One of the Goal/Strategic Areas of the Board's Strategic Plan is Building/Facility issues. One of the objectives was a Facilities Plan. The Director wrote a Facilities Plan with input from community and the staff. The Library Board of Trustees approved that plan with the Foundation's input included on the last page. The Facilities Plan will be provided to architects that make a bid to prepare an architectural assessment or PAR (Preliminary Architectural Report) for the library.
The full Facilities Plan report can be read below or downloaded in a PDF.
The mission of the North Valley Public Library is to strengthen and support our community by:
fostering a welcoming and comfortable setting for all people to gather, explore, and discover;
promoting literacy and lifelong learning;
and providing exemplary programming, service and quality, timely materials.
Facilities Plan: Director’s Vision with input from NVPL staff
I have put together my ideas on what I think would be a good library facility for North Valley Public Library. My thoughts are based on the following:
Working at the Stevensville Library for almost 7 years and hearing patron feedback and complaints when our current facility did not meet their needs. Our current facility is between 6,540 sq. feet or 7,200-7,300 sq. feet, if one uses Google Earth for the measurement.
25 years of working at various public libraries around the country. Observing national library trends, what changes, what remains the same, and what works well in facilities and what does not.
NVPL’s current library users, their needs and wants. I am also attempting to use my expertise to predict what our community will need in a future library. However, I have tempered national library trends with what a more rural community needs and wants because not all national trends, which often apply to bigger cities, apply to Montana.
Covid-19 presentations on a healthy building.
PLA (Public Library Association) 2020 conference on what libraries are doing to transform services through their spaces. Expanding building spaces to offer what the community needs and wants now, and in the future.
Considering what is currently offered in the community, what is not offered, and should be offered.
Libraries are places to become informed citizens. They help create equality, social cohesion and inclusion, pathways to economic success, lifelong learning and fill the educational gaps, such as avoiding the summer setback. Libraries help to level the playing field and assist all people to become contributors to the economy.
Libraries have changed over the years and their function remains relevant and vital. Because of the internet, library staff answer fewer reference questions than in years past, but library staff assist patrons in interpreting and finding information. Libraries and library staff bridge the digital divide. Patrons use our computers to research and increase their knowledge. They are vital for patrons searching for jobs, updating and creating resumes, participating in online examinations and even interviews. Library staff need to stay informed about services in the community.
Libraries provide learning materials and internet access for patrons and are places where patrons learn hands-on life skills through makerspace labs and learn through a variety of other programs including workplace skills. Just as libraries previously housed a variety of reference books so people could find information that they could not afford to purchase on their own, or have the desire to store themselves, makerspace labs in libraries should contain equipment that patrons may want to access occasionally but are unable, or would not be worthwhile, to purchase on their own. Public libraries around the country have different equipment in their makerspaces depending on their communities. Examples of equipment or spaces or courses in public libraries makerspaces: Laser cutter and computers with vector design applications such as Adobe Illustrator, recording booths with recording equipment, hand tools, oil painting, MakerBot Digitizer 3D Scanner, MakerBot Replicator 2x 3D Printer, Arduino Uno board, Bristlebots, little bits, Tinkercad, Digital embroidery, small board electronics, vinyl cutting, chemical glass etching, screen printing etc. Libraries are places to create, not only to consume what is already created. Traditional library buildings are having difficulty accommodating newer services.
In our small rural community, the library serves as the heart of the community. We are considered a community center for many. The Town holds many meetings at the library, the Stevensville Historical Museum holds events in our community room, and many other Partner institutions. Unlike libraries in bigger metropolitan areas that take their service to others, our patrons and partners usually come to us. We need to continue to be a meeting place and center for the community. Libraries are a place for people, not just a place for books.
Maintenance to consider
When undertaking a new building or major renovation, maintaining and staffing it afterwards are part of the equation.
Our current library operates at a minimal staffing level. There are some shifts when there are only two staff in the building. A two-story building often requires different staffing levels.
Cleaning is currently minimally, three times a week. It would be great to have our current facility cleaned every night after we close but we have not done so to save money. Obviously, a larger facility would cost more to clean.
A new larger building will increase cost of cleaning and maintenance.
Air filtration. Increasing the volume of outside air that comes into the building is useful design.
