills
120
18.0%
Village of Bingham Farms
13
1.9%
City of Bloomfield Hills
32
4.8%
Other (includes Bloomfield Township)
46
6.9%
No Response
86
12.9%

Your age:

Number of Responses
Response Ratio
Under 12
5
<1%
12 - 18
21
3.1%
19 - 30
19
2.8%
31 - 50
166
25.0%
51 - 70
233
35.1%
70+
76
11.4%
No Response
143
21.5%

How often do you visit the library building?

Number of Responses
Response Ratio
Several times a week
113
17.0%
Weekly
258
38.9%
Monthly
167
25.1%
Yearly
31
4.6%
Never
9
1.3%
No Response
85
12.8%

What is the average length of your visit?

Number of Responses
Response Ratio
Less than 1 hour
354
53.3%
1 to 3 hours
200
30.1%
More than 3 hours
18
2.7%
No Response
91
13.7%


Attachment I                           Building Survey Key Response Data
Favorite and Least Favorite Aspects of the Library

Favorite Aspects of the Library Building
Tally
Grand Hall
139
Collections
128
Original exterior/architecture
128
Atmosphere/Cozy
101
Staff
74
Study Space/Quiet
63
Layout
58
Youth Services/Room
56
Seating
50
Proximity/Downtown Location
46
Computers/Wifi/Technology
42
Meeting Rooms/Lower Level/Computer Lab
42
Programs/Events
32

Least Favorite Aspects of the Library Building
Tally
Birkerts/modern addition
65
Parking
62
Youth Room
47
Atmosphere/appearance
46
Entrance/lobby
38
Computers, computer space, computer help (lack of)
36
Cramped/crowded
35
Layout/flow/navigation
35
New vs. original architecture
31
HVAC (too cold/hot)
30
Study/collaborative rooms/space (lack of)
26
Lighting/lack of natural light
24
Restrooms
24
Teen Area
23
Small/limited by size
22
Drive up return (lack of)
21
Noise/too loud
20
Collection deficiencies/wait time for holds
19
Handicap accessibility
19
Shelving (AV)
17
Seating (lack of/uncomfortable)
15
Circulation Area
13
Return slot/location (ineffective/inconvenient)
12
Adult Reference Desk
11
Attachment I                           Building Survey Key Response Data


Building Interior
Tally
Generally good (vague)
81
Youth Room (crowded/needs update)
66
Grand Hall (positive)
51
Teen area needs more space/update
43
Good layout/usability/functionality
34
Needs an update/Looks dated
28
Bad/awkward/inaccessible layout
23
Worn/tattered/drab
20



Building Exterior
Tally
Generally fine/nice/okay (vague)
158
Birkerts/modern addition (negative)
76
Landscaping (positive)
58
New vs. original architecture (negative)
58
Original architecture (positive)
53
Entrance (negative)
47
Handicap accessibility (negative) - ramp specifically
42
Handicap accessibility (negative)
26
Parking (negative)
25
Return slot (negative)
20



Which of the Building Alternatives Do You Support?

Which of the following do you support?  Please select one.

Number of Response(s)
Response Ratio
Comprehensive renovation (Reconfigured interior, new furnishings, improved lighting, etc.)
228
34%
Significant expansion (Additional space and features, revision of exterior architecture, etc.)
215
32%
No Response
220
33%






Attachment I                           Building Survey Key Response Data


Top Building Priorities

What are your top building priorities?   Please select up to four.


Number of Response(s)
Response Ratio

Ranking
Add a café
217
14%
1
Add an outdoor seating area
184
12%
2
Add a new/used bookstore
182
12%
3
Add more technology and computers
166
11%
4
Add more study rooms
154
10%
5
Enlarge Children's/Youth Area
136
9%
6
Enlarge Adult Area
122
8%
7
Enlarge Teen Area
115
7%
8
Improve handicap accessibility
86
6%
9
Other (please list in the comment box):
79
5%
10
Add an auditorium
58
4%
11
None of the above
41
3%






Attachment I                           Building Survey Key Response Data


What Features Do You Like in Other Libraries?

