Fayetteville library expansion team aims high

Posted: November 7, 2017 at 1 a.m.

The old City Hospital building stands March 16 south of the Fayetteville Public Library. An 80,000-square-foot library expansion will extend south.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Preliminary plans for the library expansion would require more space and money than allotted in the project's budget, so now it's time to narrow the focus, board members agreed Monday.

Architects with Minneapolis-based design firm Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle updated library board members on the progress of the 80,000-square-foot, voter-approved expansion. The addition would nearly double the library's size and have dedicated areas for genealogy, state and local history, an expanded youth services wing, about 200 more parking spots and other features.

Next meeting

When: 4 p.m. Nov. 20

Where: Ann Henry Board Room, Fayetteville Public Library, 401 W. Mountain St.

The design phase has started. Final renderings should be ready within a year with construction scheduled to begin in February 2019 and finishing at the end of 2020.

A programming effort, led by consultant Anders Dahlgren, divvies up how much space would be dedicated to a certain use. About 27,000 square feet would be used just to hold fiction and physical media, library staff would take up about 26,000 square feet and about 23,000 square feet would house the nonfiction.

Initial projections for intended use would put the needed space about 21,000 square feet over budget. Executive Director David Johnson said that was by design.

"I encouraged the staff to dream as big as they can," he said. "Put everything in the bucket and then we'll start pulling out low-priority stuff that we can live without."

Jack Poling, principal architect on the project, said the extra square footage would equate to about $10 million over the $49 million budget. In the agreed budget, nearly $23 million will come from private donations while a millage increase voters approved last year will equate to just more than $26 million.

Board President Hershey Garner raised the possibility of securing more money in private donations, which could lead to a larger expansion. Poling advised the board against the idea.

"That's a really nasty chicken-and-egg problem," he said.

To get closer to the total 168,000-square-foot framework, Poling said it makes sense to start with the largest space-occupiers first. For example, collections alone amount to about 50,000 square feet, he said.

"That's probably the touchiest subject, is books in a library," Poling said. "I'm not saying anything other than that's the biggest chunk of space, and that's one of the places you've got to start. I don't know what the outcome of that is."

Library staff and the design team have spent recent weeks touring other libraries in the United States and Europe. Dokk1 library in Denmark, for example, has fewer books than the Fayetteville library with more than double the space, Poling said.

A common theme arose at the libraries toured, said Lynn Yandell, director of information technology.

"They design for people not books," he said. "Books can go anywhere."

NW News on 11/07/2017