MEIJER BRANCH RENOVATION/EXPANSION PROJECT FACTS
April 10, 2013
1. Why is the Jackson District Library renovating/expanding the Meijer branch?
Built in 1983, the Meijer branch has become the busiest branch in the Jackson District Library system, next only to the Carnegie Library in downtown Jackson. There have been no additions or modifications to it since it was first built. It has no dedicated space for hosting library events such as story times for children, yoga lessons for seniors, and concerts for young adults. The library staff currently rearranges the furniture and collections in the children’s area to accommodate these special events, causing disruption to library users and program participants. Several events during the library’s Summer Reading Program routinely attract more than 100 attendees. There is also a lack of computers for public use and no space to expand collections in the several formats that are available today.
Residents from all over the county use this branch because of its proximity to the highway, retail stores and fast food establishments. The Meijer branch is open 7 days a week and also serves patrons from several residential communities adjacent to the branch and students from area colleges.
Over the past 30 years, there have been significant changes in public libraries and how residents use them. Public libraries have now grown into community destinations, showcasing the latest in information technology. We plan to incorporate some of the latest trends in public library services and space planning in this renovation/expansion project. All spaces are designed to be flexible and adaptable to accommodate future needs, evolving technologies and changing user expectations.
The Jackson District Library Board of Trustees believes that the renovated/expanded Meijer branch library will become an exciting community destination for Jackson County residents of all ages and be a source of great community pride.
2. What are some of the unique features of this renovation/expansion project?
The existing branch of 5,200 sq. ft. will be completely renovated. The project also features a new 8,500 square foot addition which will include the following exciting new features:
- Community Room with kitchenette and seating capacity of up to 200 for community and library events
- Family zone where parents and young children can learn, play, imagine, and discover in a safe and comfortable area
- Wi-Fi hot spot for patrons with mobile devices
- Friends of the Library store for used books and other merchandise
- Cozy reading areas, including a fireplace
- After hours material pick up and drop off
- 23 computers for public access
- 2 Quiet Study areas for tutoring and individual/group study
- Dedicated spaces for tweens/teens/adults
- Expanded parking
- Expanded collections
- Media Studio with computers and software that will enable users to creatively express themselves through digital videos, music, photography, websites, graphic design, podcasts, presentations and other forms of digital media.
3. When will work begin on the project? And when is it likely to be completed?
Construction is expected to commence in May 2013 with an anticipated completion date of March 31, 2014.
4. Will the library be closed during construction?
We will endeavor to keep the library open as much as possible during the construction period and will work closely with the contractor to inform the public well in advance of any likely closures. Patrons will also be directed to other branches of the Jackson District Library system during periods of any closures.
5. Did the community have an opportunity to provide feedback on this project?
Residents provided feedback to the library board at two community forums during the initial visioning process. We will also post updates on the project at www.myjdl.com
and social media sites.
6. Some people say that libraries are going away, so why expand now?
We want to state emphatically that libraries are not going away. They are, in fact, transforming themselves into vibrant community destinations, offering the latest in digital collections and information technology, and becoming even more relevant to our users. Just take a look at our 2012 numbers:
- 909,165 items checked out by residents – highest in 25 years!
- 196,556 computer users - highest in 8 years!
- 258,611 uses of our premium databases for homework/research – highest in 9 years!
- 128,787 digital downloads (electronic books, music) – twice as many as 2011!
In January 2013, we eliminated usage fees for checking out DVDs and video games. We are delighted to report that in the first quarter of 2013. DVD checkouts increased by 133% and videogames by 26% over the same period in 2012. Checkouts of all print and electronic materials are up nearly 22% for the same period. Digital downloads in the month of March 2013 were the highest since we started offering this service to Jackson County residents.
As long as libraries continue to innovate and provide high quality customer service and stay continually engaged in our communities, we will continue to thrive.
7. How will the library pay for this renovation/expansion project?
The library will use funds from its reserves and also seek contributions from the general public. The library will not seek funding through a bond issue or millage to finance this project.
8. How much will the total project cost?
Based on what we know so far, we anticipate that the total project cost (including construction, technology, furnishings, etc.) will be approximately $2.7 million.
9. A few years ago, the library sought an additional millage to sustain operations. How were you able to set aside funds for this project?
Through a combination of strong board governance and prudent spending, the library system has been able to augment our reserves over the past 5 years for this exciting project. We are very pleased to report that this fiscal discipline has allowed us not only to sustain basic operations, but also to invest strategically in the latest technologies and digital collections that our patrons are expecting from us.
10. What is your message to the Jackson community?
We are deeply grateful to the community for its strong support to us during these difficult economic times. We will continually strive to exceed community expectations and provide the best library services possible.
11. Why is it important to invest in this project at this time?
We want to provide residents in Jackson County with a state of the art public library that will inspire them to discover, learn and succeed! We believe that this project will be a strong economic stimulus to Jackson County and provide local contractors, vendors and suppliers with business/employment opportunities collectively funded by community residents.
12. I am interested in making a donation to this project. What opportunities are available?
We are pleased to report that the library has received two major monetary gifts in recent months that have been dedicated to this renovation/expansion project. We also deeply acknowledge our gratitude to the late Fred Meijer, founder of Meijer Inc. who donated the land on which the original branch library is built.
In the coming weeks, we will announce several ways in which residents will be able to invest in this project. This will range from contributions for specific collections, special furniture items, technology, as well as naming opportunities to honor the memory of a loved one. Please watch the July/August issue of our newsletter for more information.