Building Literacy: Public Library Construction

Designing Libraries for a Pandemic

August 20, 2020 Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Construction Team Season 3 Episode 1
Building Literacy: Public Library Construction
Designing Libraries for a Pandemic
Chapters
Building Literacy: Public Library Construction
Designing Libraries for a Pandemic
Aug 20, 2020 Season 3 Episode 1
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Construction Team

In this episode, we convened a roundtable of architects from several of the firms who design buildings for libraries that partake in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. Each firm tackled a topic related to designing libraries amidst a pandemic, including circulation patterns, furniture design, small vs. large rooms, exterior spaces, flexibility vs, separation, safety and security, bathrooms, HVAC, and longterm impacts. We ask this esteemed and knowledgeable group to discuss changes they are considering given the most up-to-date information available. It is important to note that information about COVID-19 and its transmission and behavior is ever-evolving. The discussion of safety measures in this episode are based on research and guidance up until August 4, 2020. We cannot know what further pertinent information will arise in subsequent weeks, months, or years, but we do hope to do an updated episode on this topic in the late Fall or Winter.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for other episode topics, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we convened a roundtable of architects from several of the firms who design buildings for libraries that partake in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. Each firm tackled a topic related to designing libraries amidst a pandemic, including circulation patterns, furniture design, small vs. large rooms, exterior spaces, flexibility vs, separation, safety and security, bathrooms, HVAC, and longterm impacts. We ask this esteemed and knowledgeable group to discuss changes they are considering given the most up-to-date information available. It is important to note that information about COVID-19 and its transmission and behavior is ever-evolving. The discussion of safety measures in this episode are based on research and guidance up until August 4, 2020. We cannot know what further pertinent information will arise in subsequent weeks, months, or years, but we do hope to do an updated episode on this topic in the late Fall or Winter.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for other episode topics, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

Andrea Bunker :

Welcome to Building Literacy: Public Library Construction, a podcast for librarians, trustees and local officials who are exploring or undertaking a renovation, expansion, or new construction project for their library. My name is Andrea Bunker.

Lauren Stara :

And my name is Lauren Stara. And we are the library building specialists who administer the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, a multi-million dollar grant program run by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which is the state agency for libraries.

Andrea Bunker :

While this podcast is Massachusetts-focused, Stakeholders in library building projects everywhere may find helpful information within these episodes. From fundraising and advocacy campaigns to sustainability and resilience to the planning, design and construction process, there is something for everyone. If there is a public library building project topic we have not covered but that is of interest to you. Please email me at [email protected]

Lauren Stara :

Or me at [email protected]

Andrea Bunker :

On this episode of Building Literacy: Public Library Construction, we convened a roundtable of architects from several of the firms who design buildings for libraries that partake in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. The topic? Designing libraries amidst a pandemic. We asked this esteemed and knowledgeable group to discuss changes they're considering given the most up-to-date information available, as well as how this experience will impact public library design for the long-term. It is important to note that information about COVID-19 and its transmission and behavior are ever evolving. The discussion of safety measures in this episode are based on research and guidance up until August 4, 2020. We cannot know what further pertinent information will arise in subsequent days, weeks, months or years, but we do hope to do an update to this episode in late fall or early winter of this year. With that caveat in mind let's delve right in.

Lauren Stara :

So I'd like to just have everyone introduce themselves. And I'm going to call on you firm by firm in alphabetical order and just say Hi. DRA is first.

Ken Best :

I'm Ken Best. I'm a principal at DRA, and my main focus for many years has been library design.

Ron Paolillo :

And I'm Ron Paolillo. I'm a project manager and interior architectural designer with DRA Architects. I work with Ken in the library segment of the office. I also do work with schools as well.

Lauren Stara :

Finegold Alexander, you're up.

Ellen Anselone :

Ellen Anselone, principal at Finegold Alexander. I work on many different project types. Libraries are one of my favorites. And I've been designing libraries since I started at Finegold.

Tony Hsiao :

And I'm Tony Hsiao. I'm a principal Director of Design at Finegold Alexander, and I share Ellen's comments. We've worked on a lot of libraries together. I'm delighted to be here with my esteemed colleagues as well as the MBLC.

Josephine Penta :

And I'm Josephine Penta, and I'm an Associate and Project Manager at Finegold Alexander. And like Ellen, I also work on a lot of libraries. I'm on the educational side and excited to be here today.

Lauren Stara :

And LLB?

Drayton Fair :

Hey, everyone! It's Drayton Fair. I'm a principal at LLB Architects. My main focus has been libraries for all my career, and we're very happy to be here.

Mallory Demty :

My name is Mallory. I'm a ProjectManager at LLB Architects. I've been working with Drayton on libraries since almost six years ago now.

Michael Stickney :

My name is Michael Stickney. I'm a Project Manager and Designer at Lerner, Ladds, and Bartel. I've been working with Drayton Fair for a little over five years on a lot of municipal projects, mostly libraries.

Lauren Stara :

Oudens Ello.

Conrad Ello :

Hi, thanks for having us, Lauren and Andrea. I'm Conrad Ello with Oudens Ello Architecture, and we have been involved with libraries for the last probably 12 years, a number of which have been with the MBLC. Happy to be here.

Noel Murphy :

I'm Noel Murphy. I'm an Associate at Oudens Ello architecture and excited to be part of the conversation this afternoon.

Lauren Stara :

Schwartz Silver.

Angela Ward Hyatt :

Hi, Angela Ward Hyatt. Schwartz Silver. I've been working on libraries, public and academic libraries, for a little over 20 years now. I was lucky enough to have Ellen Anselone as a client about a dozen years ago. She's on a building committee from Medford, which was the MBLC recipient as well. And I really think this was a great idea to organize this and have a discussion. Looking forward to it.

Lauren Stara :

Tappe.

Jeff Hoover :

Hi, I'm Jeff Hoover with Tappe Architects. I've been pretty much doing nothing but designing libraries for Tappe since 1984. So do the math. It's been a while.

Lauren Stara :

William Rawn Associates.

Sam Laskey :

I'm Sam Laskey, a Principal with William Rawn Associates. Thank you for having us here. l'll let my colleagues introduce themselves, too.

Cliff Gayley :

I'm Cliff Gayley, a Principal at William Rawn Associates. Had a chance to work on each of our libraries, and enjoy working with Sam and Sindu, who are with me here, and shout out to Carla from Sasaki who was with us for the BPL. Thanks for kicking this off. This will be a fun two hours.

Sindu Meier :

Hi, my name is Sindu Meier. I'm also with William Rawn associates. And I've enjoyed working on both the Valente Library and the Boston Public Library. And I wanted to thank Angela who designed our library at Milton, Massachusetts. So thank you.

Stew Roberts :

I'm Stew Roberts from Johnson Roberts Associates. And yeah, I've been working on libraries for probably 30 years plus.

Carla Ceruzzi :

Rob and I are here from Sasaki. So thank you for organizing this. And we are really both excited to be part of this. And for those of you who don't know, we've been working with MBLC compiling some best practices for library planning. That is why we're here and looking forward to it.

Lauren Stara :

Feingold Alexander, you're up.

Ellen Anselone :

All right. Thank you. So we thought, Josephine and Tony and I got together, and we selected circulation patterns, because that is the lifeblood of a library. So we put together a number of bullet points to prompt our discussion and I was going to hand it off to Josephine.