What features do you like about other libraries you have visited? 
Features
Tally
Description
Layout
66
Spacious, less jammed together, uncluttered, good flow, organized
Children/Youth Area
50
Large play areas, hands-on/interactive learning, “place of dreams”
Collections
47
Larger, more diverse collections (mostly function of size of facility & service population)
Study rooms & quiet/collaborative space
38
More study rooms, quiet areas, small group meeting & collaboration rooms
Lighting/daylight
35
Better interior lighting and more natural light through more use of windows
Size
33
Square footage
Parking (free)
32
Free parking within a short walk (most libraries have adjacent free parking lots)
Computers/Technology
28
More computers, software and peripherals such as scanners; computer rooms/pods
Drive up book drop-off/service
26
Drive up book drop-off; a few sites had staffed service desk for pickup, fines, etc
Café
20
Some full-service/staffed; others vending machines; all were enclosed quiet areas
Seating/tables/furnishings
19
More open reader seats and tables, nicer lounge areas, newer furniture
Modern/new
19
Recently built or renovated
Bookstore
18
Sale of used/new books and gifts by Friends; some not open all the time
Entrance--outside /inside
15
Outside accessible at street level; inside open and welcoming
Patio/outdoor seating
14
Patio or outside seating accessible through library; all were in garden area
Teen Area
13
Dedicated room for teens with teen materials, computers, décor, furnishings
Atmosphere/Ambiance
12
 Homey, warm, inviting, quiet, peaceful, feeling of community center
Décor/art/color
10
Beautiful interior design, lots of art, creative use of colors
Programs/Events
10
More/better/innovative lectures, presentations, musical events







Attachment II
Baldwin Public Library Focus Group Survey Results
Participants Were Asked to Rank Their Top Building Needs
Community Leaders
Feature
Ranked
as #1
Ranked
as #2
Ranked
as #3
Ranked
as #4
Total
Responses
Ranking
Add an outdoor seating area

1

2
3

Add more study rooms
7
6
4
4
21
1
Add an auditorium






Add a café


3
4
7

Add a new/used bookstore






Enlarge Adult area

1
1
1
3

Enlarge Teen area
1
4
4
5
14
3
Enlarge Children’s / Youth area
6
4
4

14
2
Increase technology/technology access such as more computers
2
1
3
2
8
5
Improve handicap accessibility
3
5
4
1
13
4
None of the above
1



1

Other – Redesign the façade of the south entrance to blend with original north façade



4
4

Other – Reconfigure existing library to achieve the next three items on my list
1



1

Other – Doing more with less.  Thinking outside the box



1
1

Other – Welcoming, comfortable destination for all ages
2



2

Other – Improve Grand Hall lighting



1
1

Other – Research support



1
1


Adult Patrons
Feature
Ranked
as #1
Ranked
as #2
Ranked
as #3
Ranked
as #4
Total
Responses
Ranking
Add an outdoor seating area
1
1
1

3

Add more study rooms
1
6
4
3
14
1
Add an auditorium






Add a café
2
2

4
8
3
Add a new/used bookstore

1
2
2
5

Enlarge Adult area
2

3

5

Enlarge Teen area
3
1
1
2
7
4
Enlarge Children’s / Youth area
1
1
1

3

Increase technology/technology access such as more computers

1

1

2

Improve handicapped accessibility
5
1
2
1
9
2
None of the above






Other – Interior signage
1



1

Other – Repurpose the Boardroom

1


1

Other – Street parking


1

1

Other – More “green” features



1
1

Other – Curbside drop-off

1
2

3

Other – Entry lighting



1
1

Other – Architectural beauty
1



1

Other – Friendly displays

1


1

Other – Increase shelf space for books

1


1

Attachment II
Baldwin Public Library Focus Group Survey Results
Participants Were Asked to Rank Their Top Building Needs

Library Staff

Feature
Ranked
as #1
Ranked
as #2
Ranked
as #3
Ranked
as #4
Total
Responses
Ranking
Add an outdoor seating area






