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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

MPLCP Library Building Programs: Existing Building

Patience says:

This description of existing conditions could be written by a trustee or other volunteer with a flair for stating things succinctly and in a readable fashion. Describe the building's physical condition, including such things as lack of handicapped access, roof or water problems, wiring conditions, energy factors, and less than ideal space utilization...[D]escribe how these physical plant problems inhibit or even endanger good library service.

Analyze the building you have

Even the most cramped and worn-out library has good qualities.

Conversely, the newest and finest have flaws. Remember this. No building is perfect.

It's important that you bring the best of the old into the new, and jettison as many negatives as possible. Think about the questions below -- and perhaps use them as the basis for a community or Building Committee workshop:

Take a hard look at your current facility and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do you like about the exterior? The interior?
  2. What would you change?
  3. How do people use (or adapt) the space?
  4. What works?
  5. What doesn't?
  6. What about the location on the site? The location of the site in town?
  7. What do you have that you don't need?
  8. What do you need that you don't have?
  9. What has your staff been doing without for years?
  10. What else is needed to support your community well?
  11. What could make your library truly exceptional?

Another tool to help you analyze your existing building is the downloadable questionnaire below.

Do you know what you're missing?

While you're analyzing your building, visit as many libraries as possible, especially recently-constructed or renovated ones that are similar in size and context to yours. Ask the director for a tour; scrutinize everything. Ask the staff what they love and what they wish they'd done differently. Take notes and photos. Learn from their mistakes! A list of MPLCP funded projects from the last 10 years can be downloaded below.