Building Literacy: Public Library Construction Podcast

COVID-19 has caused all of us to shift operations and services to meet the needs of those we serve, and, for the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, that means moving our in-person workshops and site visits to the digital realm. As such, we, the Construction Team, would like to introduce you to our new endeavor: the “Building Literacy: Public Library Construction” podcast, in which we will explore all topics relevant to the entire construction process.

The first two episodes replace our Sustainability Summit, a summit geared toward anyone seeking to incorporate sustainability into a major building upgrade or a partial or whole building project. In episode one, “Sustainability and Building Performance: An Interview with Building Evolution Corporation”, we talk with Building Evolution Corporation’s (BEC) Wesley Stanhope, BEC’s Founder and CEO, and Ken Neuhauser, BEC’s President, about practical steps you can take to plan for and implement partial and whole-building projects that achieve energy goals while not compromising on other aspects of building performance.

In episode two, “Designing for Sustainability: An Interview with Finegold Alexander Architects”, we discuss how architects approach the integration of sustainable measures within the design process to reduce energy load and usage and how it impacts project budgets in an interview with Finegold Alexander Architects’ Ellen Anselone, Rebecca Berry, Josephine Penta, and Beth Pearcy. We encourage anyone with even a thought of undertaking any building project of any scale to listen to these episodes, as sustainability goals must be identified early and remain a priority throughout the process.

The podcast is  also a response to substantial feedback we received about  our program. It was clear that stakeholders in public library construction projects are seeking as much in-depth information and as many mentorship opportunities as possible throughout the process. An interview-based podcast seemed like a logical mechanism in which to deliver these resources, as listeners can access the episodes as the topics arise in their own building project trajectory.

In future episodes, we hope to cover everything from advocacy and fundraising to what to expect a year after your new and improved public library opens. If you have questions stemming from an existing episode, specific topic suggestions for other episodes, or if you have participated in our program and would like to be interviewed for a mentorship and lessons learned episode, please contact Library Building Specialist Andrea Bunker at andrea.bunker@state.ma.us

In this podcast, companies and firms are and will be featured, sharing their expertise and knowledge with library building project stakeholders in an effort to create a better, more informed experience. In no way does the featuring of these companies or firms on this podcast constitute an endorsement or a promotion of those companies or firms by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. These interviews are meant to serve as an educational resource only.

A Must Read for Library Construction

By MBLC Library Building Specialist Lauren Stara

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is packed with so much good information that you want to share it with everyone. In this case, that means everyone who is planning a library construction project.

The Practical Handbook of Library Architecture: Creating Building Spaces that Work by Fred Schlipf and John A Moorman (ALA, 2018) is the book.

To be honest, it’s a little intimidating at nearly 1,000 pages, but don’t let that stop you. The authors are librarians who have decades of experience with library design and construction from the librarian’s point of view, and they’ve put it all down in black and white with humor and style. Chapter Two is entitled “More than Two Hundred Snappy Rules for Good and Evil in Library Architecture” – need I say more?

Topics run the gamut from the 10,000 foot view (overviews of the design and construction processes) to the granular (the wording for the plaque that goes in the lobby), and everything in between. There’s even a chapter called “Evaluating Library Buildings by Walking Around” that’s great for assessing an existing facility. You can see from the photo that I started flagging important passages, but after a few chapters I had to stop because I was running out of flags.

This is a book that former MBLC Construction Specialist Patience Jackson could have written, for those of you who know her. It’s the book I wish I had written, with a few minor exceptions – the information is unrelentingly practical, and I admit that my training as an architect rears its head at times. One example: the section on page 103 where the authors rail against what they call “designer staircases.” I do love a dramatic stairway.

You can download the Table of Contents and the “Two Hundred Snappy Rules” in PDF for free from the ALA Editions website. This is not an inexpensive book, but we are in the process of ordering two more copies to circulate for our professional collection. Contact Lauren Stara if you have any questions.

Keen Eye for Detail Sets Shrewsbury Apart

Shrewsbury’s revamped library held its grand opening on September 21. This renovation and expansion project made room for more computers, a new community meeting space, group meeting areas, and a courtyard adjoining the children’s room.

The new space configuration and furniture setup pays homage to the design details and charm of the historic 1903 building while also accommodating the needs of present-day patrons. Self-checkout machines, plentiful power outlets, and many options for seating – whether visitors want to read for hours, charge their devices, study, or just relax in front of the window for a moment – allow for customizable, user-centered experiences in the library.