Friday, October 23, 2015

David and Goliath Libraries

By Michael Goldman, co-founder with Deborah Marks of Citizens for Sunnyvale Parks and Green Spaces

Deborah Marks is also leader of Sunnyvale Urban Forests Advocates

There are over 1100 libraries in California.  Here's a Tale of Three Libraries.
If you're a fan of David vs. Goliath stories you'll love this one.

Click on Photo to Enlarge

Here's beautiful downtown Fresno, population 520,000 - three and a half times Sunnyvale's 149,000.
Fresno Skyline - Click on Photo to Enlarge
Their main downtown library (below) is 82,700 square feet with 267,000 volumes and a circulation of 330,000.
Fresno Main Library - 82,700 sq. ft.  - Click on Photo to Enlarge
The very attractive Woodward Park neighborhood library (pictured below) has 22,000 sq. ft. (about one fourth the size of their main) and only about 90,000 volumes (about one third as many as the main library) but circulation is nearly Double at 610,000(!) the circulation of the much larger main library.
Woodward Park 22,000 Sq. Ft. about 1/4th the Main's  - Click on Photo to Enlarge
90,000 Volumes, 1/3rd the Main's - Click on Photo to Enlarge
Circulation 610,000 - Nearly Double the Main's! - Click on Photo to Enlarge
Square feet is clearly not a big deal at least in terms of getting books into people's hands.

But wait - it gets better!  The "Fig Garden Library" below is in rented space in a strip mall.  It TOO has much larger circulation than the main library downtown.  Fig Garden Branch circulates 405,000 books vs the 8X larger main's 310,000!!
Can you find the 10,000 sq. ft. library here?  (And Where's Waldo?)
Happy Librarians with 123% the Circulation of the Big Main Library 
 10,000 sq. ft. Branch Beats 82,000 Sq. Ft. Main
Here's the library - in front of the Ace Hardware store.  No (expensive) underground parking needed.
This little 10,000 sq. ft. library - one eighth(!) the size of Fresno Main - with one fourth the number of books (63,000) - hidden away in a strip mall, between an Italian restaurant and an Ace Hardware store - circulates over 20% more books than the main library downtown.

Fresno Main Library
82,000 Sq. Ft.
Woodward Park
22,000 Sq. Ft.
Fig Garden Branch
10,000 Sq. Ft.

In terms of library usage, the narrative is NOT "Let's all get in the family van and go to the library".  It is "You're going to Ace Hardware?  Could you pick up Mary, she walked there to work on a science project with Jennifer.  And get a Dr. Seuss book for Timmy's story time."

There are many, many more examples like this I will cover in another post.

In terms of serving the community, size doesn't count!

Source for library info:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Library of the Future" 144K SF Buildings

By Michael Goldman with Deborah Marks, co-founders of Citizens for Sunnyvale Parks and Green Spaces

Deborah Marks is also leader of Sunnyvale Urban Forests Advocates

The 2007 Library "Needs Assessment" concluded Sunnyvale needed a library of 143,500 square feet and that it would cost $108M to build such a library and 15% more to achieve LEED Platinum for a total of $124M.  The $108M bond issue was for a 116,000 SF library which could be expandable to 143,500 SF.  They could have scrapped the LEED Platinum part and just built the 143,500 SF library since there was no mention of size or LEED requirements in the bond issue on the ballot.

C.f.  "Council directed the Core Team to explore numerous aspects of the recommended Facility Strategy, including: Provision of a building between 133,500 and 143,500 square feet in the new facility"  from page 5 of:

Or, in the PDF document at the link above, search (ctrl-F) for "143".  There are 10 references to 143,500 SF.

I searched on the internet for images of 143,500 square foot libraries and other buildings. Here are some I found that weren't obscured by trees or buildings.  Links to articles verify that they are 143,500 sq. ft. (or close).  If they look too big for Sunnyvale's Civic Center that is because they are.  They are huge!  They are also much, much, less expensive than the $108M-$124M Anderson Brule Architect (ABA) recommended in 2007.  I have also looked at other similar-sized buildings and libraries here:

1.  American Alliance One building in Raleigh, North Carolina is 145,000 square feet.  The project was completed in 2014 for $38M which includes a 523 car parking deck (visible in upper right of first picture).  The office building is 5 stories.  The top is 30,000 square feet while the lower floors lose some floor space to stairs, lobby space, etc.
American Alliance One Building - Click to Enlarge
American Alliance One Building  - Click to Enlarge
Links for Alliance One Building:

2.  Bryn Mawr Medical Pavilion.  Philadelphia, PA  LEED Gold; Total cost = $32M; 147,000 sq ft., built in 2011.
Bryn Mawr Medical Pavilion - Front - Click to Enlarge

Bryn Mawr Medical Pavilion - Back - Click to Enlarge

3.  Grand Valley State University:  Allendale, Michigan.  Mary Idema Pew Library. Four floors, 150,000 Square Feet so 4.5% larger than 143,500.  LEED Platinum; Total cost = $65M.  Built in 2013.  This is stunning - do yourself a favor and click on the photos to enlarge the photos and fully appreciate it.  It fits well in a university.  On Sunnyvale's Civic Center it would be overwhelming.  (Some of the photos are "squeezed" by the web software so click on the photo to get a realistic view.)