Add more study rooms
7
5
2
1
15
1
Add an auditorium






Add a café



1
1

Add a new/used bookstore






Enlarge Adult area

1
1
2
4

Enlarge Teen area
1
4
5
2
12
3
Enlarge Children’s / Youth area
3
3
3
4
13
2
Increase technology/technology access such as more computers
1

1


2

Improve handicap accessibility
3
3
4
1
11
4
Add more staff office/storage space



1
1

None of the above






Other - Add afternoon part-time maintenance personnel



1
1

Other – Improve the entrance – Exterior/Interior
1



1

Other – Utilize space in circulation lobby more efficiently by grouping self-check machines



1

1



Teens

Feature
Ranked
as #1
Ranked
as #2
Ranked
as #3
Ranked
as #4
Total
Responses
Ranking
Add an outdoor seating area
1
3
2
2
8
4
Add more study rooms

4
2
3
9
3
Add an auditorium


1

1

Add a café


2
2
4

Add a new/used bookstore

1

1
2

Enlarge Adult area






Enlarge Teen area
12

1

13
1
Enlarge Children’s / Youth area

1


1

Increase technology/technology access such as more computers

3
5
2
10

2
Improve handicap accessibility






None of the above






Other – Natural light, greenery

1


1

Other – Lighting

1


1

Other – Drive thru book drop off, pick up

1


1




Summary of Benchmarking Results



OVERVIEW

As called for in its 2011-2013 Strategic Plan, Baldwin Public Library has launched a process to determine its future facility requirements.  The Joint library Building Committee, composed of both representatives of the Library Board and the City of Birmingham, developed objectives to guide this process.  One of the objectives is “To determine, through benchmarking and other studies, where Baldwin currently stands in relationship to public library best practices, and to undertake an analysis of probable future library trends and how they will affect library building utilization and configuration.”

This document summarizes the conclusions of a benchmarking process initiated in June 2012 that focused on library building and layout. Benchmarked libraries consisted mainly of “excellent” and cutting-edge libraries in Michigan, surrounding states, and in states where JLBC member visited for personal reasons.  Six public libraries in Michigan were chosen for on-site visits by the benchmarking team: Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Howell Carnegie, Novi, Southfield and West Bloomfield.  In addition, a member of the benchmarking team visited the Santa Monica, California public library while traveling. (Santa Monica was selected because it has a reputation as one of the best small city libraries in Southern California.)  Statistical information was obtained for other libraries through phone, website, and e-mail.  For all libraries, a standardized form was used to record library data.

The benchmarking team consisted of Baldwin staff members: Doug Koschik and Matt Church; Baldwin Library Board members: Sheila Brice, David Underdown, Frank Pisano, and Jim Suhay and Birmingham Planning Board member Janelle Boyce.

The detailed Benchmarking Report is available upon request.

BENCHMARKING FINDINGS

In library visits to seven libraries lasting 2-3 hours each, the benchmarking team relied upon statistical data, on-site observations, and dialogue with the visited library staff.  

Baldwin had numerous advantages, largely subjective, compared with the visited libraries, such as ambiance (especially of Grand Hall), location in downtown area, and adjacent to the city park.   The following findings are based more on empirical comparisons, which tend to highlight Baldwin’s disadvantages.





Major Features

Features
Baldwin
Visited Libraries
ADA-compliant
no
 7 yes
Staffed welcome desk
no
5 yes
Auditorium
no
 2 yes
Café (staffed or vending)
no
 6 yes
Patio with tables & chairs
no
 5 yes
Bookstore
no
 6 yes
Enclosed quiet study/capacity
yes/5
4 yes/16
Computer lab
yes
7 yes
Drive-up book drop
no
 5 yes
Wi Fi
yes
 7 yes
After hours pickup boxes
no
 2 yes
Nearby free parking
no
 5 yes
Children’s' activity room
no
 6 yes
History room
yes
 6 yes

Note: any feature that is bolded and italicized is one where Baldwin falls short.