Josephine Penta :

Sure, I'll be just running through some of these bullet points that we touched on. And of course, like Lauren said, we could just go tailspinning around and hit so many other parts of this. But we'll try and stay focused on circulation. And I'm sure that's going to prompt quite a bit of conversation. We did a quite a bit of analysis, even in our own office plan on getting back to work and how that's going to happen. So we thought that some of this is going to apply with libraries as well. And sure enough, the first thing we thought of was basically, the staff really needs to sort of step back and look at the existing plan, the existing circulation patterns, and basically re-analyze how it's going to work come opening. So stepping back, we're going to start basically at the entry point, entry and exit point. And we thought one of the best ways probably to alleviate some of the cluster points is if libraries have multiple entrances, they could potentially use one as an entrance and one as an exit, depending on how close they are That could potentially be a good resolve for some of the clustering that you get at entry points now, and people are going to feel more secure if they have separate entry and exits, if it's possible. Now some of this might create concerns for security. As we all know, there are a lot of security issues and minimal staff typically at entry points. But another thing that needs to be considered is that probably some of the staff, although there might be fewer working in the actual library, some of the staff might actually be more willing to set themselves up at different points throughout the library. So they are actually separate from other folks since now, they're not going to want to be clustered in the same circ desk, for instance. So potentially some staff could relocate and be at an entry or exit point for more security. Then moving towards vertical circulation. Understandably, elevators now are all set up with foot markers and minimal amounts of people in them and because of that, a lot of people are feeling a little bit better about taking stairs these days. So even though there's fewer people in the building, there's can also be another point of where folks end up getting a little clustered. So if they have multiple stairwells, they could potentially use one way of travel for each. So one way up one way down. That is a possibility, depending on the library, of course. There was one article that Lauren had sent, where an interesting mirror situation where they started putting mirrors at landings, so you could actually see people coming and going, if you don't have that opportunity to have a stairway that's one way. And that could be an interesting way to make people feel a little bit easier about going up and down the stairs actually knowing what's ahead of you. And then a lot of the libraries we design nowadays have major central stair locations, and some of these open stairs are wide enough to have two way traffic so they could potentially put out, along with signs, two-way traffic separating it with plastic or something else. They could potentially keep the main central stair as a two way path, if it's wide enough. And along with that is spaces within the library itself, moving towards some large meeting rooms, if they potentially still want to use them, they potentially could. If they're large enough, and they have maximum occupancy signs up, they could potentially still use them. And I think if they're going to they probably want to do sort of the same idea with the circulation patterns. Can there be separate entry and exit points? And will they have put markers where people might be waiting prior to entry or upon exiting. Along with the aisles and the seating it all needs to be looked at or directional patterns and how many seats will be relocated or blocked off. Another topic would be rearranging of furniture. Book stacks, of course, is a huge piece of the pie because we have minimal dimensions between them and to have people run through them in a one way pattern would be pretty important. They probably would need the same idea of put markers where people would wait to go through the aisle and having those be one way is pretty important as well. Perhaps moving some of the book stacks would be an option as well is that is sort of a big lift for the library staff. But in some cases it might help and work better for the circulation. And along with that is the furniture in any seating, lounge or otherwise really needs to be looked at relocated and should not be in any of the paths of circulation. Another location is just admin spaces and circ desk and alike, can the staff be separated out? Can they be moved to maybe where some of the visitors typically would stay? So that potentially is another avenue to consider. And of course, all of this is signage right for everybody to get used to and familiarize themselves with the first solid few months of opening the signage is really critical. So people can understand the new patterns and the new way of entering and using the library. So those are the main bullet points.

Sam Laskey :

It's very interesting what you're talking about, because a number of the points involve duplication, and if we're thinking about this, not just in the immediate term but in the long term of the design of a library where this may intermittently occur, these events, and get into maybe budget planning issues, if we're going to be duplicating doors, duplicating ADA operators at doors. Those always one of those things people don't want to spend a lot of money on. And I think about those old fashioned staircases and movies and villas where they zigzag and kind of double up and you know, suddenly an even grander stair suddenly has meaning in a way that, you know, we're all kind of used to not being quite that grand anymore. So...

Drayton Fair :

One of the big questions I think that's overarching that I'm thinking about is a lot of the models called for basically a reduction in both collection and in seating. If you're going to have these wide circulation paths, or you're going to guide people through, or you're going to reduce soft seating, or you're going to not encourage people to cluster or work together, whether it's in the staff lounge or whether it's around a table. Does that mean that libraries have to get bigger actually because they take up more space? Or at what point are we going to sort of call a halt to it's not functioning properly if it doesn't have the right amount of materials or the right amount of seating or the right amount of community meeting space? So I think that's something that sort of overarching that I think we'll all struggle with.

Cliff Gayley :

It's interesting question of who gets to touch the books. Are you browsing or you come with a request, and then librarians are the ones that bring you the books. It's almost bringing us back to the centuries old model of a denser collection of books, and then a retrieval model. And none of us know, obviously, whether we're talking about the next nine months or the next decade or longer. So obviously, we'll all be talking about flexibility quite a bit and levels of flexibility going forward, because there will be x percentage of new libraries that get built but a lot more that are existing, whether they're newly constructed or quite old and in need of lots of upgrades. I think the question of books is even as people are developing new habits with Kindle and other things that might be stickier than we might think. Maybe not.

Carla Ceruzzi :

I think one other thing I wanted to just note that Josephine brought up is we kept mentioning what people would be comfortable, making staff comfortable, making visitors comfortable. And I think that's really important to keep in our minds, because as the scientific guidance and the sort of industry guidance shifts about sort of the realities of this particular virus. But there's also the psychological. Sort of, the way that we all act when we're in public space. And I think that we don't really know how much of those habits are going to stick with us in the long run, whather we all are going to kind of develop a bigger bubble than we currently have, as far as how many people were comfortable being in a room with together, how close we can sit with others. And you know, I think that we kind of have to hold both of those in our minds, both the kind of the real constraints that we're continuing to learn about, and then the sort of behavioral maybe the more psychological side of it,

Sindu Meier :

And then most libraries are contending with not just space, but also staffing, and a lot of the ideas we're hearing about and talking about require more staffing, as well as bigger spaces. And so how do, at least smaller communities contend with that. We're always fighting for budget for staffing our libraries.

Jeff Hoover :

Right, just to get back to a point that Drayton was making relative to circulation and the potential need to decrease the book collections space to make for more space in collections. That was illustrated in a couple of the plan examples that were circulated around. I don't know how it seems to you all, but it seems to me that that is unnecessary in terms of our planning for the, for people to browse the collection effectively, we could just do the one way circulation through the existing distribution of book stacks, and not have to monkey with moving that stuff around and maybe moving it back and still preserve the browsability of the collection and not revert to a model that has librarians getting the books for us. Acknowledging that that is usually a part of most libraries, maybe phase two implementation is that they're pulling the books from their shelves and placing them in paper bags and putting them on the curb for pickup. I don't think that that's a model that lasts much past a phase two in a maybe seven phase layered reopening strategy. They quickly get to a place where they're allowing patrons to come in the building, maybe all of the seating is closed off in some models, but they're able to browse the collection and stay in the building for, you know, 30 minutes or something like that. So I would leave the book sacks alone, unless you all have some other insight about that, that I just haven't realized.

Ken Best :

I agree with you, Jeff. I don't really see the need to reduce the collection size. One of the things I was wondering about on the circulation, and I really kind of relate to what's going on in supermarkets, at least in my area, where you know, we've had the one way aisles and that seems to work out fine. But there's always people like me that have to look on the floor before getting down an aisle, but people do if you get in a restricted area, people are quite happy to walk by one another. And I think the greatest concern is where people stay in the same area together for a period of time, where there's a greater possibility of transmission of the virus. I think people will use common sense for areas like staircases, aisles to get from space to space. And I think more effort should be placed on the seating areas where people tend to linger.

Lauren Stara :

That's a perfect segue to the next topic. Angela, from Schwartz Silver about furniture design and arrangement.

Angela Ward Hyatt :

Well, I'm glad I got this topic. I think especially with how libraries are more and more becoming flexible spaces that while might have some wonderful architectural features and spatial characteristics, I think more and more if the furniture isn't right, the whole library isn't right. So that's my way of saying I think furniture is a big part of how we think about our libraries. I've kind of lived through this firsthand in the last month, not here in Massachusetts, but we had a library in Louisiana, a public library open a month ago, been under construction for about three years. And so all these careful planning of furniture and where everything would be precisely positioned was all out the window. In fact, the building is being photographed today, and I have no idea where all the furniture is going to be. From my takeaway about what this means with furniture design and arrangement is the things that librarians and staff have been telling us that they want for years and we know that they should have and sometimes I fight a little bit on that, but it really comes down to flexibility and maintenance. So flexibility. Can you move the furniture round? Or how much do we have mobile staff service points versus the big, you know, built in desks? Do we have chairs that are light enough to move that are on casters, tables that are on casters. Are tables with computers, plug and play? Or are they hardwired? Luckily, on this project that just opened, we had everything that was plug and play, so it was very easy to move things around. We had a few stacks that were fixed, although they weren't tall. And unfortunately, to kind of circle back to what you're just talking about, their decision was to put caution tape around the stacks, the adult stacks. They didn't want anyone entering I think they could have absolutely done what you're saying to have a one way route through the stacks. Most of the other stacks in the building are on casters, as we're used to seeing is going to serve the building well. The furniture in all the meeting rooms obviously stacking, lightweight, portable so we can clear out, space things out accordingly. And then maintenance specifying fabrics upholsteries that we can clean that can withstand an intense new cleaning regimen and that also convey to the public the sense that this is something that they don't have to worry about sitting in. We're going to get into this later about the types of rooms and some of these rooms that have been really popular recently, you know, the collaboration spaces whether they're enclosed or in the open. I have a question for the group about, I think my gut tells me that these as far as furniture design type of furniture and it's become really popular lately are these kind of tall kind of semi-enclosed individual chairs where you could have a maybe a cell phone conversation and not disturb a greater group of people as much as you would if you were just in a regular soft seat. But I'm wondering if those are going to be a good thing to have in libraries because they kind of limit possibly spread of things. Or if those are going to be seen as something that are basically like germ magnets. But this project that we had that just opened, we have luckily listen to the librarians that they wanted storage space. So we have huge storage rooms on every floor, we have the luxury of well, not a lot of space, not a lot of sight space. It is a four story library, but we do have big storage rooms on every floor. And I know that's another topic for later, is that with flexibility and with thinning out of furniture, we have to have space to put it.

