Original post made
on Aug 18, 2007
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The Edward Durell Stone Main Library is the best public space in town that's been neglected and overcrowded for at least half a generation. It comes from an era when Palo Alto had the courage to hire nationally known figures to design our public buildings.
Main needs a lot of work. However the steps are out of sequence. We should have a public discussion about what features we need in new space: how do we rank meeting and project spaces for adults and school kids, study carrels, reading space, more stacks for collections, more computers, coffee shop… let's get a list started of what we'd like to have. We need a public discussion about what's on and off limits in the current building. We need a budget for an initial phase and for the long term on the site. We need to establish what's buildable on the site - for example is the community garden space available? The field behind the Art Center? How many parking spaces do we need? How do the meeting spaces align with the Art Center and with Lucie Stern?
Then we need to hire as good an architect today as Durell Stone was in his day and let him or her design for the next 50 years.
Interesting ideas from aw. Main is a fine building. Was any of this done for the Mitchell branch? or did they just plunk down a million dollars for architectural plans?
Edward Durell Stone, the franchise architect? The one whose estate had to pay for fixing the screwups in our city hall?
There are probably 20 local architects who would have better suited our needs than Stone and his surrogate Hill.
Perhaps instead of another community meeting room a teleconferencing center could be included, to enable city business to be transacted without the burden of travel.
If the branch libraries have just become a pick up/drop up spot for preheld books, all that is required at the two branches is a desktop self checkout computer and book drop. This could easily be accommodated in the vestibule of a city owned facility that is used for other things and could kill two birds with one stone. If, as many people have indicated, the two branch libraries are full of unstacked shelves and most library patrons are putting books on hold at home and then traveling to pick them up, it seems that a fully functioning library at these venues is not required. In fact, perhaps we could increase this service and have a pickup/dropoff library point at say the various secondary schools and other sites around the city.
They might even deliver and pick up for the cost of what we do now. Central kiosks all over town. All books in a central library. electronically sorted and reclaimed.
The comments seem to suggest that there hasn't been enough legwork already spent in figuring out what should be done at the various branches. Please refer to the LAC's recent report -- known as the LSMAR. Plenty has already been done to figure out the right solution to inadequate space. Our democratic system is working well for the library. Let's keep the process on track... and move forward with the plans presented to the HRB!!
Thank you for the reference. I had not seen the report. It's too bad the original article did not reference the project as a consequence of the 2006 LSMAR report. Here's a web link for anyone who's interested:
That said, the report doesn't explicitly prioritize more meeting space at Main as a top goal. There may be other reports that detail goals for the Durell Stone building, but the LSMAR only touches on the topic obliquely. It's not clear if this is the only plan for the Main site or if there are subsequent development plans as more funding becomes available.
Overall this project has the Palo Alto process hiding-in-plain-sight problem: it might have been apparent to all 18 members of the Friends of Palo Alto Libraries, but it's less obvious to the other 59,000 of us.
Gosh, aw, you seem to know so much about the LSMAR. I'm impressed.
Do you also know the library commissioner who, it is widely rumored, frequently posts on Town Square? I'd be interested to know what he thinks about the Main plan.
Don't claim to know much about the LSMAR except what I gleaned from a single reading. I made a mistake in my earlier post - Friends have 18 Board members; not 18 members.
What's disappointing here is that there are always five or ten projects like this percolating in Palo Alto. We don't see a calendar published for each project showing the timelines, milestones and budgets. We don't see a unified calendar showing the Library initiatives, the Utility initiatives, the Parks initiatives, Roads, public buildings, etc. Often a Council priority from three years earlier will be offered as the rationale for a project; but the Council's priorities have changed by the time the report is issued.
So we get what appear to be bolts from the blue: a report that the HRB is reviewing a site plan at Main. The twenty people who've been participating say, "It's all been conducted in public view." And the rest of us have had literally no clue that something was brewing.
My personal view: adding to Main is a great idea. Tucking a few conference rooms under the eaves is much harder to do well than building a sincere addition.