Central Library Project
graphics from our 90th birthday celebration
A new Central Library in Arlington will offer a facility built to accommodate the changing ways that people learn, find information and engage in community activities. Rather than serving as a warehouse for books, the new Central Library will be an interactive facility where users not only find the information they need, but they can put that information to work and create new products and tools with it.
Today’s libraries are designed to be much more flexible than 40 years ago, allowing for easy adaptation to changing ways of use. As a result, a new library will likely accommodate our needs for much longer than the current one has.
The plan for the services provided by a new library comes from the input received from citizens over the last 4 years regarding what is wanted and needed from Central Library services.
- maximize facility usage through sharing multipurpose spaces
- make the most efficient use of funds
- serve as a catalyst for further downtown development
Central Library FAQ
Create computing areas not rooms with increased use of laptops – requires power everywhere
Q. Why do we need a new building; the old building seems just fine?
A. Looks can sometimes be deceiving. A recent facility assessment identified major sources of concern with the current building that cannot be fixed without significant expense. And merely remediating those deficiencies will not result in a facility that can provide efficient and effective service to 21st century library users.
- The current plumbing system consists of galvanized steel pipes that are heavily corroded and deteriorating at an increasing rate. Building closures have already been necessary to repair pipe failures.
- The library was built in an era when asbestos was commonly used in many building materials. While the presence of asbestos isn’t a concern during day to day use, it complicates repair of issues, as well as any renovation.
- The current elevator does not fully meet ADA specifications and suffers from frequent failures, requiring extensive downtime which complicates access to the upper and lower floors of the building.
- Libraries have changed greatly in the last 40 years. When the Central Library was built, many activities (such as computer use) were not anticipated. The current building design does not lend the flexibility needed to efficiently and effectively staff and operate a library in the 21st century.
“She never gave up,” said Dalton, who watched Gutierrez over the years come to classes at Arlington Reads, arriving early and often staying late.
Q. I thought that libraries weren’t going to be needed any more since everyone has the internet at home?
A. Despite the rumors that libraries are no longer needed, the Arlington Public Library is alive and well! In 2013:
- Over 1,425,000 visits were made to a public library in Arlington (more than 350,000 to Central)
- Over 2 million loans of books, music, movies & other material (410,578 from Central)
- Over 1.1 million web page visits were logged
- 307,594 in-library internet sessions were initiated (102,673 at Central)
- 737,647 wireless sessions connected (341,775 at Central)
- 8,564 new cardholders signed up at the Central Library in 2013
- 26,989 literacy contact hours (ESL, GED, Reading Corps, and family literacy) took place; in calendar year 2013, 68 adults achieved their GED with the Library’s help!
- 2,591 AISD Pre-K students participated in a class visit to the Central Library
- 29,989 hours of volunteer time was donated to the library
In addition to this strong local evidence, nationwide more people seem to be engaged with their libraries. According a recent Pew Institute report the vast majority of Americans ages 16 and older say that public libraries play an important role in their communities:
- 95% of Americans ages 16 and older agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed;
- 95% say that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading;
- 94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community;
- 81% say that public libraries provide many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere
Expanding school-age (ages 6 to 12) learning through books, technology , interactive & creative activities.
Q. What will a new Central Library do for me?
A. As Arlington’s Center for Learning, the Central Library offers a unique facility where learning for all ages, family enrichment and civic interaction come alive! The new library will offer:
- An interactive center of learning for Arlington’s children
- Enhanced space and services to prepare Arlington’s teens for bright futures
- Literacy and workforce development resources that strengthen Arlington
- Arlington’s catalyst for learning, meeting and gathering
- A center for celebrating Arlington’s cultural diversity as well as for collecting and sharing Arlington’s history
The current library building is approximately 63,000 square feet. The new building is planned to be approximately 80,000 square feet. A significant amount of space in the current building is unusable for public activities due to the building’s design, so the actual gain in square footage for public space is much more than merely the 17,000 square foot increase.
Flexible spaces equipped with presentation technologies, wireless access, teleconferencing
Q. What will the new building do for citizens that the old building was not able to?
A. Almost everything about our services will be improved in some way, but here are some highlights:
- Children’s Services: The Children’s Department, supporting youth from birth through age 12, will be enlarged and zoned into areas for separate age groups (0-4, 5-8, 9-12), including age appropriate collections and furnishings, as well as interactive and manipulative activities and technology. Special focus will be given to the early literacy area in order to support the Library’s focus on school readiness. A dividable programming room will be included in this area.
- Teen Services: A larger, dedicated area for teens will include ample space for library materials, study lounge and computing space, as well as small group study rooms and a digital creativity lab with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) focus.
- Meeting spaces: Community gathering and civic participation spaces will feature a small vending/cafe area, multiple small group study and tutoring rooms, two larger conference rooms and a dividable multi-purpose meeting/classroom space. All meeting spaces will be equipped with Internet access and presentation technology. Opportunities to create outdoor gathering spaces, such as a rooftop garden or reading terrace will be explored, dependent on final design options.
- Technology: The public technology area will include desktop computers and wireless seating areas, as well as spaces that offer the opportunity to experience, learn about and utilize new technologies. The number of desktop computers may not increase appreciably, but spaces for laptop and mobile device users will be enlarged and made more convenient for use. The area will include a variety of printers and scanners, as well as a fax machine.
