The county library system wants to provide the services and programs a growing and changing community will want, but new buildings aren’t part of that plan.
By creating a new long-term plan, the goal is to determine the current and future needs of the community and how the county’s system of libraries can best address those needs, library board vice president Todd Bemis said.
Over the next several months, the library expects to spend no more than $150,000 to hire a consultant to study multiple aspects of the county library system, from maintenance and repairs needed for its buildings, to the growing population of the county and surveying residents to find out what they want from their library system. That study will help develop a long-term master plan of how the library system should grow and change in the next 10 to 20 years.
The study isn’t intended to lead to a large-scale expansion or construction project, Bemis said. The last time the library had discussed a building project was in 2012, when a referendum to build a $29.9 million library in downtown Franklin failed.
“We’ve already played that game,” he said.
The study would instead look at how to use the space at the current library branches most efficiently, what improvements they will need in future years and if they are offering the services and programs people want.
“We’re trying to be good stewards of our buildings,” Johnson County Public Library Director Lisa Lintner said.
Lintner cited the Trafalgar library built in 2007 as an example of a facility that is prepared to adapt when its community grows. Space inside the building is re-arrangeable and can be adjusted to meet the changing needs of the community.
The study will look out how the county’s population and demographics will change in the coming years and what services those residents will need from the library, Lintner said.
Changes could include adjusting the types of programs the libraries offer, the number of computers they have available to the public and how they allocate space.
The goal is to do what is best for Johnson County’s residents, not just mirror what other library districts in the region are doing, Lintner said.
Public involvement will be key to making the study successful, Bemis said.
The six-month study would have many opportunities for the public to be involved and give input ranging from surveys and questioners to community meetings.
The price tag for the study is the high end of what the board may agree to pay, Bemis said. The board could consider narrowing the scope of the project to lessen the cost. The project would be funded with money leftover that was borrowed in 2009.