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‘Your Library Reimagined’ attracts crowd

By Staff | Jan 27, 2016

Peter Bolek of HBM Architects spoke with members of the community last Wednesday to understand what they want to see for their library. MEGHAN MCCOY

Feedback was sought from the community last week of what they would like their library to include during the Sanibel Public Library “Your Library Reimagined” session.”

Sanibel Public Library Executive Director Margaret Mohundro said with the library being 21 years old, there are so many more efficient ways to improve the space. She said while they enter that process, why not look at the building itself.

“How we are using the building now is different than how we used it 21 years ago,” Mohundro said. “Let’s look at the layout of the building while we are at it.”

The Library Board of Commissioners issued a request for proposal for firms to respond regarding library space planning and interior design of libraries. Mohundro said they received a few responses back resulting in interviews.

The commissioners decided to hire HBM Architects from Cleveland, Ohio. Peter Bolek and Brooke Breiner traveled to Sanibel Wednesday, Jan. 20 for two “Your Library Reimagined” sessions.

Members of the community took time to write down their likes and dislikes of possible enhancements to the Sanibel Public Library during a “Your Library Reimagined” session last week. MEGHAN MCCOY

“They are going to use you all as part of their research and they have a couple of other activities planned with our staff and library board. They are going to put all of that together and then they are going to come up with a conceptual rendering. The board will then decide what the next steps are,” Mohundro said. “You will be hearing more about it in the upcoming months.”

Bolek said Wednesday evening was a very important part of their process because attendees help them understand their likes and dislikes of what they want to see in their library. For the past few years, he said the firm has been using “Mind Breaking Process,” which encourages thinking outside of the box of what they know about their library.

“We had a session this afternoon and it was well attended,” he told those who attended the 7 p.m. session. “One woman said that she feels very comfortable at the library. The library is inviting to her. When she walks into the library she feels like the arms of the building embrace her. We want to leave that.”

Bolek went on to say that the sessions are very important to them because it helps them gather a great deal of information rather quickly in a real organized way.

“When we begin to lay out thoughts on the new library, we are going to do that on the basis of what we hear and view about what you like,” he said.

The attendees were guided through a series of slides that highlighted various areas of the library. As Bolek took the audience through the slides he encouraged them to share their likes and dislikes of what they saw on Post It notes that were then attached to large pieces of paper on the wall at the end of the session.

Slide after slide various spaces were shown and how the space could be used.

The first space was how to improve the entrance experience. Such visuals as a grand stair going to the second floor, donor recognition wall, staff greeting space, seating on the upper level looking down on the lower level, a digital display of things going on in the library or the community and niches in the wall for displays were shown.

Various ways to exhibit art were also shown with easy ways to change and move the art around the library.

Seating and Cafe was another area that was discussed. Areas of living room setups with both soft seating and traditional library tables, beverage and snack vending machines that are self-serve and space for a coffee maker were also depicted.

As Bolek took the audience through the slides he pointed out a good amount of pictures that had windows for natural light, which might be a good addition for the Sanibel Public Library.

Bolek said they are starting to see face out displays for books, which can be material of a certain subject, new material, or hot picks, something that is very visible for easy browsing. He said they are also seeing zoning sections that are organized by subjects at libraries incorporated with soft seating for individuals to browse the books.

Children’s areas were also shown through multiple slides as a defined special space zoned different from the rest of the library. Bolek said they have created whimsical entrances that showcase fun, inspiring and intriguing thoughts.

An example was using reclaimed trees separating the children’s space from the main library where the children would have to walk through the trees to enter with various noises of the outdoors. Another example was separating the children’s room with glass, which adds to keeping the noise levels down from the remainder of the library.

A collection of different seating, such as bean bags, soft seating and little niches in the wall were shared.

The teen area showcased such ideas as creation labs, collaboration and technology labs, as well as booths and higher counters with stools.

The technology portion of the slideshow included incorporating power ports in the tables and chairs, so everyone can plug in throughout the library.

“Everyone has their own device and can plug in,” Bolek said.

The presentation also touched upon how libraries are decreasing the size of staff desks and increasing spaces that are self-serve for patrons.

Bolek said some libraries have incorporated desks where staff can sit on the same side as those they are helping to offer a more one-on-one feel.

Outdoor spaces with outdoor seating and lighting, as well as outdoor gardens with reading areas were also shown.

“Those are examples and things that are happening that might resonate with you,” Bolek said. “With all the libraries that we have worked with they have been grounded with input from the community.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.