Continue to collaborate with local history organizations including the Fielder House Museum, UT-Arlington’s Special Collections and others
- Literacy: A dedicated literacy programming space will contain a computer lab, classroom and small group tutoring space. Arlington Reads program staff will be relocated from the leased Literacy House facility to the Central Library. A quiet reading room will be provided where small group conversation and audible technology are not permitted.
- Genealogy/Local History: A dedicated space for local history and genealogy will provide expanded space for materials, display areas, computers dedicated to genealogy research, as well as lounge and study areas.
- Self-Service and efficiency: Convenient “supported self-service” opportunities will be provided for locating resources and information, downloading electronic content, checking materials in and out and using credit/debit cards to pay for fines, fees and printing. An automated materials handling system will provide increased efficiency in checking in and sorting returned materials and ideally restore recently returned items immediately to a public area for maximum availability. An outdoor kiosk for picking upheld material after-hours, as well as a drive through book return will be explored as well, dependent on final design options.
- Bookstore: Space will be allocated to the Friends of the Arlington Public Library for a small used book store area that would be staffed when open by Friends volunteers.
Creates an opportunity for new local small business or expansion of existing business
Q. Why are there plans to move the library from the current location?
A. The Library won’t be going far. The planned location for the new building is right across the street, just to the north of City Hall and adjacent to the Arlington Museum of Art. It will feature a shared meeting facility that will also function as City Council chambers, as well as shared outdoor space for meeting and gathering. The new location makes efficient use of City of Arlington owned land in the downtown area and is anticipated to serve as a catalyst for additional development in the downtown area. Ample parking for increased visitors is planned.
Q. Does this mean the old library will be able to stay open until the new one is built?
A. No, because the library project is part of a larger private development that will be taking place on the library’s current block that will be of great benefit to downtown Arlington (and to the library too!), the library will be relocating to a temporary facility while construction of both projects are in process. The temporary location has not yet been determined. All materials will still be accessible to patrons. Construction time is estimated at approximately 2 years for both projects.
Q. How do we know a new Central library will be used? Maybe Central Libraries are a thing of the past?
A. There is ample evidence to believe the number of people who will be drawn to a new central library in Arlington will increase:
- When St. Cloud, Minnesota built a new central library in 2009, visits went from 173,833 per year in the old building to 532,792 in 2009, a 206% increase.
- Seattle, Washington watched their visits go from 659,364 in their old facility in 2003 to 2,048,138 in 2008, up 211%.
- Des Moines, Iowa went from 170,018 visits in 2006 before opening their new central library to 577,724 in 2009, a 240% increase.
Q. How do I express my opinion on what should be included in the library or ask a question?
A. Please watch for a survey link on the Library’s website (arlingtonlibrary.org) very soon that will allow you to ask questions or express an opinion or idea. Keep in mind that the main components of the new library have already been developed through the visioning process, but as finer details are worked out, we want everyone to have a part in this project since it is YOUR library!
- Locations & Hours
- Central Library
- East Arlington Branch
- Lake Arlington Branch
- Northeast Branch
- Southeast Branch
- Southwest Branch
- Woodland West Branch
- Literacy House
- LibraryLiNK Outreach
- Meeting Rooms
Arlington Central Library Vision
As Arlington’s Center for Learning, theCentral Library offers a Unique Facility where Learning for All Ages, Family Enrichment, and Civic Interaction Come Alive!
History of the Project
Beginning in January of 2010 we solicited public input by way of focus groups, public surveys, public meetings, stakeholder and staff interviews to determine what the future of Central Library services should be. We also conducted a thorough review of our current facility to determine its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re new to this project, please be sure to browse the information below for work that has been completed over the last four years.
Stakeholder Kickoff meeting
December 2009 – May 2010
Complete the assessment of the current facility
Facility Assessment Executive Summary - Spring 2010 (PDF, 78 KB)
December 2009 – September 2010
Conduct public meetings, gather library service usage and collection data, hold stakeholder interviews, survey the public to create the Vision Statement and Program of Service.
Central Library Visioning Survey - June 2010
November 2010 – December 2010
Finalize Vision Statement and Program of Service
Our consultants, Providence Associates, collected library data, surveyed Arlington residents, held public meetings and conducted stakeholder interviews. This process resulted in a vision for Central Library Services to be shared with the community before finalizing it and moving on to the next step of matching up the building with the vision.
Present Vision Statement and Program of Service to City Council
January 2011 – October 2011
Determine facility needs for achieving the vision, estimate costs and draft a funding plan for moving forward.
November 2011 – December 2011
Present facility options and costs to the public and narrow options to finalize future plans
21st Century Downtown Library - November 2011
Results From Our Survey - December 2011
Final Central Library Visioning report presented
North Texas Low Impact Development Design Competition - The Arlington team is challenged with conceptually designing a property with the potential of meeting the vision for the Central Library as part of Arlington’s Civic Center while incorporating LID techniques, reducing impervious cover, promoting infiltration, reducing stormwater pollution and reducing long-term maintenance costs.
Fall 2012 – 2013
As directed by City Council Community & Neighborhood Development Committee, COA staff explored a wide range of options and strategies for a new or renovated Central Library facility, using the results of the completed study.
Options & Estimates (PDF, 1.8 MB) Contains diagrams and cost estimates detailing three options with pros and cons of each. The illustrations and costs estimates were produced by Perkins+Will and are not architectural renderings. They purposely were of a very generic nature.