Ken Best :

I was sort of wondering a couple of things, fabric on seating, is that going to be a real issue? Are we going to end up with imitation leather on everything so they can wash it down? I mean, I kind of hate the thought of that. But is that something that we might get into and the second one is moving the furniture into a storage area. I mean, a lot of libraries are not going to have the space to move things. So why not leave the furniture out and put something over a seat so it can't be used. It's like don't use this seat but you can use this seat Some like that,

Angela Ward Hyatt :

oh no, I'm not sure if I think that would work. I was walking into a library I wouldn't want to see caution tape draped over chairs or things like that I would want it to look as thoughtfully composed as possible. So

Ken Best :

I don't know it's gonna look very empty.

Ellen Anselone :

Maybe the new chairs come with a cover that it matches the chair and you just slip it over when a pandemic. So it's every other chairs

Angela Ward Hyatt :

like your outdoor furniture cover. Yes, correct. That's right. As far as cleanability a few years ago, the only choice would have been kind of non porous vinyl or polyurethane but there are a lot of other choices out there now and a lot of bleach cleanable fabrics that are soft and don't feel like they are impervious, but then it gets into the question of is the public buying it and are they going to feel comfortable

Carla Ceruzzi :

you think about like the traditional giant wooden library tables and wooden chairs which aren't particularly comfortable but they do look like they have been cleaned before and cleaned again. So you know, me personally where what I want to sit probably at something hard without a lot of other seats around it so that I wouldn't have to worry about someone else coming to sit next to me but that's today. I mean, I don't know if this will all fade from our minds a year from now.

Ron Paolillo :

I think what you might see is more of a crossover from healthcare soft seating into more varied public spaces for all these reasons. Number one you have the cleanability with the 10% bleach solution. They're designed with clean outs so that any spills or fluids or debris just goes right through. There are gaps so things don't get caught between the cushions. And a lot of the healthcare furniture for public areas and even for patient rooms has almost become like hotel lobbies, just to use a, you know, an example. So I think you may see a little bit more of that drift into public soft seating in general.

Michael Stickney :

When it comes to interiors, I am excited about the future, and where this challenge is going to bring us. At one current project. Right now we're integrating copper handrails because copper is that antimicrobial material. So it's a great solution to every entry. So it's essentially self cleaning.

Ken Best :

Can I interrupt that? I was looking into, it used to be bronze door handles and things like that. I researched this. This was a while ago. The oils from one's hand actually coat the copper or the brass and what have you and take away their antimicrobial, so it's worth checking into it before you settle in with that. It doesn't always work.

Michael Stickney :

The positive aspects that we're looking at is potential of materials that are self cleaning and forward movement and different types of materials that can be used for different functions. There's also been strides made in laminate that's also self cleaning that they're promoting for health care areas, but can also begin to be used in the library areas now. And maybe that will give an opportunity to that small industry that's developing that little special substance they're putting in there to grow and to expand and go a little further. UV lighting is killing bacteria, so perhaps led gets replaced over reading areas with UV light. And maybe it's an opportunity to challenge fabrics a little bit more. What's the next step in fabrics? I've seen socks made out of copper. Is there a way that we can integrate copper spreads into fabrics? And so essentially, we don't have to give away that fine, beautiful texture of fabrics for vinyl. So I guess I'm just hopeful for the future that we can progress materials in a way that's moving the whole interior aspect forward.

Ron Paolillo :

I would agree with Michael on that.

Mallory Demty :

I want to challenge it only because all of this municipal work is public bid, and with public bid work we don't really have a lot of money or as much money as we wish we would have and we're always landing with low bidders and general contractors that are low bidding and swapping out anything they can that they find in the spec that can be swapped out. As much as I think it's a great idea, I feel like it's almost going to be too expensive and in turn prohibitive to use. So it's almost sort of thinking about what are materials that are, I don't want to say temporary materials, but materials that can be used now and then turn into something else or reuse, you know, swapped out because using something like copper has a lot of dollar signs associated to it in my head. And ideally COVID isn't something that's going to stay around forever and ever and that we come up with a way to address it so that it doesn't have to be so integrated into vinyl design and coming up with something in between that just so that it is a little bit better on everyone's wallets. You know, ideally I think Drayton maybe mentioned this program space in circulation is taking up a lot more space and people take up more space than books, that's what, you know, I've been taught and I would hate to reduce square footage so that we can afford a higher grade material. It's sort of like a ballance is how I see it in my head.

Sindu Meier :

But when we design libraries or buildings in general, there's the shell or the infrastructure that we plan for 50 or 100 years. But then furniture or finishes might last five or 10 years. And we're seeing in urban libraries, those finishes and fabrics, they may only last three to five years. So you have the option of, in the near term, thinking about scrubability and hoping that if this really only happens every hundred years, we could go back to wool and nicer, touchy feely fabrics, the next round. Our buildings, the urban ones, they really do end up turning over those fabrics quite quickly.

Angela Ward Hyatt :

They do and the fabrics are the first to go. And maybe this is to pick up on what Michael was saying about this is an opportunity. Maybe there's an opportunity for the furniture industry to think about how their furniture goes together. And maybe there's a seat pad that you get replaced. And the furniture companies are thinking a little bit more about end market users so that'd be something the libraries built into their operating budget rather than having to wait how many years to have a project that gets funded.

Sam Laskey :

Hi, everyone. This is Sam Laskey. I just begin by saying on a number of our recent library projects we've been asked increasingly to design smaller rooms for let's call them four people, maybe even less with a special eye towards tutoring and things like that that are in a number of our libraries are a kind of key reason why a community is considering a new library to serve people who need that. That's a kind of trend we've been seeing. Also maybe naively, when I first thought about this can imagine maybe a lay person thinking, oh, a small room seems safer. I'm away from everyone else. But in our conversations with librarians and library systems recently, I would say they are all saying large spaces are the key to this, that smaller spaces are very concerned about especially in older libraries where ventilation may be harder. It's interesting that these large spaces over and over again in the conversations we've had, we'll get to this in a few minutes, I'm sure, but just the sense of the large spaces in currently newer but even older libraries probably have better ventilation, better HVAC systems and one library that we have spoken to refer to the HVAC system as the backbone or the decision that everything else flows from. So the sense that there's the possibility of better air movement, air circulation within these larger spaces, I think is the precursor thinking that so many of these systems are going through. But we've also heard it's kind of easier to keep track of what's happening within the library. There's issues of compliance and behavior that librarians are having to deal with in new ways. Even a hope that within a large space when people are in there, there's almost like a self regulating effect with regard to things like mask wearing that everyone around you you see is, so you continue to do so, and librarians aren't put in the position of having to be enforcers rather than librarians. Those were some of the immediate things that we've been hearing about in the immediate term as libraries are trying to reopen these larger spaces really the sense that they are the first areas of libraries that will reopen rather than reopening, maybe some hard to reach areas of stacks or all these smaller rooms that maybe we've focused on making in the last few years. But let me just turn it to Cliff to think a little bit more what happens down the road with regard to this question, and Sindu will talk about some things we've been hearing about medium-sized spaces. Is there a Goldilocks moment in them?

Cliff Gayley :

I just wanted to make a case for why members of the public want to come to the library and hopefully stay. Not simply about the transaction, it's about being amongst your fellow citizens in a civic space, and even as we're thinking about the next several months and weeks, as Sindu said, got a building stock that's hopefully going to last for generations. So keeping in mind the spaces that are inviting and inspiring, that are welcoming, connect to the outdoors and daylight. They have a volume that feels maybe psychologically to Carla's point more like being outdoors inside as opposed to being in small confined spaces that people might get concerned about the air quality. And ultimately, places where people want to be and spend time. Now the question in the short term is how much time, how do librarians manage who gets to stay for how long until the next group wants to come along? And I'm sure there'll be lots of experimentation in the months to come. Sam mentioned the the lines of sight that are so important from a staffing point of view, and those can be lines of sight that are to the front door and conveying that sense of welcome in particular to patrons who are coming in for the first time and sort of looking around saying, you know, is this safe place and but also just being able to see around the room. And certainly the question of flexibility within a large room, especially if furniture and stacks in particular are on casters. The question that Jeff and Drake and Ken were discussing about the stacks. I can imagine some experimentation. Is a typical minimal gap too tight? And if you just added another foot or 18 inches, does it suddenly become more manageable from people's flow, if you will? So that kind of large room again from a functional point does allow for experimentation in the near term as well as over time, should this come and go in waves in the next five to 10 years. And obviously within a space like that, I know we'll talk about HVAC, but acoustics becomes one of those elements of flexibility that allows many things to happen in one space. Still, everybody is able to feel welcome. I'll pass it off to Sindu to talk about medium spaces and other things.

