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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

2023-2024 Grant Round: Planning & Design Phase: The Committee's Duties

Who does what?

Roles: The Library Facility Needs Committee (or whatever yours is called) is an ad hoc committee of the board of trustees. It works within the parameters defined by the board and works with the director to achieve goals.

The outline below illustrates the distinction between the various roles:

  • Board of Trustees
    • Is the legal authority
    • Votes on recommendations
    • Accountable to community
  • Library Facility Needs Committee
    • Is a board subcommittee
    • Reports to & makes recommendations to the board
  • Library Director
    • Is the Committee/Project Coordinator
    • Answers to the board

What are they supposed to do?

The committee does the legwork that makes it possible for them to make informed recommendations to the library trustees. The trustees have the legal authority to make legal decisions regarding the project. Committee members will work with the library director to conduct the following:

Pre-Planning Activities

These activities are prior to application for Standard Grants and post-award for Small Population Grants.

  • Hire a library building consultant (if desired) to conduct a needs assessment and contribute to the library building program
  • Visit as many recently-built libraries as possible in order to educate themselves on library trends and innovations
  • Receive the needs assessment data and discuss how the information will affect major aspects of the project
  • Research all viable locations and choose at least two for the future architect to analyze
  • Receive the draft building program and edit or request additional data if necessary
  • When completed, present the building program to the trustees for approval

Planning and Design Activities

These activities are post-award for both Standard and Small Population Grants.

  • Issue the RFP/RFQ for the Owner's Project Manager and supervise the bidding process
  • Recommend the preferred candidate to the trustees
  • Work with the OPM to issue the RFQ for the architect and supervise the bidding process
  • Recommend the preferred candidate to the trustees
  • Negotiate fees with the architect and execute the contract
  • Oversee schematic design process to the MPLCP Level of Design
  • When completed, present the MPLCP Level of Design to the trustees for approval

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

This is an excerpt of an article from American Libraries, Sept./Oct. 2013. It was written by Peter Gisolfi, the architect of the vibrant Darien, Connecticut library.

Successful libraries are designed collaboratively...It’s a process that requires listening to every voice with a stake in the outcome and establishing a clear set of goals and paths to meet them.

The first step is to form a building committee that represents various constituencies: political representatives of the wider community, the library board of trustees, the professional staff, frequent library users, interested citizens, and donors. All have vital ideas and opinions.

The design process involves analyzing the physical and cultural setting for the building, preparing a program of space requirements, establishing clear objectives for the project, and preparing and critiquing a series of alternative design approaches...The collaboration is time-consuming and rigorous. It moves forward, but its iterative nature may slow it down. This is to be expected and is ultimately worthwhile. As the project evolves, the architect, the building committee, and outside constituencies gradually move to a plan that satisfies everyone.

This process works. When successful, the library belongs in its physical and cultural settings, reflects the objectives and values of the various constituencies linked to the project, and is integral to the community and the citizens for which it was designed.