The Dayton Metro Library is implementing a comprehensive plan to update its library buildings. This plan will transition the library systems facilities from the "books and bricks" libraries of the first half of the 20th century to modern community centers designed to provide traditional library services as well as the latest technology. Consolidating branches from 20 to 16 and establishing an offsite outreach and operations center will maximize patron space and allow the average branch to be nearly twice the size of current facilities. With larger modern branches, the library will provide superior services that cannot be offered from its many small buildings. Incorporating green technologies will allow library services to be delivered in a more cost effective manner. This plan also calls for the library to become a catalyst for further development within the Greater Downtown Plan by the renovation and expansion of the existing main library, creating a new facility that reflects the aspirations of Dayton and Montgomery County.
A Facilities Plan Rooted in a Strategic Plan for Results
In 2007 the library began a long range planning process by listening to library users and potential users to determine how well services met their needs. That process included user surveys and dozens of meetings attended by more than 450 residents, community leaders, and library partners – each giving their perspective on what libraries can and should be. Residents want the Dayton Metro Library to continue its traditional core services of providing books, movies, music, and research. However, they also want the library to increase access to technology, to expand educational activities for all ages, and to strengthen its role as a community center. In other words, residents want a library that has books but also is a space where neighbors can gather to learn and share – a place where an individual can read, reflect and interact with the world around them.
The resulting facilities plan calls for major updates to meet the needs of our community today and for decades in the future. The plan takes into account the growth of e-books and other e-media, calling for less space for some materials but enhancing the ease by which readers can access traditional materials. The plan's hallmark is a call for more space for people: quiet reading, study space, technology access and community activities.
Specific Recommendations of the Plan
Three new urban branches will replace existing branches that serve the areas of northwest Dayton and parts of Harrison Township, west Dayton, and southeast Dayton. A new building will also be constructed to serve residents of Riverside and east Dayton north of Route 35. The historic branch in Old North Dayton will be renovated.
In addition, the plan calls for new construction in Brookville, Huber Heights, Miamisburg, New Lebanon, Northmont, Trotwood, and Vandalia. Branches in Miami Township, West Carrollton and both Kettering locations will undergo expansions and renovations to make better use of existing space.
Due to the size and age of the buildings, the branches to be consolidated lack the ability to offer basic services. New site selection is being conducted with careful consideration, and this plan ensures that patrons travelling the additional blocks to a new branch will experience a quantum increase in the library services received. Likewise, these new facilities will have an impact well beyond a single neighborhood. Many more residents will travel slightly farther to visit modern branches that are more likely to have the materials they seek, computers available when they arrive, and a quiet place to sit and read when desired.
New branches constructed under this plan will have the following characteristics:
In addition to these core elements, library branches will offer separate spaces for children's story hours, and many will have early childhood manipulative activities to promote kindergarten readiness. The buildings will be equipped with upgraded power and connectivity, with work stations tailored for current and future technology. Additional space will be available for library events and community activities. Many locations will have flexible space to share with nonprofit partners for short and long-term programs, to use as civic and service incubators, and to address future needs of the library.
The existing main library will be renovated and expanded, offering all the amenities of the branches including significantly more computers and dedicated spaces for quiet reading, study and informal small group meetings. There will be a computer lab for hands-on training on new technology and new ways to access information. Ample parking will be created below ground offering convenience to patrons and preserving the beauty of Cooper Park.
Today most of the main library's collections are housed in storage areas and are only available to the public upon request. A new popular library collection will satisfy the needs of most residents, but more direct access to the library's vast collection of materials will draw researchers and serious students to the downtown library. The main library will become a regional attraction and a place for events and for research.
A free-standing building will be constructed or renovated to permanently accommodate the library's backroom operations at a lower cost per square foot than retaining those functions at the main library. The center will also provide valuable swing space for temporary needs during the construction process, which then will house the library's outreach services currently operating out of leased space.
The projects will be phased over four segments based on the severity of current building issues and geographic spread; adjustments may be made pending completion of land acquisitions. Site-specific design development for the first segment will begin in Spring 2013 with the intent to break ground on three branches and the operations center in 2014. The final segment will be completed in 2017. The main library expansion will be initiated with the first segment and completed in the final phase due to the size and complexity of the renovation.
The $187 million bond issue passed in November 2012 with strong support. The historic low borrowing rates, coupled with Dayton Metro Library receiving the best credit rating of any library in the state, resulted in a successful bond sale in March 2103. With financing secured; projects may be enhanced through philanthropic efforts.