Archive for Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ideas shared for new public library

Energy efficiency, expanded services on wish list

September 27, 2005


Imagine a greatly expanded Lawrence Public Library topped with an energy-saving windmill or two.

That was just one of numerous ideas raised during a Monday evening of brainstorming about the services, capabilities and unique possible looks that a future downtown library might have.

Today's trends show libraries evolving from simple holding areas for books and materials to strong community-based centers with unique looks, community programs and lots of meeting space, said Jeff Scherer, a representative of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd. architecture and urban design firm in Minneapolis.

"Not everybody is going to get exactly what they want," said Scherer, who facilitated the discussion held in a Lawrence Memorial Hospital conference room.

About 30 people attended the meeting, including library staff, some Lawrence City commissioners, members of a task force studying library needs and expansion and a few from the public.

Cindy Chappell, who moved to Johnson County from Madison, Wis., was one of those who attended. She and her husband are now contemplating moving to Lawrence, she said.

"We're investigating the city," she said, adding that she was glad that Lawrence wants to improve its library and that she liked some of the things she heard during the discussion.

Those attending the meeting thought the library should remain downtown and that one of the key factors in it being a success is expanded parking. Among other ideas discussed were making the new building environmentally friendly through the use of energy-conserving materials. It also might contain a cafe or coffee shop and a used book store. The library would house more books and operate a drive-through pick-up and drop-off service.

While technology and services offered by the library will evolve and change, the larger building should have long-lasting staying power like the Douglas County Courthouse, said Mayor Boog Highberger.

"I would like to see a building that will still be loved a hundred years from now," he said.

In addition to Scherer's firm, also attending the meeting and working with library officials on future plans were Steve Clark, principal architect with Gould Evans Architects, and Anders Dahlgren, president of the Library Planning Associates Inc., of Madison, Wis.

Similar future brainstorming meetings are planned and will be announced. The meetings are open to the public.


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