Some of you are probably wondering why we need a 17,000 square foot library in Camp Verde. Do we really need that much room for books, magazines, movies, music and audiobooks? No, we don’t. Not for books, magazines, movies, music and audiobooks. And libraries, especially in rural communities like Camp Verde, are about a lot more than the stuff we keep on the shelves these days. Libraries are about people & space – space for people to access resources and technology otherwise unavailable to them, space where people can meet, relax, work, socialize, learn, and more.
Libraries are no longer the quiet places of our childhood. It’s unusual to meet a librarian who frowns disapprovingly while shushing you. And, as much as it may require a paradigm shift, people are what librarians care about most. Books, DVDs, computers – all that is just the stuff libraries have inside them for people to use. A book, magazine, movie or computer only has value when a person uses it. When people interact with the stuff in libraries or with one another there is noise. Some people are okay with the noise while others need a quiet space to think or work. The library we have designed has separate rooms for quiet study/concentration and other places where people can linger, talk and laugh.
Inside our 17,000 square foot building is about 5,100 square feet of space positioned strategically throughout the building where people can gather for library/community-sponsored events or for personal reasons. These dedicated spaces are in addition to the spaces scattered throughout the library where people will sit to enjoy the view, read a newspaper or just contemplate life. You will see a computer commons area where people can work together or individually on our PCs or their own mobile devices with easy access to help from library staff.
At Camp Verde we’ve noticed that many of our computer users come in pairs, one person helping another. Two people trying to use one computer is awkward in our current setup. It’s crowded and someone is usually in the way. So, we’ve designed space at our computer tables so two chairs can be pulled up to one computer. Granted, it takes more room to make this work right, but the space is designed for people, not people for the space.
A program room with kitchen facilities, theater-like equipment and access to restrooms on the first floor adjacent to the Children’s Library will be used for weekly story times, summer reading program activities, movies, special events and much more. This room can be closed off from the rest of the library to keep the noise contained and allow use of the space even when the library is closed. Directly above it on the 2nd floor is another large open area that can accommodate programming or a co-working space with access from the outdoor observatory. This is another large meeting space that can be closed off from the rest of the library for scheduled afterhours programming. Individual study rooms on both levels allow people who need quiet a place to find quiet. A Business/Conference room will double as a space where learning labs can accommodate students, computer training, guest presenters, etc. We have room for a co-working space that supports small businesses needs through access to training and educational resources at ASU Skysong. On the 2nd floor is room designed to double as CVLE’s used book sale and a creator space or place for discovering technology like, Lego Mindstorm and content creation opportunities. Another room will be available for book clubs, writer’s groups and many other uses for which people need space to meet. We’ve created space in the Children’s Library tucked back in a corner near the family restroom where people with babies/toddlers can visit, relax, and interact with each other and their kids. The Teen Library is designed with mobile shelving so the space can be used in a variety of ways, from leisure time to after school tutoring and college/work prep workshops, for starters.
There are other important features we want to duplicate while improving at the new library. People use our outdoor patio to plugin laptops and use free Wi-Fi even when the library is closed. Locals appreciate the shaded setting with flowers, plants and access to water for their dogs that often accompany them. Visitors appreciate the ease with which they can logon to our Wi-Fi. The outdoor patios designed for the new library protect entrances from sun and rain while adding more space for people to enjoy Camp Verde’s beautiful weather and views while accessing library resources. Some people are just outdoor people preferring to read or sit outside.
The Children’s Library includes a fenced outdoor patio right out the north door with an interactive space for children/families. The vision here is to provide a learning/play space that allows us to take our love for children and literacy right outside the library walls while keeping them in a safe space. Not all children are designed to sit inside. Rezzonico Park next door, the Verde River right here, and the addition of the observatory inspire many ideas about how to incorporate outdoor space into our children’s programs. From learning about the environment and water conservation to healthy living and community engagement opportunities for kids, we see inspiring children to love reading/learning going way beyond story time.
And, oh, yes! We have not lost sight of the fact that we are a library and many people still enter our doors looking for something to read, view or listen to. We will be adding approximately a third more shelving units throughout the library, concentrating expansion in areas where library materials are circulating the most like movies and a variety of materials for ages 0-17. New books and DVDs will be near the entrance for quick access. Self-help holds and self-checkout stations will allow people in a hurry to get what they need without waiting in line. A staffed welcome desk in the spacious lobby will accommodate people who like to visit with volunteers or librarians the space to do so without obstructing the entrance. More than anything else, Camp Verde’s new library is a designed with people in mind, because a library sitting empty is just as useless as a book sitting unread on a shelf. Our monthly traffic counts and circulation statistics show that Camp Verde people are using their library’s materials and space.
Lastly, respected library standards, such as Wisconsin Public Library Standards, for calculating space needs show a community the size of Camp Verde should already have a 17,000 square foot library in place. Plugging conservative numbers into the calculations worksheet and including space for people, PCs and programs puts us in a building slightly over 17,000 square feet. We are not only planning for growth but also playing catch-up in both space and technology. Camp Verde’s new library project, so thoughtfully designed by Architect, Joel Westervelt, has the built-in versatility that allows us to simultaneously catch-up to where we ought to be while allowing for future growth in a world of evolving library services.