Empirical Comparisons

Empirical Comparisons
Baldwin
Visited Libraries
Sq ft/capita
        1.1
1.3
Study rooms/10,000 population
        0.8
1.8
Study room cap/10,000 pop.
        2.0
8.4
Meeting rooms/10,000 population
        0.8
0.6
Meeting room cap/10,000 population
       56.6
58.2
FTE/10000 sq. ft. (Incl Branches)
        9.6
7.8
Annual Exp/sq. ft. (Incl Branches)
       74.7
64
Public computers/10,000 pop.
      11.3
16.3
Gatecount/capita
        9.1
8.5
Circulation/capita
18.9
16.2
Collection/capita
5.1
4.4
Program attendance/10,000 pop.
   7,189.5        
4,994.4

Note: any feature that is bolded and italicized is one where Baldwin falls short.







Rating by Operating Area

Rating By Area
Baldwin
BTPL
Ferndale
Howell
Carnegie
Novi
South-
field
W. Bloom-
field
Santa
Monica
Adult
Avg
> Avg
Avg
Avg
> Avg
> Avg
> Avg
> Avg
Teen
< Avg
> Avg
< Avg
< Avg
> Avg
> Avg
> Avg
> Avg
Youth
< Avg
> Avg +
Avg
Avg
> Avg
> Avg +
> Avg +
> Avg
Staff
< Avg
> Avg
Avg
Avg
> Avg
> Avg +
> Avg
> Avg
Study Rooms/
Quiet Areas
< Avg
> Avg +
Avg
Avg
> Avg
> Avg
> Avg
> Avg
Note: any feature that is bolded and italicized is one where Baldwin falls short.
Avg = Average      <Avg = Below Average      >Avg = Above Average      >Avg+ = Far Above Average

SUMMARY

The Baldwin Public Library’s physical building has a number of advantages compared with the seven other visited libraries, such as:

·         Ambiance and warmth, especially in the Grand Hall
·         “Cozy” atmosphere
·         Renovated meeting rooms in lower level
·         Historical nature
·         Location in a downtown area
·         Adjacency to the city park  

Baldwin, however, falls short in the following areas:

·         Not ADA-compliant internally
·         Difficult access from the outside for people with disabilities and people with strollers
·         Lack of study rooms, study room capacity, and quiet areas used for study
·         Size, layout and furnishings of teen area
·         Size, layout and furnishings of children’s/youth area
·         No children’s activity room
·         Cramped staff office and storage areas
·         Insufficient lighting/lack of natural light
·         Poor layout/difficult navigation/lack of “way finding” aids
·         Crowded appearance, lack of spaciousness
·         Uninviting entrance
·         No welcome desk
·         No café
·         No bookstore
·         No patio
·         No drive-up materials drop  (difficult to achieve in a downtown environment)
·         No nearby free parking (difficult to achieve in a downtown environment)

Summary of Study on Library Space Requirements Over Next 25 Years
Prepared by Brett Hamilton
MSI, School of Information, University of Michigan
Librarian, ITT Technical Institute, Southfield

Usages for which Baldwin can most straightforwardly anticipate space needed are also those for which it can effectively rely on feedback from its community.   Baldwin's greatest structural asset, the Grand Hall, is currently an ideal shared space facilitating individual activity as it promotes a quiet, respectful atmosphere.  Patrons and community leaders laud its sense of open space, and the "homey" feel the decor and furnishings inspire.  The primary directive for any designer of new or rennovated space will be to instil it as much as possible with the positive qualities of openness and venerability associated with the Hall. 

Clearly marked as a top priority in both Baldwin's Library Building Survey and focus groups, semi-private spaces for undirected group activity, termed "study rooms" in Baldwin's research, may be addressed in part by repurposing existing spaces.  While Baldwin's the two study rooms located within the Birkerts additions are inadequate and will likely be repurposed or eliminated in the future, the Harry Allen and Gryphon reading rooms may well be reconfigured and better promoted as group activity destinations.  Local facilities such as West Bloomfield Township and Ann Arbor's Mallet's Creek and Pittsfield branches suggest that spaces which seat four to six people, and are semi-private in that transparent walls provide sound shielding while allowing staff to monitor activity from thoughout the library, are effective.  As space required for computer stations and collections is expected to remain static or decrease over time, Baldwin should be able to accomodate marked demand for increased undirected group activity spaces without a drastic building expansion.  In order to further address limited space avialability, Baldwin should explore ways the spaces on the basement level can be made accessible to the public while programming is not in session.  The teen area, currently deemed "cramped" and used as a de facto study room by some tutors, may especially benefit from an increased allotment of space for undirected group activities.  In the future, Baldwin must provide more undirected group activity space, otherwise called“study rooms” or “collaboration spaces” equipped with appropriate technology.