From: Redesigning the Office for the Next 100-Year Flu (Yes, It's Coming)
One solution, according to Van Den Wymelenberg, is a different type of window design, already on the market in Europe that has a mechanical heat-exchange system concealed inside the sill. This allows outside air to be warmed or cooled, as needed, as it enters the building.
No toxins, no mold, and no asbestos.
Energy efficient & sustainable building.
High quality, low-glare, LED light, prefer reflected light if possible. Use of motion sensors in appropriate areas. Motion sensors are not good for staff work spaces or in areas where patrons are reading or studying as lights will go out on them.
Solar panels on roof.
0 carbon building
We currently do not have a facilities manager or a full-time custodian. As mentioned above we have limited cleaning. We cannot have complex management systems.
We need a fully ADA compliant building and would like to have spaces for additional accessibility such as a neurodiversity accessibility room.
Elevator needed if there is a second floor.
Windows and natural light for patrons and staff.
Strong floors: A minimum of 150 pounds of contents (live load) per square foot for shelves.
Fast Wi-Fi throughout the building & extending to outdoor spaces.
Highly wired for internet, and electricity. USB charging ports and electrical outlets at all the patron tables and seating areas. Tables are preferred by patrons to just seats. Dedicated fiber optic for all hardwired equipment. Library chairs that have power outlets and tables powered.
Adequate ceiling height: Most book shelves are high (typically 7' or 7'6"), and 8' ceilings are too low. Suspended up lights (the only satisfactory way to light small libraries) usually hang down at least two feet from the ceiling, so ceilings need to be a minimum of 10 feet high to keep the lights 8 feet off the floor. Most libraries do better with ceilings 11 or 12 feet high.
As mentioned, the current library is operated with minimal staff. Evenings, some mornings, and Saturdays there may only be two staff members in the library and one staff member will often be left for 30 minutes for a lunch break. In addition, even at times when more staff are scheduled other staff are busy doing programming, or they may be in a workroom, or office doing tasks that require concentration, or making phone calls. It is important that front line customer service staff can see the computer lab so they can assist patrons on computers. The teen area should be visible to staff. Staff should be able to see the front exit and be in an area to greet patrons.
If the library has a second level, staffing is something to be considered. A second floor may require additional personnel depending on what is on the second floor. At Chicago Public Library two-story branch libraries there was at least one staff member on each floor, which required more than two staff to be scheduled to cover lunch and breaks.
Clear internal arrangement.
Pleasant internal spaces. Comfortable spaces.
Parking for patrons and staff.
Outside book return.
Easily cleanable surfaces and floors. Something that muffles sound, waterproof, good for wheelchairs and those with issues walking. (Cork, rubber, vinyl plank?)
Design that reflects the natural world with water, stone, and woods and respects the history of the area including the Salish.
Beyond Basic Requirement
Areas to display art from community members.
Area for patrons to eat and drink, with used books for sale in an area with windows that can be locked, like a mini used book store in the front of the library.
Fantasy Requirements from Calgary Public Library (Not needed for our small rural town but fun to dream)
Performance Hall (2 years booked out)
Issues with our current facility besides it not being large enough
Asbestos (See asbestos report.)
Metal posts with shims installed from basement to ceiling to keep bowed ceiling from collapsing. (See engineer reports for what keeps ceiling and walls up.)
Uneven squeaky floors that will not support more shelves or allow for reconfiguration of shelves. (See engineer report.)
Upstairs can only be used as an attic and is filled with blown-in cellulose insulation. (See engineer report.)
The land behind the building slopes towards the building causing some rot in beams in the back of the library and water issues. There is no drainage at the back of the library that hooks up to the municipal storm drains. There is a dry well but since the land slopes towards the building the water that seeps into the soil is going downhill towards the building cellars and foundations, even if in the soil. The cellar had a huge amount of mold in it that we had remediated and the cellar lined, and am hopeful that the mold will not return but the conditions are ripe for it. In addition, the dry well may be damaged. In the past, I saw that the former Stevi Café was using it to dump their grease.
We lack room for the staff. Staff offices are assembled from bathrooms, are in the break room, and in the public area. Staff are unable to have conversations and do library business without being overheard by patrons, who sometimes become irritable and complain about having to hear staff.
We only have street parking and not enough spaces for staff parking in the back.
