Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Library Construction: What You Need to Know


Marjorie Judd, Library Building Consultant
Alex Cohen, Aaron Cohen Associates Ltd.
Richard Marks, President, Daedalus Projects
Dale Caldwell, Lead Project Manager, Skanska USA Building Inc.

Library facility planning in light of rapidly changing collections and patron needs while embracing collaborative spaces and adaptive learning environments.

Marjorie began this part of the presentation by discussing the Library Building Program and its importance in the library building process.

In 1985 Marjorie, the new director of the Middleboro Public Library was told she needed to renovate the library. Marjorie immediately hit the books and did some studies to prepare.
Marjorie addressed the all important question when considering a building project: What comes first in preparing? Self Education and Needs Assessment are the most important phases in considering a building project.

1. Self Education—Director and Trustees
• Go to as many people as possible, including natural allies of the library: historical society, garden club—as many people who could have a say in the final project
• Go to appropriate workshops
• Consult with MBLC Building consultant

2. Needs Assessment (Assess the library’s needs)
• Update the library’s long range plan
• Do a study of the community
• Create and implement surveys
• Do studies of the existing building

What’s wrong with the library? What’s good about the library? What does dream library look like? What are some political hurdles that might impede construction?

Look at reports—long range plans, surveys, studies and try to digest all the data. Measure in-house items at the library such as collection development, the number of computers, collection size, and seats. What corrections should be made? Make a detailed outline and go over it with the director. Write a draft based on observations. Give to library administration to go over page by page. Make sure everyone is comfortable with document set to deliver to whomever (grant board, funding institution, etc.)
Create a lovable space—responsible and perpetually relevant.

Alex Cohen from Aaron Cohen Associates

Look at building designs in addition to as many papers you have examining the library and its needs. A Library building starts with Needs Assessment. What does community need? What services are you delivering? Can the site hold what the community needs? Small communities make it difficult to move a library. Begin by looking at adjacency.

Visual Scan Space Audit=What is the library of the future? Walk around the library and look at the spaces. Use LibQUAL and Visual Scan together to assess ways to improve space dysfunction.

Look at collection, seating and staff—three variables as Alex reminds us. Use the three variables as aggregates of the total square footage. Library programming comprises more than 50% of patron seating, where years ago the library space was used for about 70% of the collection. The present/future model of the library means that it is moving toward a more patron-oriented space.

Alex encourages the audience to develop block diagrams to size service requirements into different phases, phase one and phase two. Make sure that people see right off the bat where the investment is placed. Example of Cohen and Associates work featured in last month’s edition of American Libraries for work in Lane, OH. Lane Public Library, at Cohen’s suggestion, took out a massive circulation desk located in the middle of the reading room to open up the room and enliven the facility. No one wants to read around the circulation desk. It is important to think about space, such as whether people are willing to have their back to people passing behind them; it can be a little disconcerting.

Alex also explains the importance of academic bubbles (Building Program Blocks) to get the size and relation of services and needs right. Are there areas weighing the library down? The idea is to take highlights out of the written reports and studies and break the library down visually.

What does it cost to build the library of tomorrow? How do you get the most out of every dollar? How do you know the budget will hold from concept to completion?

Richard Marks, president, Daedalus Projects

Richard gives a perspective on how to get the library built. Richard emphasizes the importance of the Owner’s Project Manager—OPM (Other People’s Money, as he likes to call it)—The role of the OPM is to spend that $$ wisely. The owner, Richard reminds us, is the top of the food change (follow the money=owner=most important person).
The OPM makes sure the contractor is doing their job. The contractor is looking out for themselves. They want to make money doing the job. Project Manager on the other hand pushes the contractor to do what is in the best interest of the owner.
The OPM should be hired before the architect. The OPM helps sift through and organize the information, including the cost of the project and the making of a budget.

Even though the OPM is incredibly important for maintaining the cost and integrity of the project, they do not know the culture of the town. Living and working in town, residents know best for offering input. The OPM does not know the value and needs of the community; they arrive to manage the project, not dictate what should be built.

Value Engineering

Richard reiterates the importance of what is known as Value Engineering, a sort of reality check so that the design phase remains within budget. Value engineering does not mean changing nice carpet to cheap carpet, but rather getting more bang for your buck. The OPM is on site every day to make sure the bones of the project are right. It is important to remember that it is not easy to fix leaks or tear out wall if there are major construction mistakes along the way. The OPM ensures the construction is done right and done right the first time. Remember, it is easy to paint a wall but not so easy to rip apart a building littered with major structural errors.
Dale Caldwell, Lead Project Manager, Skanska USA Building Inc.

Dale Caldwell, presenting with Richard Marks, stressed a couple of main points about the construction process
Cost control
Cost control is the most important pre-construction function of any project, which includes:
• Careful study of site conditions
• Develop detailed project budget
• Conduct value engineering
• Evaluate materials and life cycle system costs
• Perform detailed drawing and specifications

Schedule control
The construction schedule is incredibly important. Time does equate to money. The prices of materials are changing almost daily. Deflation has hit rock bottom, but it won’t stay that way for long.
Project Budget
Includes all costs associated with the budget to make sure everything is in line and accounted for.
It is a good idea to map out a project budget as a game plan. Every decision leads to another; everything is linked.

Check out the ALA link for organizing and managing your library construction project
ALA Library Construction
And tips for surviving library construction from

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