Library designers hold virtual presentation

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2020

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Designers of the new downtown library held a second virtual community meeting to get public input on what citizens want in a facility.

The July 28 meeting was the second held by Richmond-based Quinn Evans Architects, who will be designing the new library. The first meeting was held three weeks earlier, and both meeting videos are archived on the library’s website.

The city last December selected the company to design the new $21.1 million downtown library to replace the 14,500-square-foot Morgan Memorial Library.

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The presentation for the community meeting was similar to one company officials gave to City Council in early July.

Jeff Hoover, a principal with Quinn Evans, gave the bulk of the presentation, asking people to answer questions during the presentation on their preferences on various aspects of the library.

People surveyed during the virtual meeting had similar takeaways from a previous survey the firm has done that praised existing library services while recognizing the shortcomings of the current facility.

The design phase of the library is scheduled for September through next August, with bidding on the project coming in fall 2021 and construction between December 2021 and February 2023.

If the timelines go according to the current project schedule, the new library could open by late spring 2023.

Hoover said the firm is currently writing up the library building program, a document that will describe in words and numbers what the future downtown library should be like.

“We have a good start in writing this up, but it really won’t be completed until we garner more input from you all,” Hoover said.

Among initial takeaways from a community survey were that while 51% of people indicated they go at least once per month to the downtown library, more than half of people surveyed said they spend less than 30 minutes there, and while 72% said it is most convenient to them, 58% go to other libraries, such as the one in North Suffolk.

Residents also said the current downtown library is not very inviting and there is not an area large enough for community events. The inside of it is also too dark, lacks seating and space and is too noisy. They have also indicated, according to Hoover, a wish to have more modern technology, new and popular materials, digital displays as well as mobile and portable technologies.

It has details about the goals and functions of the new library, but Hoover said it wanted input on what goals and outcomes residents want most.

“As you can see, this is only the beginning of this journey that we have started on together,” said Quinn Evans senior associate Andrea Quilici.

The firm plans to hold additional community meetings about the new library’s preliminary conceptual design in early fall, and another on design development in early winter. No dates have yet been set.