On Wednesday, July 6, 2011, Andersen-Brule’ Architects (ABA) presented the final report of the Pacifica Libraries Needs Assessment, a year-long process that featured a collaboration between 4 civic entities: the City of Pacifica, the San Mateo County Library (SMCL), the Pacifica Library Foundation and the Pacifica Friends of the Library. All four entities provided funding for the project and members of the Core Team, which worked with ABA throughout the process, were drawn from each organization.
After a series of community workshops, a staff workshop, key informant interviews and a focus group, ABA was able to show that although the community highly values library services and the library staff, the facilities need upgrading in order to meet the needs of the 21st century library patron and for Pacifica to enjoy the same modern library services as our neighboring communities on the Peninsula, California and the nation.
The report, which recommends either a single large library of 33,410 GSF (gross square feet) or two libraries (like the current configuration in Pacifica) of 23,010 GSF and 20,740GSF, represents a major upgrade from the current facilities which would allow SMCL to implement the SMCL Service Model of modern library services in Pacifica. The Service Model emphasizes self-reliant services, a marketplace of popular materials, a Kids and Family Place, a Teen Zone, a Community Living Room, a Gathering Place for the community and Computer and Homework Centers, all of which are sorely needed in Pacifica and are now only being offered in limited capacity or not at all.
Other recommended features include a large meeting room/programming space, smaller meeting rooms for group study, small business meetings, and community groups, more than double the number of public computer terminals and a tripling of the available seating, all of which would enhance the user experience and create the destination library that we have all envisioned for years.
A Job Well Done
All four partners in this project wish to thank ABA for their expert, professional handling of the entire process which resulted in this highly illustrative and compelling final report that indicates without question that a new library in Pacifica is highly needed and desired by the community and that many benefits both direct and indirect can follow from investing in the community by ensuring access to formal education support, lifelong learning, literacy (print and technological) and an informed citizenry that is both politically astute and prepared to succeed in the modern workplace.
The next step is for the four partners to move to the next phase of a building program that calls for preliminary architectural workups of the spaces recommended by the Needs Assessment and potential configurations of those spaces. The route from Needs Assessment to cutting the ribbon on the new facility is a 5-7 year process that will result in an enhancement of the quality of life in the community and an economic engine for local business. Studies have shown that new libraries, which draw thousands of visits every year, serve as a major draw for local businesses which benefits in increased foot traffic and association with a valued civic treasure.
You are encouraged to view the final presentation below.
Thom Ball has worked for the San Mateo County Library for 11 years, first managing the Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside Libraries and is now the manager of the Pacifica Libraries for the past 6 years.