AADL Receives Space Needs and Facility Study for Downtown Library

The Library Board received a space needs and facility study from Providence Associates at its July 23, 2007 Board meeting. The study was commissioned in February of this year in an effort to answer questions related to space needs for library services and programming, and to assess the physical and mechanical integrity of the current facility. The study meets a Facilities objective in the library’s current Strategic Plan that was adopted in 2004 and runs through 2010.

I would like to express my gratitude to the 150 or so persons who gave their time to this study by agreeing to participate in one of 12 focus groups conducted in March, and to those who accepted the public invitation to attend a focus group session in April. This honest appraisal of what works and what doesn’t and what needs to exist that is currently not offered by the Library, combined with real data about the facility, is captured in the study document.

This space needs and facility study form the beginning of a process that the Board will use to determine what steps to take in assuring library service in Downtown Ann Arbor. Options for what can be done at our current location are provided in the study, but these are concepts and are not intended to be viewed as plans. The Library Board will take the study information, expand on it, and continue to work to determine the best next step for the community at large.

Please review the attached documents, and then come back and post your own thoughts and questions about the study findings.

Providence Proposal 2007
Providence Report July 23, 2007



Thank you very much for posting the full document, which I enjoyed reading. There is quite a price range among the four options -- from low end $11M to high end $66M. Personally, I think Ann Arbor would do well to select the high end option, but I don't understand millage politics well enough to know if that is realistic. What will it take to get there?

My $.02 about priorities is that I would regard things like a 400-seat auditorium as ancillary to the library's primary function as a knowledge repository. I realize the library auditorium has always been a great convenience to the community, but shouldn't the rest of the community (e.g. the city, local businesses, the university) bear more of the cost of providing conference services to downtown?

I would prioritize safety, accessibility (in every sense of the term), and collection quality over conference services.


Fred Z.

Mr. Zimmerman,

Thank you for reading the entire document. I know it is long. Thank you also for your response. I appreciate that you are willing to pose questions and be forthright about what you support or question.

We will be taking the study document apart and considering not only the options included, but variations on those options, and others not considered.



Thank you for posting the full document and for the opportunity to comment.

My favorite option is #3, the new building & underground parking structure built on the existing surface lot. This option seems to be the best: it meets the library's needs and adds a green grace to an area that's in desperate need of it. In terms of landscape and architectural design, community identity, and metaphors -- I cannot think of a more fitting center to our beloved Tree Town than a green space filled with books, trees, and the community the first two create.

The first two options seem like a lot of money for solutions that don't really resolve material needs and concerns. We would just be pushing our challenges on to the next generation. I think it is helpful to note that Option #3 assumes the cost for the underground parking paid by the city. While the distinction is important on any number of levels, it is also important to remember that it is just one big "us". Ultimately, Option #3 and Option #4 are very similar in cost; it's just that different groups and tools may be brought to bear on the challenge rather than just the AADL. Heaven knows downtown could use one more parking structure (particularly an underground one)!

Thank you for the Board's, the consultants', and the focus groups' hard work.

As an aside, I have my family in other parts of the US in awe over the fact that I walked into a branch of our public library at 9:00 and walked out with HP 7 at 9:05 a.m. this last Saturday, thanks to your organizational abilities, service, and spectacular website!


As much as I appreciate your considered response to the study document, and I do, I must tell you the best part was the HP comment. We are very proud of how well we were able to manage getting HP 7 out and, yes, we are gloating over the fact that you could get your library copy at 9:05 Saturday morning.


Yes, I was also impressed by the fact that I saw three HP7s on the ZOom Lend shelf at West Branch at 5 pm Saturday the 22d. It was also impressive that you still had some left at that time of day. Great job!

There's an active thread on Arbor Update regarding this proposal.

Edward Vielmetti