With the city’s population expected to exceed 40,000 once the wedge is built out, Parkland has started planning for the expansion of its library.
There is no decision yet on the proposed size of the expanded facility, but according to PGAL of Boca Raton, the firm that has been tasked with preparing a master plan for the facility, libraries in cities of comparable size are generally three times the size of the one in Parkland. The expansion will be taken up in phases.
Even without the wedge, the current facility is challenged for space as the city’s population has grown by more than 80 percent since 2000. “We do not have adequate space to do programs,” said Joe Green, library manager. “We have outgrown our space for children’s services. The good thing is that we have adequate space for expansion. The building was designed with that in mind.”
Sam Ferreri and Ann Fils, the project consultants, recently presented a report to the City Commission after completing the initial phase of the project. The report, prepared after organizing two public meetings and interviewing library stakeholders, was approved by city officials.
“If the request for funding for Phase Two is accepted, we hope to begin work in the fall of 2014,” said Green. “The consultant will present various options for the commission to consider. Phase Two should take 3 to 4 months. Expansion of the library will happen in 2016 at the earliest.”
The consultants’ report benchmarks the facility against libraries in cities with demographics similar to Parkland, such as Winter Park, Westport, Peachtree City, Ridgewood and Rancho Mirage. The Parkland library lags behind such libraries when it comes to the size of the facility, hours of operation and size of the collection.
Libraries in cities similar to Parkland are open 66.6 hours per week on an average; the city’s facility is open for 52 hours a week. While the average library size is 1.59 square feet per capita, Parkland has 0.55 square feet per capita. The biggest difference is in the size of collections; the average in this category is 5.25 volumes per capita, but Parkland has only 1.38 volumes per capita.
People like the hometown feel of the library and would like the city to retain that,” said Ferreri. “Your residents would like to see more books, more casual reading space and more program spaces. Children are one of the driving forces for people to use the library. Reading programs and story time are important.”
An area of children, one for teens, homework centers, tutoring rooms and a collaborative work area are some of the other ideas proposed by residents. Quiet rooms, art exhibit space and a café are some of the other facilities that people would like to see at the library.
“I would like us to expand on our e-book services,” said Mayor Michael Udine. “We also need to pay more attention to our seniors as we move forward.”
“The role of libraries is changing in communities,” said Vice Mayor Christine Hunschofsky. “I hope we have taken that into account. Keeping the space flexible is important.”