The Milwood Branch of the Austin Public Library is one of the busiest in the city and is bursting at the seams to accommodate an ever growing population in the area.   It was never built to its planned size and it shows.

However, there is plenty of land for expansion and the city should prioritize the expansion of this branch into a regional hub for the next bond election.  Our part of Austin up north has NO civic space aside from the tiny meeting room at the library, and the creation of full library/cultural center along the lines of the Carver Library is something the residents of our area deserve and have been dreaming about for a decade.  A place we can have candidate forums, art exhibits, and enough room for books and meetings.

The residents are ready to help with planning efforts immediately to get things rolling, we just need the city and the Friends of the Library to get onboard and put this on the bond referendum.

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Austin Public Library almost 6 years ago

Proposition 6 of the City of Austin 1992  G.O. Bond Election called for an 8,000 square foot branch library to be built in the Milwood area.  The bond language further specified that sufficient land be acquired for this project to allow the building to be expanded to 15,000 square feet and that the original 8,000 square foot building be constructed so that it might be readily expanded  to 15,000 square feet at some future date.  The Library Department  fully complied with the wishes of the voters in these matters and opened the 8,266 square foot Milwood Branch Library to the public in 1997.

Along with a number of other infrastructure renewal projects, the Library Department has requested that a thorough renovation of the popular Milwood Branch Library be considered for funding inclusion on the ballot of the next City of Austin G.O. Bond Election, a referendum currently being discussed as a possibility for 2012.  The Library Department has made the renovation of the Milwood Branch Library a priority because more than a decade of heavy use of the facility by the community has completely worn out its finishes, furniture, fixtures and equipment.  Moreover, this branch library has plumbing problems which we would very much like to correct during the renovation process.

The Library's long range plans, as defined in the 2003 Austin Public Library Facilities Master Plan, include the construction of four Resource Libraries , one in each quadrant of the city and each standing at least 30,000 square feet in size.  Expanding strategically located branches to at least 30,000 square feet would provide facilities which could support surrounding clusters of smaller libraries and offer larger collections, technology centers, dedicated program space and meeting rooms  for use by the community.  Due to the size of the Milwood site, it has been mentioned  as a possible location for the Resource Library to serve the Northwest quadrant of Austin.  The  Library Department will endeavor to include the funding for Resource Libraries in future bond elections, but  our most pressing concern that we hope to be addressed by a potential bond election in 2012 is the renovation and retrofit needs of much of our existing inventory of properties, including the Milwood Branch Library.

 

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Javier Bonafont almost 6 years ago

Thank you for Library staff in responding.  It would seem on the face of it that performing a "renovation" on a property that may be entirely redone, or worse, torn down, to accomodate the much larger Resource Library would be a wasteful short term expenditure unless the renovation were COUPLED with a planning/design process that addressed the expansion of the library.  We all know how long these design processes take, so please let us start that NOW, including some funding in the bond election to take the project through at least the initial design phase that can determine if and how the existing structures can be used in the larger concept or if they will need complete demolishing and this can help guide any renovations in a long-term context.

As a short-term solution to the crowding issue in the MIlwood Library, I have proposed in the past and discussed with Library staff installing a portable building (like a classroom portable used by AISD) on the grounds to use as the Meeting Room facility, and opening up the current meeting room for general library use.  The meeting room is a vital service, BUT it does languish unused for a lot of the time and it is unnecessary for it to be physically attached to the main building.  An adjacent building for meetings with a key checkout system at the front desk would be a relatively inexpensive way to add valuable square footage to the main library floor and would be easily removed when larger expansion comes around.

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Jc Jc over 5 years ago

The branches are closed one day a week, the Central location has cut back on their hours.  How do you propose we PAY for this portable building?

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Javier Bonafont over 5 years ago

JC:  I don't see your point.  we pay for it with bonds, grants or taxes like we do everything else.  Its an undisputed long term plan to increase the capacity and use of this library, so we just need to figure out the best path to get there in the shortest and most cost efficient way.  The portable building while we go about the long range planning of a new building is my proposed solution, what would yours be?

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Tom Rhoden at June 18, 2017 at 11:08pm CDT
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