Sindu Meier :

So as we were debating the small versus big and what is most effective, we've also been hearing that as these libraries have had to pivot to online services, their programming numbers have gone through the roof. People are quickly learning to log in and join on zoom for all these book clubs or debates or even knitting clubs. And so the medium space could be a place where this could continue to happen whether or not they bring these programs back into the building. And the question becomes how do we outfit those rooms to allow for a studio-like space with the proper AV speakers and even green screen capability so that these programs can be at a high level and continue to raise their numbers. Another thing we debated was the issue of how can we maximize the use of outdoor space or make that connection between inside and outside stronger. And while, we could talk about throwing open the doors and letting that flow happens, some of the patrons, and I wouldn't say it's just urban spaces, look to libraries to provide heat relief or even heating in winter months. And so I know in our town, we try to keep that library open on Saturdays and Sundays for people who don't have access to AC, and we know that's a major issue in our urban libraries as well. So there's a push pull on whether a stronger connection between inside and outside would help allow the libraries to open faster or with greater capacity. Some of our questions that we've been running both with our consultants and with our librarians that we deal with is how do we handle these questions are answered differently, whether you have new infrastructure, or you're dealing with older buildings that don't even have ventilation capacity right now. And that could be a major investment that libraries have to make to even get back up to speed or get to zero level before talking about how to handle COVID.

Sam Laskey :

I think we've all probably worked on projects where the idea of access after hours to a community room was part of the brief on the project. In talking with folks, seems like those spaces that had a separate entrance had been very valuable to communities, not just for library services but for other kinds of services that a community may want to offer in times like this. And so, you know, we started wondering whether rather than a single community room, there might be more of a suite of them. Maybe future library program briefs, you know, instead of one, there's three medium ones instead of one big one to allow several different kinds of things to happen at once, because that sense of separate access seems to be very valuable in letting libraries that may otherwise be closed continue to play a role in our community.

Sindu Meier :

And the positive thing about these small rooms that Sam was saying are hard to use as they are being used as the book storage as these books are being quarantined for 72 hours. So they're not completely useless at this moment.

Cliff Gayley :

But what are your experiences across your clients and your projects?

Jeff Hoover :

I would interject. This is Jeff. The libraries that we're planning now, which are different from libraries that have to cope with what they have, are still anticipating the meeting spaces that we will have been planning towards for the last, well in this century anyway. And there is definitely an increased interest in small group study rooms for tutoring or alcoves that support that kind of activity. And it's hard to imagine sort of meeting a stranger to tutor in the context of any space right now. However, if you are dealing with a group of people that are sequestering together, a small group study room could be a really popular place in the library because I don't want to be in the big space with everybody else. I'll be over here with my

Sam Laskey :

Bubble.

Jeff Hoover :

Those spaces will, I mean, depending on the community will still be in high demand. And increasingly, the after hours component is getting not only reinforced but developed in new directions in terms of what level of after hours services are included, including self service holds pick up after hours, access to some technology after hours as well, all in unsupervised community access spaces that come off of some sort of entry hub. I think that some of those things could really still work for a library opening in the pandemic, especially to the extent that self service is emphasized. And to the extent that those self service interactions could also be touch free, although, as we all know, the transmission by fomite from services is relatively unheard of. So we don't really have to worry about that. But having the hand cleaning station as part of those 24 7 environments. I think one of the articles talked about moving hand cleaning as something that happens, you know, obscured from view from anyone else to something that could be much more public is an interesting concept. And probably something, if we design for that now we'll see it remain. It'd be hard to, in nine months, start removing hand cleaning stations from public spaces. Once they're there, people think I'm accustomed to that like a utility and want to see it, but that's later.

Cliff Gayley :

It's interesting goes back to, I think, Josephine's point about the circulation in the front door and that whole, how do you manage the flow into the library from a security point of view around the books and all the stuff that we've all been thinking about for years and years and still allow for severability in time or even in terms of, if we go into a less than ideal mode, you still could have most of the library shut. But these extra medium sized rooms available for some critical use and whether it's for community testing, or whether it's for voting, whether it's for access to computers for folks who have to school, be online, but don't have access to the internet, there are a whole set of things that these spaces could be deployed in, if one happens to rethink the whole access to a front door question. Whether it's a front door or whether it's a temporary back door that can become a front door in critical times.

Sindu Meier :

And one thing we did here is that as schools are trying to open up, they've been looking over to the library to see if they could grab some of their space to help spread these kids out. I don't know Lauren or Andrea, if you're hearing that across the Commonwealth.

Lauren Stara :

I have not heard anything about that kind of thing. What I've heard just this morning was the conversion of school libraries to classroom space and as well as other specialized classrooms like art and music being taken over for regular classrooms space. So we need to move along to Oudens Ello.

Conrad Ello :

Yeah, so exterior spaces. I think Sindhu you touched a little bit on the relationship of some of these spaces inside to the outside and just want to say that really given the change in thinking about libraries as kind of de facto community centers now, in our work, we've recently seen towns and building committees, directors all more receptive to the idea of purpose built exterior spaces. This trend really, in our work and from what we see has really been happening before the onset of the pandemic. In effect, I think people are beginning to understand that exterior spaces, especially in shoulder seasons but also in good summer weather can be more than something nice to look at. I think they enhance the patron experience and a sense of community and connection that a library can offer is an example of expanded library programming activities like a yoga studio and poetry readings, even things like job fairs and movie trivia night. These are all more commonplace in libraries today. But these are offerings that are really well suited, potentially to be held outside. A lot of them actually are now in some of the work we've been doing. And it's especially critical obviously in this new reality where ventilation and social distancing is important. But there are other more traditional library offerings like children's storytime gatherings or even places for quiet reading and contemplation, which I think can be accommodated in a pleasant reading garden or a courtyard space. You know, you think of the BPL McKim building, that beautiful courtyard comes to mind. Even I think of this kind of little library in Vineyard Haven that has a beautiful shaded little brick terrace, and it's a wonderful place to take a book out in a controlled, kind of safe setting, and enjoy it. And obviously, I think folks will feel much more comfortable in a time of a pandemic reading or lingering in a space that's outside, obviously. But then there are things like voting or like a music concert or even a reception. Let's say a blockbuster author lecture happens in a library. These larger venues, I think, speak to the potential pairing I think, Sindu, this is what you guys were touching on, this idea that you pair maybe a large multi-purpose community room with an equally scaled outdoor space, something that provides versatility and allows you to either spread those activities out amongst, you know, an indoor and an outdoor space, or you host the event fully outside. So I think having big public space adjacent to interior public space is something I think one might consider more in this kind of reality that we're living in. Funny enough, when we first got started working on MBLC-funded projects there was real resistance from the towns and from the MBLC to invest any sort of money in the library grounds, and we still encounter resistance in our work, seeing it sort of as an extravagance or it's too difficult to maintain given limited staff resources. There's also a lot of discussion around the issue of safety and security, which are real issues. You know, how does one control and outdoor environments of books don't get stolen, or patrons don't feel unsafe? And there's some local examples, I think that do a good job tackling these issues head on. I know, a number of you here on the call, probably we're involved in the Cambridge Public Library, the Rawn team. There's a secure outdoor seating area that's between the new wing and the old building that takes advantage of this beautiful copper beech tree that's there. It's a lovely setting. I kind of wish it were bigger and maybe with new library designs, those kinds of spaces will become more popular in buildings. Machado and Silvetti's Honan-Allston library is another great example of the kind of thing fully secured courtyard reading garden in the middle of the building. It's funny, we've done battle with, maybe it was before your time, Lauren, you know, that a courtyard building was kind of a deadly diagram because of, you know, sightlines and control at the library. But there is something to be said about a fully secure, controllable outdoor environment within the confines of the library itself. Further afield I'll just say one library that's kind of stood out to us as it relates to kind of a more interesting contemporary example of indoor outdoor spaces, the Austin Central Library by Lake Flato, and I think Shepley Bulfinch was involved in this as well, and it has a really cool sort of reading porch that's on a third or fourth floor. It's a multi-story library, maybe five or six stories tall. And it has a great roof garden with a photovoltaic canopy. And I think outdoor spaces can also be great sustainability teaching tools, how you manage stormwater, and how you deal with things like powering a building. It gives you this opportunity to educate people in creative ways, that also allows you to be in a well ventilated outdoor space, so that's a building that's kind of resonated with us. And in our recent work, we've been trying to incorporate more sort of controlled outdoor spaces, be it a screen porch or an outdoor terrace that is fully within the secure boundaries of the library. And we were doing this certainly pre-pandemic as other designers have done. It's more important even in today's day and age with this pandemic. And the question I have, and this question is sort of a toss out to all of you is how one gets from A to B, are there dedicated stairs or dedicated passive circulation that can get to these outdoor spaces that feel natural and don't feel like we're spending more money to necessarily to add a second stair or another corridor. And maybe it's just good planning to start to think about ways to get to those outdoor spaces directly from a parking lot or from the entry without having to navigate the whole inside of a building. So that was my little long winded preamble. But outdoor space is kind of an easy one as it relates to what we're talking about.

