Library Issues RFP for Downtown Library Space Needs/Facility Study

The Ann Arbor District Library is soliciting proposals from interested and qualified consultants for a space needs and facility feasibility study of the Downtown (Central) Library located at 343 S. Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

The AADL Board adopted a strategic plan in 2004 that includes a facilities goal to replace or renovate the Downtown Library. This RFP is the beginning of what is likely to be a year long process to determine the future size, scope of services, and location of the Downtown Library.

The Library anticipates award of this consulting contract within 30 days of the bid deadline of January 22, 2007. The consultant should be prepared to initiate work by March 1, 2007 with an expected completion date of no later than June 1, 2007.

Interested parties should contact Lisa Pollock at or call 734.327.8311 to receive a copy of the RFP document.


PLEASE do not move the downtown library out of downtown.
It is one of a very few things that has not moved out of town, the others being Farmer's Market and Kiwanis Club.
We lost all our hardware stores, department stores, most of the food stores....
A lot of us live near that library. I go there about twice a week.
I feel very sorry for Ypsilanti, having its main library
inaccessible and not even on the bus route. We visited
the Pittsfield Branch once and the location is horrible.

I second this opinion. Please keep the downtown location. We visit once per week and really value the central location.

FYI Sindi-Ypsilanti has two library locations, one of which is on Michigan Avenue downtown, within walking distance from the Ypsi transit center. It sounds like you've only been to the YDL branch on Whittaker Road.

Likewise, I appreciate the downtown library's location. It is very convenient for those who do not own cars as it is across the street from the bus station. it is also convenient for U of M students who make up a large segment of the population in the city.
Secondly, I wonder whether there is a plan to renovate and expand the services currently offered at the West branch location. I feel that there is a gross inequity between the services and the quality of space offered at,say, Mallet's Creek branch or Pittsfield branch and those at West branch. The allocation of library resources should be equitable among all the areas of the city, regardless of residents' income level in the surrounding neighborhoods. I feel that West branch has been omitted to date in the efforts to provide the best library resources and space.

There should be little change in the downtown branch. It services a lot of people who are able to walk to it or take the bus. The Pittsfield branch is inaccesible to most foot traffic. It would also be a long, out of the way, bus ride.

I appreciate the feedback and interest. That is what we need, and one of the main reasons for having a study done on how we currently use the downtown library, and what might be needed in the future.

There was a branch study plan done in 1997, and that plan is what we have followed to locate and build new branches. The hope is that we will be able to purchase property in the northwest sector of the district and build a new branch. If that does not prove feasible or possible, we will look at other means to provide the best services/location possible.

I need to say that for the thousands of people who walk and bike to Pittsfield now from the southwest portion of our district, the location is not horrible. It is very important that we all try hard to realize that the district is far larger than the city boundaries of Ann Arbor, and tens of thousands of people living outside of Ann Arbor support the library with their taxes. Our goal is to serve as many people as we can as conveniently as we can.

Like the other respondents, I favor a flagship downtown library.
I use and enjoy the Northeast Branch, and am looking forward to the new location there,
but I hope that "the library" will always mean the one on Fifth Avenue.

Thanks for the web site - it makes the Library available anytime - a real treat.

I sincerely hope that the library will stay downtown. It is a wonderful central location, and the resources and programs are far richer than they are at the branches. Even though I live closer to Mallet's Creek, and it is indeed a wonderful building, I always use the Main Library because I love it so. PLEASE do not take it away from downtown. There will be many new users with all the developments being built in the area, and this ought to be of considerable importance to the library. It also holds the Friends' Bookshop which is such a community jewel.

Why not buy the parking lot from the city and build there, with parking underground and and attached access to the library - out of the rain, snow and cold weather? It makes a lot of sense, and while the building is in progress, the existing library can still be used. Then when it is open, the library could profit by selling the land it is on now.

Whatever you decide, keep it in a centrally located place in the downtown.

Thank you for your support of the library. Your ideas are good ones, and we will be considering all options and possibilities.

