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Guidelines and Procedures for Approval of New Library Construction

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This document revises and supersedes the Guidelines and Procedures for Approval of New Library Construction originally adopted by the B&ECPL Board of Trustees in 1996 and reaffirmed (with amendments) in 1999.

In 1990, the B&ECPL Board of Trustees imposed a system-wide moratorium on new library construction. Unfortunately, it proved an ineffective means of managing library building projects within Erie County. Consequently, in April 1996, the Board adopted Guidelines and Procedures for Approval of New Library Construction. The process outlined in Guidelines has been a valuable tool for evaluating proposed projects and ensuring an open, cooperative partnership among communities seeking to construct new libraries, the B&ECPL and the County of Erie.

In November 1998, the B&ECPL Board of Trustees received a strategic planning report entitled, The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library in the Third Millennium, which contained observations on B&ECPL's infrastructure and recommendations for new and/or expanded facilities throughout the County. The Board's final strategic plan, issued in December 2000, Expanding Horizons: Directions for Superior Public Library Service in Erie County, incorporated elements of The B&ECPL in the Third Millennium and included a directive to review and modify Guidelines as a target for 2001.

This latest version of Guidelines remains fundamentally consistent with its predecessors, including the following standards:

  1. Final approval for any project rests with the B&ECPL Board. Project proposals that are not approved by B&ECPL will receive no financial, technical or professional support from B&ECPL. The annual contract supports this.
  2. In an era of static revenues, any construction or expansion project has a system-wide financial impact. The Board cannot approve any proposed project that might enhance the quality of library service in one area at the expense of service in another. Each project must be expenditure neutral (when adjusted for inflation) in the context of B&ECPL's overall operating budget.

    The B&ECPL encourages and welcomes projects that reduce operating costs while improving library services to Erie County residents.
     

  3. Contract Libraries must receive project approval from the B&ECPL Board of Trustees prior to introducing local referenda, presenting bond issues to the electorate or submitting applications for publicly funded grants.
  4. To ensure the measure of coordination necessary for a successful construction or expansion project, the Contract Library must report its intentions in writing to the B&ECPL at the earliest opportunity. Two-way communication throughout each phase of the project is essential.
  5. Libraries must be strategically located. The following factors must be considered: economic and demographic trends, proximity to existing service outlets, public transit and/or major transportation routes, population density in any proposed service area, and geographic isolation.
  6. New facilities should be designed to serve regions rather than municipalities, resulting in higher levels of service (e.g., more hours, better resources, enhanced technology) for more Erie County residents.
  7. As library service within the City of Buffalo is subject to the statutory authority of the Board of Trustees of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (which has enacted these provisions) library construction projects within the City of Buffalo as well as those introduced by Contract Library Boards and/or municipal governments are subject to the terms and conditions of this document.

GUIDELINES FOR NEW LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION

I. BACKGROUND

While the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library's Board of Trustees acknowledges the need for improved library service in various areas of population growth or residential development, the Board must weigh many factors before it formally approves any expansion, new construction or the replacement of inadequate facilities. Some of the costs associated with such projects must be borne by local municipalities or as a regional cooperative of municipalities, but certain expenses traditionally borne by the System (personnel, books, equipment, utilities, etc.) might divert funds from other areas of the county.

Since 1953, The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Board has determined the priority of capital projects within the Library System. It is essential that the integrity of this policy be honored if we hope to preserve equity of service and operations. State and local statutes support this position.

With limited funds, derived largely from the County of Erie, the B&ECPL must support a network of more than fifty separate facilities throughout the City of Buffalo and the outlying cities, towns, and villages of the county. When this System was established nearly fifty years ago, its purpose was to provide equitable distribution of library service to all Erie County residents regardless of location, income, political affiliation or any other qualification.

Attempts to unilaterally augment library service in any community without the endorsement of the Library Board subverts the Board's legal authority. Concepts such as regionalization or innovative funding strategies must be explored in order to avoid imposing undue burdens on the entire System. The Board cannot approve any proposed project that might enhance the quality of library service in one area at the expense of another.

