The Cedar Roe and Corinth library branches should remain in operation for the next few years as a complete re-assessment of the Johnson County Library system is undertaken and a new alignment of libraries and services is put into practice. “We are at a crossroads,” County Librarian Sean Casserley told the board Thursday.
Casserley said the library system will need to double its size in the next 20 years to meet the expected population growth and to provide the same space as peer libraries. The next step in the facilities master plan is to hire an outside firm for a comprehensive study of land use, design and planning that will determine cost. The library board was not asked to vote on the recommendation yet.
A land use study would expect to take all of 2015, Casserley said, with financing not determined until 2016. An older facilities plan had recommended combining Cedar Roe and Antioch libraries and rebuilding Corinth on site. The “plans proposed in the 2009 Strategic Facilities Master Plan are no longer the appropriate model to provide the best service,” the new report concludes.
The fate of the existing libraries will rest with the land use study. Can the buildings be reused or reconfigured at their current locations is one of the questions to be answered in the study, Casserley said. “It is time to bring in the experts (in land use and building planning).”
The recommendation still follows the previously announced suggestion to have smaller convenience libraries that serve communities as a place to get materials and meet and larger destination libraries that offer high-tech meeting and study spaces. However, the potential locations for those libraries will start from scratch, Casserley said, and not use the circles previously drawn by the internal committees.
The destination libraries would serve a much larger area and be fewer in number, while the convenience libraries would be placed where people live and work and be “on major arterial roadways” the recommendation said. The destination model would “allow for cultural and recreational activities.” A destination library “might feature an auditorium, host high-quality events…,” the report said.
The library system will need more than 505,000 square feet of space, the report suggests. The system currently has 279,000 square feet. The libraries now host more than two million visits per year and circulate six million items.
“Libraries anchor a community and provide information,” Casserley said. “We need spaces for people to create and connect…”