Sunday, January 28, 2007

Defining the Need: Facility Space

Earlier this month, we reminded readers that the existing library building was designed to hold an estimated 120,000 volumes when it was built in the 1970’s, but we now find ourselves in 2007 with current holdings of over 182,000 items. Without doubt, the most pressing need for our library as we look to the future is additional facility space to house new and existing materials as well as provide adequate room for reading programs, children’s activities, and special community events.

To illustrate the need for a larger facility, consider the data contained in the comparison chart below. Several nearby suburban communities are included in the chart along with the size of their respective public libraries as measured in square footage. As you can see at a glance, the existing Carol Stream Library is smaller than every other library in the comparison. Several nearby facilities have two to three times as much floor space as we currently have available, even though the populations they serve are similar in size to the current population of Carol Stream.

Visual evidence is the best way to assess this critical space shortage. Take a few minutes to walk through the stacks and you will see immediately why more space is needed now and in the future. The images below show a very common problem--patrons and staff workers unable to see or reach books that must be kept high on the top shelves because no other room is available. Shelves in both the adult and children’s section of the Library are packed to capacity, including the top and bottom shelves that are very difficult for some patrons to reach.

The cover article of the recent “Between the Lines” library newsletter offers some bleak prospects for the future of materials and services that many patrons have come to expect. “Some collections, such as VHS tapes and CD-ROMS will be eliminated…other collections will be housed in areas not accessible to the public…The Community Room may be closed and Library programming curtailed.”

The need for additional space has reached critical proportions already, and the issues relating to the overcrowded conditions will become more difficult to manage in years to come if more library space is not created. Carol Stream residents can show their support on April 17. We encourage all residents to visit the Library, become familiar with the current space needs, and vote “yes” on the referendum question in April.

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