Cliff Gayley :

Conrad, I just wanted to jump on your observations about the courtyard. Clearly the Honan-Allston Library set a very good standard for that intimate courtyard that felt like it was bringing daylight into the heart of the building. And in fact, we followed suit with our Mattapan Public Library as well. That was interesting. When East Boston came along, it was clear that the program excluded a courtyard. And this was back in the '08-'09 days where the project was decidedly budget driven, and a courtyard seemed like it was going to be more expensive than the budget could handle. So the challenge was to, in a sense, bring daylight into a space where you couldn't rely on courtyard and so that was an interesting challenge. I don't know from moving forward with JP and others where the BPL system is on that question of a controlled outdoor space. But the question of multi-floor versus ground floor, when does a branch library get to a certain size that a second floor is advantageous, as opposed to keeping everything on one floor avoiding stairs and elevators and proving sight lines, all that stuff? So that may be a sidebar to your question, one of the threshold of scale as well.

Conrad Ello :

Yeah, I mean, Honan-Allston is a one story building, as you know, and that works in providing a secure outdoor space in a courtyard type of configuration. NADAAA's done a library for the BPL. I don't know if you're familiar with their design for the Adams Street Branch Library, which is I think under construction now. That's also one story, and it has a nice, kind of, fenced-in, contained outdoor space that I think probably has independent access from the street. You could almost run your whole library operation out of that garden for a time during this crisis.

Carla Ceruzzi :

The courtyard model puts the outdoor space inside the line of, you know, you're in the library you've passed through security. You don't necessarily have to check out the materials. And then backdoor spaces, like what Conrad just mentioned at Adams. Or the East Boston porch, for example, people use Wi Fi on that porch all the time, 24 7. That's a really important service right now. I think there's room to talk about both because yeah, it'd be great to I think, attend events in an indoor or an fully contained courtyard where you're sort of within the library. But it's also great to be able to access that outdoor space without the library even needing to be open. Maybe not something that we were all thinking about back then. But I think now we can see that being able to capture the library Wi Fi, without the librarians needing to be in the office is so, so important to so many people. That's kind of hard to imagine not planning for that going forward.

Lan Ying Ip :

Actually, just to follow up on that comment on the outdoor spaces. I think that you had mentioned parking. But what's been pretty interesting that we saw in the very early days of the pandemic was the parking lots became activated immediately for people to get access to Wi Fi. People who don't have Wi Fi at home. would go basically to the parking lot to do their homework on Wi Fi sitting in the car. So I think these are the things that are invisible, but that show how libraries are such resilient and often providing invisible services to the community that are impacted by our design. So I think the parking lot. We shouldn't forget about the parking lot.

Sam Laskey :

Conrad, you raised the question of security when you're opening things up to the outdoors. And really surprising to me in some conversations that we've had with library directors in certain communities that have asked the question, you know, how open could it be to let people browse if you had a wall of garage doors that open instead of not and the library we're almost outdoors? The response we've gotten is, we're not that worried about the security, some people might steal some books and a lot of people will still check them out. Maybe some of these things that we all think are the rules we can be more heretical about, after all, because talking to some of the librarians they didn't rank that level of control of the collection is more important than access to the collection.

Conrad Ello :

Sam I think you're right. We've heard that as well. I think it depends on the community, I think more, it's the issue of safety than it is like losing a book or two. We've had a lot of conversations with some of our library clients about really trying to push outdoor space and having like children's rooms that extend out into the landscape. And it's a real issue with a group of kids monitored by one children's librarian, you know, you're adjacent to a pathway that leads through town, that's a real concern. And you end up having to create these walled outdoor spaces, which can work. How one controls that, I think it's more of a safety issue than it is a loss of books.

Lauren Stara :

And moving on to Sasaki with flexibility versus separation.

Carla Ceruzzi :

Thanks. Almost everyone has touched on flexibility to some degree already, but it's such an important topic. One of the things that I think we've all been talking to our institutional clients and all of our clients about is that when we're planning a project, you know, we don't know what the situation is going to be a couple of years from now, but I think what this whole pandemic has exposed is that we need to be able to pivot very quickly from one scenario to another. And it's important to build in the flexibility to be able to do that in ways that we may not be able to anticipate the specifics of right now. You know, we may not even be operating in the same world three years from now that we are today. The very first point that Josephine brought up about multiple entrances kind of exemplifies that we may sacrifice some efficiency along the way to get that flexibility. That's kind of the big picture is that if you want to be able to have multiple ways to use a space and multiple options throughout, whether it's circulation space, whether it's program driven space, even whether we're talking about the HVAC systems, there is a cost to not optimizing everything down to the most efficient version of itself. So if you're not getting overly specific, there may be a little bit more space that that takes up, maybe a little bit more cost to that, and we need to understand that, I think, going into a library planning or library design exercise. When we think of flexibility, I think we often the first thing that a lot of people think of is a large, open space that has movable furniture, and that certainly is very flexible. But I think in terms of the entire building, multiple space types are probably one of the things that contributes to flexibility. So being able to use those small one-on-one tutoring rooms that Sam mentioned for people to reserve where they don't have to breathe other other people's air, or whether it's for quarantining materials, or being able to create safe spaces for different groups to do different things. That is a form of flexibility as well. So I think we could talk about each type of space and how you could make each of those spaces flexible. But one message I think, is to have many choices, whether it's many different space types, many different ways that you could use those spaces. So for large spaces, I mean, we've already kind of talked about moveable furniture. That seems pretty clear. Small spaces seem very flexible. I think we're even saying that perhaps we want to look at single user bathrooms because that might be a more flexible way of providing bathrooms. You're not jamming all the people who need that particular bathroom into one room, you don't have to block off stalls, for example, to kind of reduce the occupancy of the bathroom, if you had single user bathrooms. The outdoor spaces that that Conrad described is another way that we can say, Well, if we have the option of opening up to the outdoors, then we have the flexibility to pivot the entire operation of a particular space to an outside environment. We're not advocating that all library services move outdoors, but it's great to have that option. One thing that we haven't talked about a whole lot is the lobby, the kind of front entrance of the building, maybe that's a place where adding a little bit more space and maybe a few more ways in and out might make the space more flexible for various scenarios, whether you're talking about a wellness check. I'm not sure how many libraries would actually implement a wellness check. But if you wanted to do it, you could. Whether it's a hand washing station, whether it's one way flow one way in one way out, or whatever it might be, having a little bit more space and having furniture that's not built in that allows you to reconfigure can allow the library to flex and move as situations come up that are not necessarily this particular situation. The last thing that we wanted to mention was the role of technology in all of this. All of us non-essential workers have pivoted very quickly to doing work from anywhere, constantly being online. You know, libraries, were already moving in this direction that everything is on Wi Fi, there's lots of power everywhere, and some libraries are starting to do laptops instead of computer stations. This was already in the works. But I think if you think about how much that has accelerated in the last few months, the sort of widespread adoption of video conferencing. We've all been forced to go mainstream with that. Anyone who has kids in school knows how to use Zoom pretty much at this point. So how does the library react to that? Do we need to design some places where people can be separated from other people's audio while still in an open space that has good ventilation? Maybe it is through furniture. I think someone brought that up earlier. Or maybe it's through small rooms, a lot of different ways to do it. But I think it's the type of flexibility of the use of space that we're going to be seeing a lot more of going forward.