Our building is not fully ADA compliant and does not meet current building codes. ADA is supposed to be a starting point but we are not even at the starting point. Our exit out of the Montana room is not ADA accessible, with a 17” step up to ground level. I removed some shelves that were near the support poles so that wheelchairs could access our stacks, but we still have elderly and disabled people that will not enter the building because it is not safe. As mentioned above floors are uneven and the old rug poses a tripping hazard.
What we have now that needs to be improved
Larger Children’s Room (Current children’s room about 688 sq ft)
The library needs a much larger children’s room. Currently we are forced to weed books that we would rather keep to make room for new books. Patrons do not have enough room to be with kids. Patrons want places to read with their children and grandchildren. It gets crowded when more than one family is playing or interacting in the children’s room. The trend in children’s rooms is to have more interactive play areas. We do not have enough room for that and when other libraries have ordered interactive children displays to circulate amongst libraries we could not participate because we had no available wall space to put the interactive displays. The children’s room should also be closed off from the rest of the library because patrons complain on a regular basis about the noise the children make especially at play.
We do not have shelves the right height for children. We are forced to go high due to space limitations but younger children’s materials should be shelved on 42” and 66” high units.
An area to display children’s artwork would help to strengthen ties with the community and help promote programs at the library.
Some libraries put a play tree house in children’s room and have shelves with drawers on the bottom shelves to store toys which is an effective use of space.
Hauppauge Public Library has storage at the bottom of their shelves
Larger Community Room (Current community room about 1,120 sq ft)
We currently have three storefront buildings and we have done a wonderful job with what we have. However, we must limit attendance on our more popular programs due to the size of our meeting room. We want a community room that can hold up to 100. We had a dance program where the dancers and the audience could not fit. We had a mushroom program that was at maximum capacity and had to turn people away. A new community room should have easy access to a sink and running water. The room should be available for a wide variety of needs such as performances, talent shows, yoga classes, lectures, and hands on children’s programs etc. It should be easy to convert it from chairs with an audience to a classroom with tables, to a programming hall with stage. We used carpet tile in our current Community Room and people spill on it all the time. It has gotten dirty quickly. A floor made of something that muffles, is waterproof and easily cleaned.
Library community rooms are designed to be used after hours by the community so the room needs to be able to be cut off from the rest of the library. Outside doors, egress, and access to restrooms without access to the rest of the library facility needs to be considered. Another consideration needs to be elevators and handicapped accessibility. Access to a community room with a capacity of 100 may not be a suitable candidate for a second floor. The Community Room should have soundproofing. Currently, if there is a loud program in the room, the sound travels into the library area. If there is music playing, it can be heard in the library where patrons are browsing or working on the computers.
What we do not provide now and are lacking: Expanding services and accessibility
Small quiet soundproof rooms for 1-2 patrons
The library could use two small private soundproof rooms. The doors should lock so staff can reserve them and monitor their use. Small private rooms can be used for one-on-one homework, tutoring, interviews, quiet study, private consultations, neurodivergent. The rooms should be large enough to have space for a library computer and a laptop. Computers could be set up with skype, webcam, and other conference programs used by recruiters for online interviews. Business people can use as a temporary office. People often need places to make business phone calls or a confidential phone call with a bank or company. Patrons sometimes need to use a computer and be on the phone troubleshooting with a company. This makes it so they say their account number, social security, or credit card number aloud which is not secure for them. Long troubleshooting sessions disturb the patrons around them who are also trying to work.
Small private rooms could meet this need without disturbing other patrons. We are unable to meet this need in our current facility. We often have requests for private rooms for one-on-one interviews. At Chicago Public Library, they had a variety of such private small rooms that could be booked. They also had them at Grayslake Library. At CPL, the soundproof rooms could be used for practicing musical instruments and had walls that absorbed sound.
Medium Size Private Room for 3-15 for Collaborative Work
Bigger private room(s) glassed room for group study and group work. This is also often requested and we are unable to currently meet this need. Sometimes patrons use the Montana room for collaborative work but the Montana room is supposed to be the quiet area, which means those working collaboratively in the Montana room may disturb those that want quiet.