GVSU Pew Library - Click to Enlarge
GVSU Pew Library - Click to Enlarge
GVSU Pew Library - Click to Enlarge

GVSU Pew Library ("squeezed" by web) - Click to Enlarge to proper proportions

Study "cubby holes" in wall
Lobby - Click to enlarge

Green Roof for outdoor study - Click to enlarge
Automated retrieval

Aerial View Shows Green Roof on upper left
"The facility contains complex HVAC systems that have been optimized for energy efficiency including underfloor air distribution, demand controlled ventilation, radiant floors, enthalpy recovery wheels, a flat plate air-to-air heat recovery unit, wrap-around heat pipes, condensate heat recovery, and high-efficiency mechanical equipment."

Lots more great photos here:

4.  Griffin Hall, Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY.  134,000 square feet so only 94% of the planned 143,500 Library of the Future but about the size of the minimum asked for by the City Council in 2007.

Griffin Hall, Northern Kentucky University 134,000 Sq. Ft.  - Click to Enlarge
The next photo is a little "squeezed" by the web page software so click on it to enlarge it and get a more realistic view:
Griffin Hall, Northern Kentucky University - Click to Enlarge
In the Aerial view below you can see the "green" roof plantings on part of the building.
Aerial View - Griffin Hall, Northern Kentucky University - Click to Enlarge (virtual tour)

See more on library size at:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

CA Cities Like Sunnyvale & Their Libraries

By Michael Goldman with Deborah Marks, co-founders of Citizens for Sunnyvale Parks and Green Spaces

Deborah Marks is also leader of Sunnyvale Urban Forests Advocates

We keep hearing that since Sunnyvale is growing, we need to get a library suitable for not just our current population (149,000), but for a 36% growth to 200,000 in 2040.

Let's look at CA cities with the same or larger population as Sunnyvale's up to our maximum projected size of 200,000.  Sunnyvale's library fits in very well.  Our main library is roughly the same size as those in many of these cities, but they build branch libraries to extend services.  Neighborhood branch libraries that people (especially kids) can walk to, do wonders in getting books to people that need them the most while creating enjoyable, walk-able neighborhoods.

Our current library is 60,000 square feet.  ABA says we "need" a single 144,000 square foot library.  A 144,000 square foot library would be the 6th largest in the state.  Here's a photo of one that size in Tampa, FL
John K. Germany Library in Tampa, FL - Click to enlarge

Much more on that and other large libraries here:
Following are all 16 CA cities with population between Sunnyvale's current 149,000 and projected 200,000 - plus Fremont.  Only one has total library space even close to the 144,000 sq. ft. ABA says we "need".  Analysis at the end.

  1.  Torrance (Pop. 149,000)  One main and four branch libraries.  Their combined size is very big for a city it's size as we will see in looking at other libraries.
72,400 + 7,200 + 4,400 + 3,973 + 3,973 = 91,946 SF
Main Library - 72,000 Square Feet - click photo to enlarge

  2.  Escondido (pop. 150,000) 

Three libraries: 40,000 SF + 14,000 SF + 3,700 SF  = 57,700 SF.
Escondido Main 40,000 Sq. Ft.  - click photo to enlarge
The smallest library is a reading room adjacent to the main library.

  3.  Pomona (pop 153,000) has one library of 57,000 sq. ft. built in 1963
 click photo to enlarge

  4.  Hayward (pop 155,000) One new main and one branch:
57,000 + 8,600 = 65,600 SF
Artist's rendition of 57,000 Sq.Ft. Hayward library open Oct. 3rd, 2015 - click photo to enlarge

  5.  Salinas (pop. 157,000) A main and 4 branches (including county libraries with Salinas address):
Steinbeck Main Library 28,845 SF + Cesar Chavez 10,565 SF + Buena Vista (co-located with middle school) 7,200 SF + Prunedale Branch 3,800 SF + El Gabilan Branch 3,343 SF = 53,753 SF
John Steinbeck Public Library in Salinas - click photo to enlarge