Rob Sugar :

And I think I would just add that building on what everyone talked about is that separation doesn't necessarily need to be the inverse of flexibility either. And it can actually be used to benefit Sindu's point about using these smaller meeting rooms as quarantine spaces for books is a great example of already just taking advantage of the separations we're already building into the libraries and not necessarily needing to devote, you know, one of the questions we asked is now are library's going to ask for a quarantine room as part of every program. And so thinking about maybe how we can use spaces flexibly to avoid having to add additional square footage for a quarantine room is one way to think about it. And then I would just say there's different scales of separation that we've all been talking about, from the scale of these ubiquitous Plexiglas separations that have now sprung up everywhere, all the way to hard walls and everything in between. I thought it was interesting in the one story that furniture manufacturer has turned around the development of a new fabric wrap panel system within a few weeks just because they see the market for those moveable temporary separations to really take off. And how can we best utilize those in our existing spaces, I think is a good point, too.

Carla Ceruzzi :

One of the things with meeting rooms is that oftentimes the large meeting room after it gets to be a certain size, a library will ask that it be divisible by a folding partition or something so that there can be two mid-size meetings happening in the same space. There are pros and cons to those partitions. But I could imagine that approach making a lot of sense going forward, because we don't know whether a large room is going to be a good idea or a bad idea. It's nice to be able to have it both ways depending on the situation.

Michael Stickney :

I enjoyed your explanation and some of the ideas that you came up with about flexibility beyond furniture, and it made me start thinking about how there's already a lot of non interaction technology that happens within the library, like the automatic book return machines that return the books on conveyor belts. Maybe we'll be seeing more of that. Putting into teen space self serve laptop station. So again, you don't need an employee to get the laptop. So maybe we'll see more of that. And maybe we'll see even more self serve. So essentially what I'm getting at is the more non interactive activities we can create in the libraries frees ups the limited staff that we have to do more things than sit stationary behind the desk.

Josephine Penta :

And one thing I wanted to add on Carla's point, and one thing that we've noticed, which I'm sure you folks have noticed, too, is that like she mentioned, the Zoom calls aren't going away. They're going to be here now for a long time, and we've all been home zooming in or you know, we have Teams at our office, and it's worked great but most of us have quiet backdrops so there has been no background noise. However, once you get back into an office setting or library setting, it's going to change. We've noticed that actually already in our office. And whether it be sound canceling headphones or again the smaller rooms maybe is where people can break out like we use our small conference rooms at breakout spaces in case someone has a Teams call. But that's definitely something to keep under consideration.

Carla Ceruzzi :

Is it Westwood that has the sound masking system? I don't know if that works if multiple people have Zoom calls going on the reading room at the same time, but I wonder if those types of considerations are going to become more prominent as this becomes normalized. It's a normal way to be.

Ellen Anselone :

We did Wedstwood, and we had some base devices in there and they even added more, but I'm not sure that's enough. That was to help with the footfall noise in the lobby.

Lauren Stara :

The thing about sound masking is that it cuts down on the audibility, you can't understand what people are saying, but you still hear the noise, so I'm not sure that that's the answer.

Stew Roberts :

So I think I just add, too, that I think all these meeting rooms that we've been doing, I think when we have library programs, again, people may want to do them as Zoom meetings in combination with in person meetings. So I think we're going to see a little bit more emphasis on some of the technology so that we can connect those meetings that are happening of various sizes in the library so people can participate online.

Carla Ceruzzi :

Sindu's comment about this kind of studio atmosphere, almost like a broadcasting studio. I personally hadn't really thought about that before you mentioned it. And I was kind of thinking, well, the technology really has to be everywhere. And it should be more evenly spread. Both points of view are valid and may become something that libraries will have to balance where they put their technology resources.

Jeff Hoover :

Well, those video capture technologies can be portable, mobile on a cart. You could bring it to the outside of any to a four person or 12 person meeting room that has a window in as so many of them do.

Cliff Gayley :

This comes to the question of what are some of the innovations that libraries are doing now that might stick. Certainly a lot of online programming- museums are doing it, libraries are doing it, and there's a sense that they want to keep doing it. And it's probably continued development of content that maybe is only online. But also thinking about their presentations and community offerings and meeting spaces as potential streaming events and even recorded events. Should the speaker be able to sign the waiver, agree to that content being, remaining public? So I think that that question of broadcast is an interesting one of opening up the reach and presence that a library has in our community.

Lan Ying Ip :

I wanted to add one thing about just thinking about flexibility and separation, and that's maybe something that's better coined by the word adaptability. You know, I think because right now, in this pandemic, we have to separate from each other. But who knows what's going to happen in the next one, and what the issues are going to be there? So it's interesting question to think about the size of the library, could it actually expand and contract the spaces that are for community usage that are available 24 7 by the community versus the private controlled zone of the library? Are we going to get into a scenario where some libraries will experiment with moving that line between the community usage, the free zone, and the control zone, depending on what's happening and what they're trying to respond to in their community?

Sindu Meier :

And it seems like these libraries and all of us are slowly checking off the box like now we can distribute books, and now we can give you computer access. And at some point, I think in the end, we want to get back to the fact that the library is a community space, and we want to bring everyone back in. And so many people in our town or in our cities are looking to get back to connecting with people in person in a safe space. And so somehow, when we think about library design, we have to find a way to get the people back in, not in groups of one but groups of five or 10. I'm just wondering how that would work. Because I can tell you when I finally got to go back to my library, it was the librarians were excited to say hello, and I was excited to see everyone, again, and they said that's been a real reaction that they've all been having. Just people just waiting to get back in and not just to use a computer but to interact with other human beings.

Lauren Stara :

So I think that's a good transition to safety and security. Johnson Roberts.

Stew Roberts :

I mean, it seems to me that safety and security, that's the overarching issue here. That's what we really been talking about on every other topic. And the issue is we've all been trying to design libraries that are welcoming, that bring people together. And now all of a sudden, we have a challenge that we have to design libraries that might limit the number of people that are coming in, control who's coming in, and we have to devise ways of keeping them apart. And so how do we maintain the essence of the library and still do both of those things? I think that's what we're struggling with on all the other discussions we've had so far. Some of the things that I guess I have concerns about is first talking about the welcoming part of the library. If we move to a model where we might limit the capacity of people who are coming in, are we going to do what grocery stores are doing and have only a certain number of people that are in the library at any one time? Does that mean we're going to have people queued up on the outside and one in one out? I could see that that might happen in some of the initial phases. But that's not so conducive to having such a welcoming facility. And then once you get in the checks that we're going to need to go through. We want to make sure that people are coming to the library are healthy. So I think it might mean temperature checks, certainly going to mean hand sanitizer and wipes every place. But we still want to have a welcoming library for people when they come in. And then in terms of security inside just I think the big issue that I see is the strategy that we've taken for years is really one of providing good sight lines and supervision from the library. So from the staff positions, you can see what's going on in the library. Nobody's really policing, nobody's really monitoring the front door, but you've got a sense from the front desk who's coming and going. I think the challenges are going to be with a lot of the furnishings changes we're talking about some of the other changes, maybe if we had smaller spaces is that furniture's gonna, may get taller again, you know. Study carrels, the trend has been for years that they've gotten lower, lower till there's no dividers. Now all of a sudden, we're going to be putting dividers in and moving them around. And we're going to end up creating lots of blind spaces in the library. And I think we have to be careful about that, if we're going to maintain security for patrons. And you know, I think it's especially going to be an issue for more sensitive areas of the library like a children's department. How are we really going to divide those kids? I don't know how we're ever going to divide those kids. Keep them apart, so they're safe and still have an open facility that you can see and know what's happening as well. Those would be the points that I make. Really everything else we've talked about, it really falls into those categories.

Carla Ceruzzi :

When we were documenting best practices recently, we looked at a number of different models for staff points from the desk that never moves all the way down to the sort of person walking around with an iPad who doesn't have a desk at all, and you just know that they're a staff member somehow and everything in between. When you were talking about sightlines and the importance of sightlines to security, I think the positioning of the staff, it kind of goes back to the flexibility question, too, or the adaptability question, perhaps. But I'm curious if anyone has been rethinking that staff, not so much where they go, but how movable they are? Or do you find the optimum location for the staff and then just put them there? Or do you leave that as an open question that can flex and change throughout the life of the building?

Lauren Stara :

Well, that's a really good point, Carla, in that the way I'm looking at flexibility is not just in the space and the furnishings, it's in the service model as well. And we've been trying to push for more flexible service model, a more responsive one where staff is out on the floor rather than behind the desk for years, and I think it's getting some traction now and librarians are becoming a lot more flexible about the worry about materials being stolen. You know, there's a shift in mindset among librarians that's really starting to take hold with that kind of thing.