Quiet Company/Think Tanks
One of our biggest complaints is that our library is too loud. Some people need quiet but they also want to be at a library, reading or using our Wi-Fi because they prefer to work at a library rather than at home. A quiet area with tables for those that like to work and read quietly in the library is still an important function of a library. For the 24 years I have worked at libraries there are always people that like to use the library to read the paper, and work on their projects quietly for many hours. Some people prefer being at the library reading and studying than being at home. A fireplace in an adult reading area is at the Darby Public Library and Whitefish and would certainly be a nice touch in Stevensville, although not necessary.
We currently have no area for young adults. We have a young adult collection but not an area for young adults. Young Adults like to socialize and be loud. They often do not want to be directly supervised. The trend in libraries is to give them a soundproof glassed-in area. Due to my experience with teens in libraries, I would say this area should not be carpeted but easy to clean and allow teens to bring in snacks, which you should expect they might spill.
If we wanted to go high tech and had the funds to provide them with digital equipment to create, we could combine the teen area with digital media and the maker movement for teens to create: graphic design, photography, video, 2D/3D design, and recording studio. However, it would require additional funds and personnel to maintain and train.
The current shelving area for YA circulating materials is not large enough to hold books being read and we need to weed to make room for new purchases. In addition, more teens are reading graphic novels and manga and it would be nice to expand this section to allow for more options for the teens.
An area to display teen projects would help excite teens and garner interest for current teen programming.
It would be nice to have an office area for the Teen Programing Coordinator off the YA area to both help supervise the area and to meet the teens coming into the library.
The ideal YA space would have tables and areas for teens to hang out in a safe space where they can express themselves. It should have moveable chairs and tables that teens can move themselves.
Bulletin board pamphlet area for Teen Programing Coordinator to put resources that teens may not want to ask about on sensitive subjects such as hotlines and career paths etc.
Teen Zones: Study Zone, Alone, Collaborative Study, and Hangout.
Outdoor Space, Library Services from outside, & Parking
The library needs an outdoor space which is great for children’s science experiments, outside entertainment, or for staff to go for a break. The Bitterroot Public Library holds concerts outside their library and has an attractive space for patrons to sit and to use their Wi-Fi outside. Obviously, outdoor spaces also add to maintenance costs.
Drive-up/Walk-up service window installed. (Minimum: drive-up return of library materials)
Outdoor space as part of the library. Balcony, yard, outside patio, interior courtyard and outdoor furniture spaced out.
An area for patrons to sit under a roof canopy outside for using Wi-Fi and for attending programs. (See above)
Off street parking for staff and patrons. Parking lot essential and ability to access library Wi-Fi from patron's car.
Office space for staff
There are four “office” workstations in the current building and none of them are practical.
There is one office space behind the circulation desk which is noisy, making it hard to concentrate on tasks. All phone calls, trainings etc. can be heard by the patrons and the staff from the Director’s office so there is no privacy and disturbs the patrons.
There is a workstation in the staff break room next to the server.
The children’s office is a shared office between two staff members that cannot fit in it at the same time. It is a converted narrow bathroom.
IT (Information Technology) office also serves as storage area and is a converted restroom.
There is no office for an adult services position and the adult services person had to move from station to station and disrupted other staff and patrons when talking on the phone and arranging for presenters.
What we need:
Director’s office should be in a place that allows for quiet concentrated work, for staff reviews and meetings. It should be large enough to have a workstation for the director and a small desk for private meetings. It should also be large enough to keep file cabinets that need to be used often.
There should be a staff/technical services office that is not in the front of the library and not in the staff break room. Currently the room would need two computer workstations. One for the manager and one for another staff member or volunteer. There should also be a table or counter workspace to cover books, clean discs, and other processing tasks. Cleaning discs requires a sink. It should be large enough to accommodate other staff in the future. I anticipate in the far future that the library will require more staff than it does currently.
The children’s office should be large because it should have ample storage space so that children’s materials are not stored all around the library in every nook and cranny. It should be inside the children’s room. There should be cabinets to story all the materials needed for children’s programming that are not for the public. It should be large enough to also allow for preparing crafts inside the office rather than having to use the community room for prep.
Teen office should be inside the teen area. It should also be large with storage. There should be cabinets to store all the materials needed for teen programming that are not for the public.
IT area that is not used for storage of other library materials.
Adult services office should also have ample storage.
