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  • By Lisa Brody

Library to debut design, wayfinding changes

Following a strategic plan process, a new roof, lobby floor, interior design plan which includes a new Commons area and wayfinding, the Bloomfield Township Public Library is ready to throw open its doors and celebrate with the community on Saturday, March 14, the completion of these projects. The free event, open to the public, will include brief remarks and simple refreshments starting at 9 a.m. Carol Mueller, library director, said the projects began in 2015, when the board of directors began a strategic planning process that included planners speaking to more than 400 residents as well as key stakeholders to find out what they needed to focus on. Among other items, a rejuvenation of the roof began in August 2019 and was completed in November 2019, she said. “That was a priority as we had leaks in the center of the library, as it was original roof in that area, since 1987,” Mueller said. Another issue the library had been dealing with for four years was the library's lobby floor, which had deteriorated down to the subfloor. “There was no tile left in some places – it was just dust,” Mueller said. The library board studied numerous surfaces and substances, and finally settled on natural limestone for its endurance. “The lobby can get over 1,000 visitors in a day,” Mueller said, noting the limestone flooring should last 30 to 40 years. Patrons had pointed out to staff over the years that it was difficult to find restrooms in certain areas, so wayfinding was an issue they sought to solve, as well as adding and changing the seating in areas. “At peak times, there were not enough seats – we had people sitting on the floor,” Mueller said. A decision was made, following space and needs assessments, to relocate the media collection and reimagine the resulting space to meet a variety of needs, such as studying alone and in small groups, meeting with other community members, as well as reading in a comfortable spot. The library board chose architect Jim Mumby from Quinn Evans and Geraldine Drake from AECOM to lead the board and staff through a repurposing of the space. “One idea was to move the collections back to their original respective collections – the adult services and youth services – we did that last May of 2019,” Mueller said. The resulting area became the new commons space. In summer 2019, the space was used to test several different furniture pieces. “We brought in various furniture that patrons tried out and they voted on which they liked for which uses,” she said. Drake led library staff and trustees through the design process to create a vision statement and, ultimately, a layout of the ideal warm and welcoming space. “It was important to library administration and trustees to include library users and the community in this process. Together we developed ways to collect feedback and used it to select the types of furniture you see today,” Drake said. “We were very pleased with the way this feedback led to the current design.” The commons space adds 73 new seats in various configurations, including booths, tables, pods, and a built-in bench. Dozens of easy-to-access electrical outlets were also installed in the area. “That is what we are celebrating, along with the roof and the new lobby floor,” Mueller said of the March 14 event. “And to thank patrons for their patience and patronage.”

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