I appreciate that you are looking forward to the new branch. So am I! Your comments about the library system as a whole are also appreciated, and I'm glad that the website is a positive resource for you.

What a privilege to be part of an organization so loved by the public! We have been heavy users of the AADL for the past 35 years, both adults and children.

Several years ago we moved out of the city, to Pittsfield Township. Loving Branch is now Malletts Creek, which I use regularly. What for? Picking up items on the hold shelf. Looking through new books. Browsing DVD’s. Occasionally I’ll look on the regular shelves, but not often. It’s a wonderful library and I love the sustainable landscaping and green roof. However, when I really want to look around (which is often), I go downtown. That’s where the supply of books never seems to end. That’s where I stumble across something new – although in fact it’s very old. That’s where surprises and wonderful finds await those who look.

I mostly use a car, and, although complaints about parking leak out now and again, the parking situation would never deter me from going to Main. Every vibrant city needs a serious downtown library. A well-stocked library. A library where you can find an old copy of Willard’s “Childhood of the Magician”, or Marjorie Bingham’s ”The Flora of Oakland County”. Where you find yourself face to face with Magnum Photo’s 9/11 exhibit and get your priorities in order. Or where you meet Zelda Fitzgerald the artist and delight in her colorful paper cutouts. And, where you can jump on a computer and check your email. To not have a downtown library – or to have a “branch” downtown library, would be, what - a crime against community?

Libraries are wonderful – thank you for making ours the best.

I can certainly understand the need to have a library downtown, but if the location, and space limitations there, are contributing to the rush to de-accession, I wonder whether a larger storage facility somewhere else might not be a good idea. Repeatedly, I have found that books I have appreciated in the past (especially in the art collection) have been removed, and Lord knows how many thousands of dollars worth of microfilm is gone (particularly indexed periodicals that don't go out of date, as Fine Woodworking, Fine Homebuilding, and the like). Why make gifts to the library if many of the most expensive books are just going to be sold off? If the downtown library is only going to be a somewhat larger collection than the branches, rather than a substantial depository, some other scheme should be considered. As for the West Branch, it's beloved at our end of town. Although the collection is modest and the parking scarce, the staff is great. We've tried driving to the Ice Cube branch, but the traffic is prohibitive; it's easier and faster to head downtown. Of course, when the traffic circles in front of the new high school rev up to full speed, all bets are off. Allan Stillwagon

Thank you for such a well written comment on our current services. It is gratifying. I agree with you about the importance of a Main library located in the downtown area and we are working hard to assure that long into the future.

Mr. Stillwagon,

Deaccessioning has been part of the library's business for decades. If you do not find what you are looking for, please let someone on staff know. If we don't own an item now, have discarded it, or don't plan to purchase it, we can get it for you through interlibrary loan.

I'm glad that you enjoy using the Westgate Branch. The staff there ARE great.


I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that the parking at the West branch is "scarce". The parking lot stretches nearly to the horizon in two directions. I've never had to walk more than 50 yards from my car to the library. I would be sorry to see this branch closed down in favor of another free-standing structure you have to make a separate drive to get to.

The people downtown need a library right there.Please do not close that location. Through the years my mother took us there as kids and my brother is a second class in the US Navy going to college part time, my older sister is a grad student at U of M getting her doctorate in public health and I am a sophmore at WCC ! That library made that happen for us!


One way that the downtown library could increase its space would be to make the staff parking lot underground and build above it. The library would not have to purchase more land, it would stay right downtown (I agree with others that this is important).

Speaking of renovations - The wheelchair ramp at the front door of the downtown building really should be at a more gentle slope. I'm sure that the library has been careful to adhere to ADA regulations but I have seen people in manual wheelchairs really struggle to go up that ramp. There is space there to make the ramp longer and of a lesser slope. A level spot part way up to stop and rest would also be very helpful to chair users.

My hometown library made college happen for me, too! Thank you for the comment.