One of the challenges in our current building is lack of storage space out of sight of the patrons. We have storage needs for library supplies, office supplies and building and cleaning supplies. As mentioned above one of the biggest needs for storage is programming and that storage should be within the programming offices. General library supplies, office supplies, cleaning supplies, building supplies should be stored in areas most useful to those that need them. Hauppauge Public Library used their lower shelves for storage since it is difficult for patrons to retrieve and see the books on the bottom shelves. Bottom storage is good for patron materials such as toys, pamphlets etc.
Computer lab in a quiet area but close to staff for help
Our current set up for computers allows our staff to easily assist but we have many complaints about the noise from the front desk, patrons coming into the library and patrons able to concentrate. An area that is not so front and center for computers is needed. It needs to be designed so staff can easily help but not in a loud area. A room that is glass and soundproof enclosure where staff can easily help might work.
Front desk staff greet, assist, and workflow area
Front desk staff currently sit side by side at a modest circulation desk during non-Covid times. It would be better if staff were sitting in equally visible areas to patrons that need help but not so close to each other. Staff sitting side-by-side often leads to loud chatting. The library moved one work station during Covid but this is not ideal either because one staff member is now in the patron sitting area. Research on other libraries’ workflows would be helpful to determine what configuration would work best for front desk duties such as issuing cards, answering phones, greeting people coming into the library, shelving, helping patrons with printing and computers, and processing the crates of ILL (Interlibrary Loan) materials etc.
Makerspace Lab (Fabrication lab) & Art lab
We have a makerspace area but it is small. Makerspaces are for hands-on exploring and learning: art making, gardening, bike repair, engine repair, making Kombucha, 3-D printing projects etc. A lockable room with lots of organization space, and space for all the equipment and patrons. Some libraries have one for children and one for adults. Whether two makerspaces or one shared room for kids and adults would have to be determined. To use a makerspace for both an art room and electronic technology would require zones and barriers. Makerspaces need to have the correct wiring, ventilation, and plumbing for all the equipment that will be used.
For example if we offered pottery wheels and a kiln we would need proper ventilation including intake of outdoor air, preferably two sinks with faucet extension hose to eliminate lifting buckets in and out of a sink. Kilns should be in a separate fireproof room including fireproof floor and have masonry walls. “Electric kilns need good ventilation to remove toxins from volatile clay impurities and glaze ingredients…Art teachers in new buildings are complaining of inadequate ventilation in kiln rooms. In some cases fire alarms in the kiln rooms go off during kiln firing. To work around this they have to fire the kiln with the door open with a fan setting in the door. Obviously, this defeats the air quality advantage of having a kiln room.” https://www.goshen.edu/art/ed/artroom.html The dust from the pottery would need to be zoned away from the technology.
Below in color are the ideas on makerspaces for kids and teens from the children and teen programming staff:
Large 3-D printer hooked up to multiple computers (so projects could be sent and queued from several workstations)
Green Screen area (for gif making)
Photo Booth area (for taking photos of projects)
Industrial Strength Sewing Machine (for use of a variety of projects/finishing touches)
Crafting Areas with hot glue, heat gun, paper crafting tools, etc.
Lego Station (Kids/Tweens/Tactile Learners)
Playdough Station (Kids)
Screen printing area (would also need a darkroom with sink area for this - sink in a separate closet works)
Kid/Tween/Teen friendly Robotics Toys/Games/Kits (like the Makey Makey)
Laser Cutter or Etching (also good for adults and not offered elsewhere)
Lots of material storage with metal shelving at easily reachable levels.
Small Group Rooms (1-5 people) for introverts, meetings, small projects
Larger Group Room/Conference Room (1-20 people) with 30” x 60” tables with butcher block tops on casters, chairs/stools on casters
Sealed concrete floors in all spaces
Chairs/stools on casters
Folding tables on casters
Large fabrication areas with 30” x 60” tables with butcher block tops on casters
Storage units on casters for supplies and patron projects
Deep art sinks/3 compartment sinks
Patron gallery to display items produced in Maker Space
Peg wall for storing tools/materials/equipment
Offer the following equipment, materials, and services:
3D printer & 3D scanner
Large format color printer
Vacuum forming system
Computer controlled vinyl cutter
Basic hand tools
Culinary warming oven on casters
Culinary oven on casters
Culinary range on casters
Culinary refrigerator on casters
Culinary freezer on casters
Culinary equipment storage shelving (pots, pans, mixers, etc.)