Drayton Fair :

And some of the materials that we were looking at that you sent out earlier, they're advocating, particularly in this time, for people to stay where they are, that it might be safer for somebody to stay at a particular station with this nice card, then be wandering around amongst people. So I think it's a conundrum.

Mallory Demty :

One thing that I know we always try to do, as far as like when we're just starting with programming is we find that librarians like their desk to be sort of backed by that technology space and the staff circulation space. So we always make that, at least for the main circulation desk and then sometimes the reference has to be a little bit segregated, and so for one library that we're working on, I think they do feel comfortable that if they're at that main circulation desk, they can sort of like slip into that back room, but they have that visual security with the glass so that they can see when a patron comes out and they can kind of hop between those two spaces but have that level of separation between those rooms. And then in others, they want that desk to be separate so that it forces them, the staff members, to sort of circulate through the stacks and sort of like, just you know, nonchalantly have some visual security as opposed to eyeing down every patron to make sure they're not stealing a book or something.

Michael Stickney :

One of our urban libraries devised before the pandemic happened, and now it seems very applicable is no soft seating against the exterior walls. This completely contradicts anything that we want to do as a designer to maximize daylighting, create spaces where people want to stay, but it'd being an urban library overdosing of the patrons is a very common event. So monitoring the patrons is of utmost security and importance to the staff. So what they do is push all the stacks to the exterior walls, and then the middle spine becomes the seating arrangement. I agree that the biggest issue coming up is that everything's getting higher, which promotes potential bad behaviors and less monitoring. So by concentrating everyone, potentially having loose seating in one main corridor that can be monitored more, might be a positive solution to what we're dealing with.

Cliff Gayley :

I think this gets back to, I think, Carla's question about flexibility and metrics of efficiency as programs get developed. Hopefully, these trade offs of sightlines versus efficiency as well as square footage for movement and square footage for capacity, for occupancy, both in the near term and longer term are tracked so that we're not forced to make trade offs that are bad one way or the other. Obviously, budget has to be kept very much in the forefront as well. But I think having these kinds of conversations with the team early on and trying to figure out where the sweet spot of where that flexibility can be achieved ought to be part of a programming conversation. What are the handful of ways have given yourself the toolkit to be able to be nimble over time?

Lauren Stara :

Bathrooms, DRA?

Ken Best :

The thing about restrooms is that well we have basically two types. We've got the large gang type toilet room with multiple stalls, but there's definitely a trend towards more individual restrooms which seem to be ideal in the case of the virus we're dealing with just because they're isolated, only one occupant at that time, you don't have to worry about social distancing those sorts of issues with a single restroom. Automation, I think, is really important when it comes to restrooms: automatic faucets, soap dispensers, flushing devices, those are all important. There's a few automated toilet tissue holders out there but not too many. But I see that as being possibly the next thing and also a greater use of toilet seat covers, I think, will be coming into play. The big one which is against automation is hand dryers. The age of electric hand dryer I see is gradually disappearing. Paper towels are much safer way to dry one's hands. With the electric dryer, it's literally blowing whatever's in the air, blowing it around the room. And that could really create problems. So I think going to a paper towel device is a good way. Hand sanitizers, too. I'd like to see hand sanitizers on the outside of the restrooms. The less things that people touch with infected hands, the better. So if you can have a hand sanitizer outside before you push open the door, that's great, and even one on the inside as you're leaving. I know a lot of people will take a paper towel to open doors. Getting rid of doors is a nice way of solving that, but that really lends itself more to a highway rest stop and than a library.

Ron Paolillo :

As we've been going through public spaces, those of us who have been able to get out over the past month or so or a couple of months, you notice every time you go into a store of any kind, there are temporary barriers and whether they're Lexan or anything else. Even at drive throughs they've managed to put plastic sheets over the drive up teller windows to minimize that social contact. The only place I haven't seen that type of thing is in public restrooms. My wife and I recently took a trip out of town. In the rest areas, we stopped in people kept their distance, which people normally do in a public restroom anyway, but they had masks on. But there were absolutely no other barriers between sinks, which you're shoulder to shoulder with another person washing your hands. A lot of them still had the air dryers, which as Ken said, they are blowing recirculated air right onto your hands. And you know, in the case of a men's room, even at urinals a lot of men's rooms do not have privacy screen between the urinals. And I think that's something that has been an oversight in general that these means of adding some sort of barrier between people in public spaces in public multiple occupant restrooms. And I think going forward, that might be something we see in general, but, in particular, in libraries, you'll see them as well. Fortunately for libraries, the public gang toilets usually are not that big. You'll have a few stalls, a couple of sinks, but you still have the issue of people being shoulder to shoulder, so adding some sort of divider between sinks, it could still be a counter but some sort of clear panel as a temporary solution. Even doing the same thing at urinals, making these dividers, privacy screens a little bit deeper as well as taller. I was really shocked not to see this happening in public restrooms.

Ken Best :

One of the problems with restrooms is that as designers, we'd rather keep them as small as possible, because we don't want to take away from program space. But we're in a situation where when you have multiple fixture restrooms, there isn't a lot of space to maintain social distancing. You can't walk by somebody and keep a six foot distance. It's not really possible with the existing restrooms. And so Ron and I were having a little discussion about do we limit the number of people that are in the restroom at one time? Well, how do you keep track of that? If you have a, let's say, you've got a program running, and it's a break in the program and everyone wants to go to the restroom. Well, do you ask people with signage to use common sense? You know, if there are a number of people in the restroom using the facilities? Do you wait outside the restaurant and at least on the outside, you could probably maintain social distancing and then as one person leaves, another can go in. I don't think we have the perfect solution because these rooms are relatively small based upon the potential number of people that could be using them at the same time. Like I say, I think a lot of it has to be to the common sense of the individual but also doing things as Ron said about screening between fixtures just to make sure if you are in those confined spaces, you can be somewhat safe.

Andrea Bunker :

I have a question about whether or not anyone's utilizing those toilet seats that automatically come down before it flushes in any of your designs.

Drayton Fair :

Toilet seats or toilet lids?

Andrea Bunker :

Toilet lids, sorry, toilet lids. I'm just thinking of it as like a whole.

Jeff Hoover :

you need a full toilet seat in order to close before you flush to prevent the dispersal, you know, the air currents that are created by the flushing toilet spreading germs and bacteria of every sort around the room. So transitioning to full toilet seats and public restrooms is something that we're being asked to do now. It's something we haven't incorporated previously.

Carla Ceruzzi :

A project that I was working on that was in schematic design just finished up. So throughout the work from home period, it was in SD. And we changed all of the group bathrooms in this institutional building to single user bathrooms. And it did take a little bit more space. It wasn't in this case, they weren't huge group bathrooms. So it wasn't a huge space penalty. But it was done not only because of COVID-19, but also for gender inclusivity, and just kind of not having to worry about that going forward. And we're still waiting for our meeting with the state plumbing inspector to kind of sign off on that approach. But I think the codes are starting to catch up with that as well. So I'm hoping that at some point in the near future, the math of toilet counts will become a little bit simpler, and maybe that will help us implement some of these ideas about privacy and personal space a little bit more easily.

Ken Best :

I don't see there's any issue with using a single restroom. I think it's a much better approach under the circumstance.

Angela Ward Hyatt :

I don't think that there's that much additional space, and when you do the math, thinking of this project that just opened in Louisiana, we integrated a lot of single occupancy restrooms for the purpose that Carla is mentioning. And I think about our main public restrooms in the building, we have two sets, one on the first floor, one of the fourth floor. Each one has four stalls, at least. And I would say that they probably are the equivalent or larger than for single occupancy restrooms. We did incorporate the airport model, which is no restroom doors, it's just screened entry, which they were very insistent upon from the beginning. And maybe we'll be seeing more of that, because that's the first hurdle is opening the door.

Michael Stickney :

One thing that I've enjoyed in my travels is the full height stalls. So speaking of air traveling and cross contamination that way, that would be something exciting to see implemented.

Ken Best :

Well, there's issues unfortunately with the full height stalls. You may as well build an individual toilet room because the full height stall's got to have its own mechanical system. If you've got floor drains, it doesn't work too well with floor drains unless they're in the room. Same with sprinkler heads, you got to have a sprinkler head in the rooms. There's a number of challenges that go along with that. And plus the fact that if it's an accessible restroom, it's got to be another six inches wider because you don't have the gap under the partitions for a wheelchair to turn around. By the time you get through that, you may as well build an individual toilet room.