Thanks for the suggestion about parking. We do work hard to meet, and often exceed, ADA requirments and I'll look into your concerns about the slope of the ramp.


Please do not tell us to "wait" before commenting on a possible move of the downtown library. Those of us who have lived here and raised children here know you can't "wait". Decisions are often made PRIOR to public comment and/or by out-state consultants so we must be pro-active. We need to KEEP THE DOWNTOWN location open...I am on my way there now to search the travel BROWSE this massive section. While I enjoy the ease of picking up items at West Branch (which many of us think is also on the chopping block) I like the downtown location best because of it's enormous collection. I urge you to hire consultants who know our area and are aware of local concerns. I also urge concerned patrons to closely follow the proceedings of the AADL Board to keep up to date on this and other items of concern. I LOVE OUR LIBRARY SYSTEM and don't want to see the destruction of the main branch. Carolyn Knake

I want to add my voices to those who are supporting the downtown location of the main library. I live on the west side of town and I use the West Branch (occasionally) and the new Pittsfield branch (occasionally), but I trully love the downtown library for the breadth of its resources. Although the parking can sometimes be tight, I have always found a parking spot when I needed one. All three of these branches are closer by bike than the one city library that I used as a child. Consequently, I am not sure if I need access to all three, but I would be unhappy if the main library were moved further away. BTW, when I was a student at UM (without a car), I often walked to the main library. The needs of students should be considered too.

Well I think it's obvious the library should stay downtown, but where? The city has already planned to build the new city hall and court buildings on the parking lot next door... so that's out. What about tearing down the old YMCA and building a new library there with underground or attached parking as mentioned. Maybe keep the current building as well for extra space or selling it (perhaps to the city for future expansion).

"The city has already planned to build the new city hall and court buildings on the parking lot next door..."

No, looks like the Larcom site is the current fore-runner:

I haven't seen the resolution, though.

(And let me just add a "me too" to the chorus of supporters of a walkable central downtown library with a large, browsable collection--the current downtown library is probably my favorite place in Ann Arbor.)

Thank you, Carolyn. My request that people wait to comment was specific to the results and findings from the study. We won't have those until June. We encourage public input and work hard to be transparent. Your comments are always appreciated.


I am very glad that you use more than one library in the system and can see how different they are from one another. Many UM students use the library, now more than ever, since we have WiFi and allow food and beverages in our buildings. Our hours are pretty good for their schedules, too.



Where is one of the questions that we need to answer, and we are taking the first steps to get to the answers with this study. We have a great location in the Downtown and we know it. What we don't know, is whether or not the current building can be renovated and/or expanded to provide a central library that meets the needs of the immediate and longer term future. Your ideas and suggestions are good ones and I appreciate that you are thinking strategically about the needs of a growing and highly valued Downtown Library.



The City did decide to remain on the Larcom site and to go forward with a project that would include the court and a new police facility at that location.

I'm glad that the Downtown library is one of your favorite places in Ann Arbor. It is for me, too, and was for years before I worked here. :)


Can anyone explain to me exactly what is wrong with the downtown library the way it currently is? Location? Size? Parking? Building deteriorating? I am confused. Money and funds can go to better uses.


We are doing the study to determine the extent of a number of things that we know will need to be addressed in the future. Our heating and cooling systems are deteriorating and will need to be replaced. We are faced with implementing technologies in a building that was not designed for computerization. While we have handled that well up to now, our options are limited for the future. Our building could be much better in terms of ADA. We are compliant as the law applies to us, but we do not exceed the code and would like to do so. Accessibility and comfort are important and we would like to be proactive offering that to the public. Our meeting spaces are inadequate for the audiences attending the various programs and events held in the Library. Collection formats have changed and continue to change. Incorporating new formats in terms of space and shelving, is a continuing challenge. These are a few of the issues facing us.

Use of the library has increased dramatically and consistently over the past ten years and we do not anticipate a decline. It is important that we review our resources in order to plan for the future. At the end of the day, the public will decide if money is to be spent on a major building project for the Downtown library.

Thanks for the question.