II. GENERAL GUIDELINES

To ensure the measure of coordination necessary for a successful construction or expansion project, the following guidelines will be observed:

  1. When a Contract Library or municipal government begins to consider the possibility of new construction, the B&ECPL Board and Director must be notified in writing. This communication occurs at the earliest possible opportunity to encourage cooperation and coordination from the conception of a project to its completion.
  2. The Contract Library or municipal government must base the need for a new or remodeled facility upon review of current service objectives, careful assessment of the current building, future community needs and the broader issues of regional service delivery and B&ECPL System priorities. (See Appendix A.) A basic demographic and economic trend analysis of the proposed project's service area is required and must address the relationship of the proposed project to other B&ECPL outlets used by its primary clientele.
  3. The construction of a new library facility is the responsibility of local or regional authorities. The ongoing operational costs of approved projects are assumed by B&ECPL.
  4. Contract Libraries or municipal governments must receive project approval from the B&ECPL Board of Trustees prior to introducing local referenda, presenting bond issues to the electorate or submitting applications for publicly funded grants.
  5. The B&ECPL Director advises the County of Erie of any intent to initiate a construction project. All three participants (B&ECPL, the Contract Library or municipal government and Erie County) must agree to support the project.
  6. Since the B&ECPL Board provides general oversight for all construction projects, the B&ECPL Director or designee must be closely involved in site selection and construction matters. The B&ECPL Board must approve any proposed site. (See Appendix B.)
  7. The Building Team consists of the B&ECPL Director or designee, the Contract Library Director (where applicable), as well as representation from the Contract Library Board of Trustees (where applicable), local governmental authorities, the staff and any consultants engaged for the project.
  8. Preparation of the building program is the responsibility of the Contract Library or designated B&ECPL staff in the case of a Buffalo facility. The B&ECPL Director or designee must have input in the development of the program plan with the B&ECPL Board providing final review. Click here for a generic building program with guidelines (PDF: 162KB / 15 pages).
  9. The B&ECPL Director or designee presents to the B&ECPL Board a schematic design and a fully developed architectural plan as each of these phases is completed. The B&ECPL Director continues to apprise the B&ECPL Board as the bidding process and construction process advance.
  10. Any proposed project must successfully demonstrate that its operation will be expenditure neutral (when adjusted for inflation), imposing no additional, cumulative burdens on B&ECPL's operating budget.

III. STANDARDS OF ORGANIZATION AND SERVICE

Before any construction proposal may be considered for approval, a library must:

  1. Be a member of the B&ECPL System by virtue of a signed annual contract or a local library subject to the governmental authority of the B&ECPL Board of Trustees.
  2. Meet the minimum standards for hours of service established by the New York State Commissioner of Education (Commissioner's Regulation § 90.2) and such additional standards as may be established by the B&ECPL.
  3. Meet the staffing requirements established by the Commissioner (Commissioner's Regulation § 90.8), the New York State Civil Service Commission and the County of Erie.
  4. Meet other minimum standards of service as established by the Commissioner.

IV. STANDARDS FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

  1. Location of the library is of primary importance. (See Appendix B.)
    1. A site should provide the greatest accessibility and visibility for the majority of population to be served.
    2. Demographic trends must be examined to determine the impact of future growth on site selection.
    3. Libraries must be strategically located. The following factors are of primary importance:

      Proximity. Within practical limits, a new library should not be situated where its service area duplicates or infringes on the service area of an existing facility. Acceptable distance between facilities will vary in urban, suburban or rural service models based on population density and geographic isolation.
       

    Population Density. Generally, as the density of the population increases, a library's service area decreases.

    Geographic Isolation. In a county-wide service area of more than 1,000 square miles, geographic distance must be considered in determining optimal site locations.

    Transportation. Libraries should be located on or near public transit and/or major transportation routes, increasing accessibility for all Erie county residents.

  2. Building size must be adequate for present and future space needs.
    1. In order to provide effective public service and afford the flexibility to incorporate new technologies, the minimum size of any proposed new construction is 8,000 square feet. Table appears below.
New Library Construction Parameters - Guidelines
New Library (square ft.) % 8,000 10,000 12,000 16,000
Minimum site size*   .75 acres .92 acres 1.1 acres 1.5 acres
Optimal non-assignable space 20.0% 1,600 2,000 2,400 3,200
Circulation 2.5% 200 250 300 400
Reference (Including OPAC-only stations) 5.0% 400 500 600 800
Adult 35.0% 2,800 3,500 4,200 5,600
Children 15.0% 1,200 1,500 1,800 2,400
Young Adult 2.5% 200 250 300 400
Staff Areas 10.0% 800 1,000 1,200 1,600
Meeting Rooms 10.0% 800 1,000 1,200 1,600
Special Use** N/A** N/A** N/A** N/A** N/A**
      • *Based on 4 square feet of land per 1 square foot of building (single level); Lee B. Brawner & Donald K. Beck, Jr., Determining Your Public Library's Future Size (Chicago: ALA, 1996), 95.