Buena Vista Branch Library - Shared with Middle School - Salinas
  6.  Palmdale  pop. 158,279  One main and one branch: 12,790 + 4,250 = 17,040 SF
Click photo to enlarge

  7.  Lancaster   pop. 161,043 One library  48,721 SF
Lancaster Public Library - Google "Street View"  - click photo to enlarge

  8.  Corona   pop. 161,486  One main and three branches:
62,300 + 14,100 + 10,000 + 10,000 = 96,400 SF
Aerial View of Corona Main Library  - click photo to enlarge

Main Library "Street View"  - click photo to enlarge

  9.  Elk Grove   pop. 163,553  Suburb of Sacramento with no main and two branch libraries:
19,621 + 13,850 = 33,471 SF
19,621 Sq. Ft. Elk Grove Library Branch

10.  Ontario   pop. 169,089  One main and one branch: 58,000 + 14,800 = 72,800 SF
Ontario CA Ovitt Family Community Library - click photo to enlarge

11.  Santa Rosa   pop. 174,170  Part of the Sonoma County Library System.  One main and three branches:  61,800 + 15,000 + 7,840 + 4,288 = 88,928 SF
Sonoma County Main Library in Santa Rosa - 61,800 Sq. Ft. - click photo to enlarge

12.  Rancho Cucamonga   pop. 174,305  Two equal sized libraries:
23,000 + 22,500 = 45,500 SF
Archibald Ave. Library - click photo to enlarge
Paul A. Biane Library sharing building with City Cultural Center - click photo to enlarge

13.  Oceanside   pop. 174,558  One main and two branches:
32,000 + 12,500 + 1,054 = 45,554 SF
Oceanside's Gorgeous Main Public Library - 32,000 Sq. Ft. - click photo to enlarge

14.  Garden Grove   pop. 175,078  Three branches:
21,484 + 5,279 + 5,279 = 32,042 SF
Civic Center Library - click photo to enlarge

15.  Santa Clarita   pop. 181,557  One main and two branches:
30,100 + 23,966 + 17,000 = 71,066 SF
Street View of Newest branch - click photo to enlarge

16.  Glendale pop. 200,167  One large main and six(!) branches:
92,000 + 21,000 + 13,510 + 6,452 + 5,267 + 4,923 + 2,190 = 145,342 SF
"Street View" of Main Library - 92,000 Sq. Ft. - click photo to enlarge
Aerial View shows how large main library is.  "Street view" showed only upper right corner.

That covers all the California cities with population between Sunnyvale's current 149,000 and potential future of 200,000.  Since Fremont city is in the SF Bay area and a number of people have seen their main library, we skip over the next six CA cities by size to look at Fremont.  And find its main library not much different from Sunnyvale's.

17.  Fremont pop. 228,758   One main and three branches:
68,532 + 6,000 + 5,760 + 2,152 = 82,444 SF

Most of the front hidden by trees.  This entrance is a small part. - click photo to enlarge

The entrance in the previous photo is seen here in the semi-circle on upper left side.  Only the area in the red square is the library.  The rest is County Library Administration Offices


Of the 17 cities in California covered, Sunnyvale's total library space is larger than that of nine.  Only 8 (less than half) have larger total library space than Sunnyvale.  Only 5 have larger main libraries than Sunnyvale's (60,000 sq. ft.) and usually by a very small amount.  Only 2 cities out of 17, Torrance and Glendale, have main libraries larger than Sunnyvale by more than 15% (i.e., bigger than 69,000 Sq. Ft.).

With a 17,000 square foot branch library, we would have more library space than 4 out of the 17 library systems in the cities surveyed - all of which are more populous than Sunnyvale.

In other words, if we are in some sort of competition to have the largest library facilities among cities up to 200,000 population, we could "win" with a small addition to our current library and building two to four branch libraries.  By the way, if we win this competition, do we get a prize?

Here is a summary of our data - population of city, total library square feet for city, and SF (square feet) per person.

Total population of cities surveyed = 3M, Total library size = 1.2M SF, Avg. SF per person = 0.384. 

To keep our current square foot per person of 0.405 with a population of 200,000, we would need a total library size of 81,000 sq. ft.  We could get that by adding a branch library or two to add 21,000 square feet to our existing main of 60,000 SF.

We could match Glendale's total of 145,000 sq. ft. of library space with a 30,000 SF addition to our current library and a bunch of branches - like Glendale's.  That would also beat Santa Clara, on a square foot per person basis, for what it's worth.

Before we indulge our inner cheerleader let's build some branches (maybe jointly with schools) to get the books to people (like kids) that need them.

We're Number 1! In square feet per person!!  If anyone cares!
Population info from:
Library info from:

ABAG's growth projections here: (search for "Sunnyvale")