20 or more design computers
20 or more copies of or licenses for Autodesk Inventor, Maya, 3D Max, 123D Make, AutoCAD software
20 or more copies of or licenses for Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat
Make Do Construction Kit
Magnet wall with Magnatiles
Lego wall with Legos
Pixel Peg Light Table
Food & gardening exploration
For the near future, the library’s physical collection should remain the same size, or even increase. The use of electronic materials by North Valley Public Library patrons is low compared with other libraries. The desire is still high in the NVPL community and surrounding areas to have a browsing physical collection. There are no bookstores in NVPL to browse and many people still use the library to choose materials rather than search for items online. However, being part of the Partners Sharing group and being able to borrow from other libraries allows us not to expand our collection much more over the current size. The NVPL library regularly gets compliments on its physical collection and attracts patrons from Bitterroot Library because patrons say Bitterroot’s collection is too small and that the NVPL library has a better selection of books and AV items.
Circulation of electronic materials (eBooks & audiobooks) per capita, comparison.
As one would expect the more metropolitan the area the larger percentage of electronic checkouts.
FY 2018 Electronic eBook & eAudio checkouts
Bitterroot 20,732 (.81 per capita)
Missoula 128,558 (1.17 per capita) Missoula has a service population 109,299
North Valley Public Library 6,941 (.67 per capita)
FY 2019 Electronic eBook & eAudio checkouts
Bitterroot 24,729 (.96 per capita)
Missoula 143,429 (1.31 per capita)
North Valley Public Library 7,305 (.71 per capita)
FY 2020 Electronic eBook & eAudio checkouts (This was a COVID year so increase expected.)
Bitterroot 26,949 (1.05 per capita)
Missoula 161,691 (1.48 per capita)
North Valley Public Library 8,100 (.79 per capita)
FY 2018 Physical Circulation
North Valley Public Library: 63,641
FY 2019 Physical Circulation
North Valley Public Library: 63,650
FY 2020 Physical Circulation (This was a COVID year so decline expected.)
North Valley Public Library: 50,064
However, it is possible in the farther future (50+ years) that collections may decrease, so the collection area should be flexible. Technology wiring for that area should be considered. Universities and new libraries often place tables along the perimeter of the collection area next to windows and have the collections in the middle free standing. If so, the tables should have proper lighting and a place to plug in electronics. Collection areas are often away from more noisy areas of the library.
The building should be adaptable. Spaces should be flexible so as patron’s needs and wants change, the library can transform the spaces for new tools and equipment. The building should not define or hinder potential new services and programs. Hauppauge Public Library has lite shelving on wheels that can easily be moved. They put most of their furniture on wheels so spaces could open easily. The library needs to be designed for future relevance and inclusive of all patrons that process information differently. Inclusive design includes community goals and needs, strategic planning, facility space planning, and service and program design.
Report written 11/2/2018
Updated 2/5/2020 and 3/10/21
Illustrations of current building issues:
Figure 1 & 2: The Library adult section with uneven floors, metal posts and shims to keep sagging the ceiling up. N. our sad looking OSB homemade shelves. The row of led lights often go out because the sagging ceiling ruins the connections.
Figure 3: This is looking towards the entrance at the homemade vestibule and metal posts keep up the ceiling.
Figure 4: Our sad sagging floor with duct tape over some of the rips.
Figure 5: The teen programmer illustrates that the back emergency exit is not handicapped accessible and not to current codes.
Figure 6: Children's programmer in her thin little overly stuffed office converted from bathroom.
Figure 7: The scary upstairs.
Foundation feedback on the Facilities Plan
The negatives of the current place:
---Comments from patrons (too noisy, not enough private space, etc.)
---Working conditions for the library staff and patrons (especially if there might be health concerns such as asbestos)
---The dangerous floor levels where someone could trip and fall
---Lack of a teen space
---No room to grow. Consider whether the present location could meet priority needs and also have room for growth.
And then the positives of what a bigger, better library can do:
---Greater book collection
---More Community space
---Teen space and quiet rooms/areas
---Perhaps less staff turnover because of a better work environment
---More storage space, which helps keeps things out of sight and more secure