Everyone has agreed; our public library needs to move. Our library is currently located adjacent to the town hall and for a few years, the plan was to expand the building on the current property. However, it has now been decided that even an expanded library would not meet the demands of the population we serve. So now comes the hard part…where do you move a public library? For the past year, I have attended numerous meetings to discuss possibilities for the new location of the library. Everyone has their own opinion of where the library should be built and essentially I have found that people’s ideas for the physical location of the public library reveals their psychologically view of where a public library fits in the community.
One popular idea is the construction of a cultural center that would group the public library together with an art gallery, historical museum, and café. This option demonstrates the cultural importance that people attribute to public libraries. I find this interesting, yet I wonder if these same people would be able to justify the cultural significance of our high circulation statistics of Harlequin and other romance novels.
Others think that the library should be built as an extension to the local high school which demonstrates that people consider the significant role of public library’s to be that of education. Opponents of this idea argue that a high school is not an inviting environment for library users who might have bad memories of their high school days and that some could be intimidated by the presence of groups of teenagers.
Others still believe that it is a question of pride and that a bustling town should have a stand-alone public library building directly on the main street of town surrounded by other services.
Where is the public library currently situated in your town/city? Do you believe that if your public library would move or be grouped together with other services that it would increase to decrease its circulation? If you had a clean slate and you could put your public library anywhere in your community where would it be built? What do you think this says about your vision of the role of a public library?