Anticipating needs for future computing space is a more complex issue, dependent upon rapid developments in computing technologies, but market trends suggest that the decreases in public computer accesses at Baldwin over the past two years reflect a growing cultural trend.  In 2011, Smartphones outsold PCs for the first time, while the PC market saw sales for mobile Tablet PCs such as the iPad skyrocket.  This indicates a clear cultural trend in Americans using mobile platforms for activities previously associated with desktop computers, such as web browsing and consuming text and audiovisual media.  As its communities turn more and more to platforms such as their Smartphones, Tablets, and multifunctional E-Readers like the Kindle Fire, nearly all of the library will come to function as "space for computing."  For the resources Baldwin does continue to allot for dedicated public computing stations, it will want to be sure to focus on functions mobile platforms may not facilitate, including printing, keyboarding, and memory intensive software such as design programs and graphics-intensive games.  Large, table- sized Tablet PCs designed to facilitate multiple users at once are just now entering the market, and while it remains to be seen if or when they will engender widespread demand, Baldwin should continue to be cognizant of developing computing platforms. 

Related to the same technological developments affecting space needed for computing is the space Baldwin will need to allot for print and audiovisual collections.  E-Readers such as the Kindle Fire are quickly coming to offer functions such as web browsing and apps, while E-Ink technology facilitating screenreading, previously unique to E-Readers,  is finding its way onto Tablets and Smartphones.  As Americans adopt and spend increasing amounts of time on these devices, E-Book demand should continue to increase.  Further increasing demand, an evolving publishing market has developed where non-traditional publishing giants such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble are anticipated to make E-books as cheap and accessible as possible, seeing them not primarily as profit drivers, but as assets ensuring demand for their own E-Reader platform and its associated marketplace.  While increased demand for E-Books will necessarily decrease demand for print materials, market studies indicate demand for print materials is not decreasing at the same rate as demand for E-Books is increasing, with different print formats and genres experiencing markedly varying impacts.  Baldwin will need to monitor its own circulation statistics in addition to market trends while anticipating decreases in demand for its print collections.  Overall, less space will be needed for print collections in the library of the future.

Demand for DVDs is also anticipated to decrease as Americans turn more and more to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and even Youtube for their audiovisual needs.   Demand for High Definition Blu-Ray discs are expected to enjoy a longer life cycle than standard DVDs, as some households may not have access to or be able to afford bandwidths facilitating the streaming of High Definition or 3D content.  In allocating space for video material, Baldwin will want to concentrate on titles that popular streaming services can not or do not offer.  Overall, much less space will be needed for audiovisual collections in the library of the future.
As technologies and markets evolve, the role of the public library will undoubtedly shift from lending products towards facilitating experiencesTo adjust, Baldwin will need to consider types of activity not currently facilitated by its space, including activities not traditionally associated with public libraries.  Especially regarding its spaces for programming, Baldwin may be well served to think "outside the box" regading unique experiences it may offer both existing patrons and members of the community who do not currently use the library. 

Finally, the one certain thing about the public library of the future is the uncertainty.  While we can safely say that less space will be needed for collections and more will be needed for activities—both directed and undirected—and while we can be sure that technology will play an increasing role in library activities—though not in the form of long banks of desktop computers—we cannot know for sure exactly what shape public library service will take ten or 20 years from now.  Therefore, it is advisable to create spaces that are as flexible as possible, so that they will be able to accommodate whatever the future brings.

The detailed Study on Library Space Requirements Over Next 25 Years is available upon request.


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