        Recommendations vary.

        A minimum of 1 to 3 acres was recommended at Managing Library Building Projects, the LAMA Preconference to the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA (2001).
         

      • One acre equals 43,560 square feet
         
      • **Special use space (e.g., computer training lab, auditorium, Café, etc.) may be incorporated into a library building. Such space would be subtracted from other allocated space(s).
    1. Parking should be convenient and adequate for local needs.
       
  1. Planning and Technical Requirements (for new libraries or expansion projects which will have an impact on B&ECPL resources).
    1. Plans for new construction, renovation or expansion projects must be reviewed by a qualified architect. It is recommended that the architect be a member of the American Institute of Architects.
    2. A project which involves major remodeling, enlarging or the acquisition of an existing building must result in a building that is equivalent to, or a satisfactory substitute for, a new building.

      A statement from a registered architect as to the structural soundness and the suitability of an existing building (whether now serving as a library or not) for remodeling or enlarging will be required.
       

    3. All projects must demonstrate full compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

V. CRITERIA FOR APPROVAL OF A PROJECT

In certain cases, a proposed project may vary from the following criteria. Any variance should be identified and accompanied by a statement that explains or justifies that variance.

The following method will be used to evaluate and prioritize projects:

  1. Administrative Procedure.
    1. Plans for all projects must be submitted to the B&ECPL in writing. This includes:
      • "B&ECPL Library Building Project Application"
      • Building Program for the project
      • Service Plan
      • Demographic Analysis
    2. Projects are reviewed by the Building Advisory Committee which consists of staff designated by the B&ECPL Director, as well as one director representing Contract Libraries, one trustee representing the B&ECPL Board, and one trustee representing Contract Libraries. Each group selects its own representative. The Building Advisory Committee will provide a preliminary response to the application within 45 days.
    3. A project proposal with a recommendation from the Building Advisory Committee will be sent to the B&ECPL Director for review. Within 45 days of receipt, the Director will present the proposal to the B&ECPL Board of Trustees for consideration.
    4. The B&ECPL Board will accept or reject proposals within 60 days of their presentation by the B&ECPL Director. The Board's decision will be forwarded in writing to the appropriate parties within 10 days.
    5. Appeals may be submitted to the B&ECPL Board of Trustees in writing.
  2. Guidelines for establishing priority ranking of projects. The committee will give preference to projects that...
    1. Serve a region rather than a single municipality, resulting in improved levels of service. Such improvements should include: increased hours of service (particularly weekend and evening hours), adequate collection size, enhanced technology, etc.
    2. Show evidence of sufficient capitalization to furnish the new facility.
    3. Demonstrate that their operation will be expenditure neutral (i.e., imposing no new financial burden on B&ECPL operating funds when adjusted for inflation). A comprehensive funding analysis that determines long term operating needs is required. Such an analysis must be comprehensive to the extent that it examines operating revenue projections to be generated from the identified service area and from the project's proposed clientele. Projects that propose to improve service and reduce costs are highly encouraged.
    4. Demonstrate good layout in area relationships, efficiency in operation and workflow, and flexibility for adjusting to future needs.

VI. CONDITIONS FOR FUNDING

Project proposals that are not approved by the B&ECPL Board of Trustees will receive no financial support as specified in the Annual Contract:

NINETEENTH: If the "Public Library" intends to request the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library to provide funds for equipment, book collections, and increased operating expenses for a new or expanded building, the "Public Library" shall consult with the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library concerning site, size, floor plans, design and equipment. Failure to receive prior approval in such matters shall relieve the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library from any financial obligations in the provision of equipment, library materials, and operational costs for said new or expanded "Public Library's" building.

Further, failure of the Contract Library or municipal government to receive B&ECPL approval for any project relieves the B&ECPL of any obligations in the provision of professional or consulting services and such technical or material support as may be requested for the project.

B&ECPL will not approve any grant submittals for state or federal construction funds for projects that have not been evaluated and approved under the preceding "Guidelines and Procedures."

B&ECPL will cooperate with Contract Library or municipal government representatives in identifying and procuring appropriate grant, capital or related funding for those projects which B&ECPL has determined will offer greatest benefit to county residents.

Appendix A - Evaluation of Current Library Facilities (PDF: 37KB / 1 page)

Appendix B - New Library Site Selection / Evaluation (PDF: 56KB / 3 pages)

Appendix C - Generic Building Program with Guidelines (PDF: 162KB / 15 pages)

Revised and Approved, B&ECPL Board of Trustees, April 18, 2002