Lan Ying Ip :

I'd be curious to know if some libraries would just go about doing this on their own because we're hearing that from a lot of clients that are just going about renovating their existing facilities, changing all of their bathrooms over into the single user bathrooms with a toilet and a sink. So I don't know if in the library world that would come to pass or if anybody here has heard of that already happening.

Sindu Meier :

But this going to single use toilets. I mean, it solves some problems like COVID and gender neutrality but makes the opioid issue a little harder. We also tried the airport door method at the BPL and some of that was so that there's greater visibility for, or at least the idea that facilities could go in there at any time. So maybe you wouldn't think about misbehavior in those spaces.

Drayton Fair :

I think it's gonna be very challenging for libraries because bathrooms are an unfortunate necessity that for years public libraries have had problems with. I mean, whether it's clogged toilets or whether it's abuse of the facilities, or whether it's clogged floor drains, or overdoses in the bathrooms, or just the fact that library staff doesn't want to have to be cleaning bathrooms all day long. I mean, what do we do about disinfecting the bathroom after each use or at a certain amount of time? I think it's gonna be a challenge, certainly.

Cliff Gayley :

I think gets back to Stewart's issue about security and safety in light of what to do you, Drayton, just mentioned. So the airport model is one way but where do you put the bathrooms and how do you locate them within line of sight of somebody in the library staff so that people have a sense of who's coming and going, and somebody hasn't been in there for 20 minutes or whatever and maybe passed out or something. So placement and doing it in a way that people feel comfortable coming and going from it because it feels public and not down some dark corridor. One of the things that, it's funny to say, but we were quite proud of at BPL with the Johnson was getting a bathroom at every floor. And when we first started there, there was just all the bathrooms in the lower level. And it was not a great place to go down and see what was happening down there. But putting one at every floor just seemed like such a humane, basic thing to do. It's unglamorous but its core.

Mallory Demty :

I have one more comment. I'm curious if there's like a hybrid model? Doesn't have to go full into individual users, because that gets a lot of money as far as construction, it's construction forever, and also with HVAC. But maybe if there's sort of like this in between and sort of what you would see like in Europe where they have these little stalls and they're still made out of, you know, the actual stall partitions, but they're like six or eight inches off of the ground, but they have the toilets, but they have the smaller sinks in there, and it's all sort of self contained. But there's still one area like one little vestibule. So you don't have to create the individual bathrooms. But it's also still a compromise between just the typical gang room, and I would be interested to see that more common over here in the United States.

Stew Roberts :

We're actually doing a gender neutral toilet room at an elementary school in Cambridge right now. And sort of similar setup, there are shared sinks for all genders. And then there are the individual toilet facilities with the tall partitions, but they don't go all the way down to the floor. They don't go all the way to the ceiling. So that's a little bit of a hybrid, what you're talking about.

Lauren Stara :

Well, I know that a group of architects could talk about toilets for hours. HVAC, which I think is a very big topic. LLB.

Mallory Demty :

I think we sort of just want to preface this by saying we are not mechanical engineers. And this is sort of just what we've learned recently, because we have a library that's in Connecticut that just broke ground in May sort of when Corona hit the street. So we had to scramble to add a bunch of things to the project, which I'm sure everyone else is in a similar situation. So I think we're just going to sort of be prepared to talk about what we've learned. And this is, like I said, scratching the surface of what we've learned. To give you a background on the project, we are using VRF systems. These items that we're going to present are not specific to VRF systems, but they do work best I would say, with VRF systems, because this is what we were presented with, as far as options for the client. And someone else had used this earlier, like the Goldilocks scenario. There's sort of like how much money do you want to spend right now? And how much you can we afford to now that the infrastructure and design is complete? Pretty much the three or four things that we've learned is if you're in the beginning of a project and you've got a bunch of time and you're in schematic, one of the best things to do would be thinking about UV technology. We say it's best during SD because this is something that would have a visual impact on the interior space. UV technology is very often seen in the healthcare industry or medical industry, I should say, in surgery rooms, ER rooms. And so there's this actual fixture that is mounted. The air would pass through that would help to kill the virus and any bacteria, but some of the negatives are, you can see it in the interior space, you really shouldn't look right at it, it's damaging to your eyes, and then maintenance wise it's a little bit difficult because you can't let that UV beam touch you or it's dangerous. So that was on the more extreme end that is an option available if you're in the beginning of design. And then some of the easier things were obviously we all know filtrations. Right now, we typically have filters that have a lower MERV rating of maybe seven or eight. And the Coronavirus in particular needs a MERV rating of a filter of 13. But in order to do that, you need to increase the electrical components, push the air harder to get through that smaller filter. There are good areas to bring filters in. But most likely, it's more often used on interior units as opposed to the outdoor units. Because in an ideal world, COVID isn't just floating in the outdoor air. And then the last thing before we get into natural ventilation that we learned as far as mechanically was air ionization, and it's oddly enough called the corona effect. This is the only time I'm going to use this term and then I'm going to forget it but it's like specific needle point, bipolar ionization and so basically thickens up the microns. So COVID is so tiny that what it does is this little unit is attached to every fan coil unit, and it sort of shoots out these ionizing beams, I guess, and the microns will get fatter. And when they get fatter, they're able to be caught by the regular filter. So like a MERV rating of seven or eight. And so either they're fat enough to be caught by a typical filter, or they'll just drop out of the air into the duct and that way, they're not like passed on. So that was the option that we ended up going with. The biggest thing that we should learn from this or keep in mind, though, is a byproduct of air ionization is ozone. But there is one manufacturer that is able to produce this unit and that doesn't have a byproduct of ozone. It is a proprietary unit and power draw's minimal so it can be added on to a project that you're working on now. And then you can integrate dry contacts into it and connect it into your BMS system to figure out if they stop working. Then the last item we want to talk about is operable units. And I know Michael did a lot of research on this, so I'm going to pass that one over to him.

Michael Stickney :

Yes, so in a more passive state what's best? Run your HVAC or open windows? It sort of seems one versus the other. No one knows what best to do. At this time, ASHRAE is recommending do not turn off your HVAC system. They're stating and going to stand behind the idea that you're getting cleaner, fresher air, and you're going to be less likely to get the virus while maintaining your HVAC system. Again, the idea is it's creating a climate, you sneeze, the droplets fall, the air is recirculated, the air is cleaned, and so forth. If you turn off the HVAC system, you're potentially leaving your comfort level of your body. Perhaps you're too warm, perhaps you start sweating, and you're more perceptive to receiving the virus. However, on the opposite side of this spectrum, over in Europe, ASHRAE's equivalent over in Europe, they're saying the actual opposite. They're saying in public spaces open all the windows. So unfortunately, ASHRAE who we should be listening to, is stating keep the HVAC systems going. Who's actually correct and who's leading us down the right path is yet to be determined.

Mallory Demty :

One thing to add as far as natural ventilation. As everyone knows, COVID is sort of like we're constantly learning new things about COVID every day. And so I think that's the problem is like, nobody can come to one conclusion and say what's best just because there's so much new information available to us. But one thing we do know is COVID is less likely transmitted in the outdoors, which is why we're more inclined to have natural ventilation. The difficulty with that is if let's say Mother Nature isn't playing nice and there's not a nice breeze or you know, there is an air movement and we are relying on a mechanical system in addition to that natural ventilation. That's sort of where it double breaks down, that you have to sort of mix the two system to kind of create that movement of air. And so that's what we've learned. And I wish it was a little bit more straightforward because we have the same issues as well. One thing that I am really glad that we all learned, at least from LLB, like through this process is that I used to hear the myth that mechanical engineers would say, oh, if you have operable windows, you're ruining my HVAC system, blah, blah, blah. That's actually not true. And it's mainly for human comfort. So I think, personally, it's best to have natural ventilation for comfort, but there's actually no scientifically-related like COVID research studies showing that natural ventilation is beneficial, more or less beneficial, I should say.

Lauren Stara :

So let's let Jeff wrap us up and anybody who's available to stay on can talk and add on.

Jeff Hoover :

Well, it was easy to be last because I just write down all the good stuff everybody said and use that as my talking points. But really the point is to figure out what's going to stick in terms of practices or changes to spaces that we're adopting and adapting for dealing with the virus and see what's gonna stay with us for a while. And so I had a list going before we started, and then I've added to it as we've gone along. And since we have just negative three minutes remaining, why don't I just share my screen and also share the list with everybody and I'll read through them as we go, and you can look at them at the same time. So some of the things that will stick is anything that we spent money on, because capital budgets are going to be increasingly challenged probably in the next several years compared to what they have been the last several years. So if we make a change now, you can bet that we're not going to invest more money in undoing that. Which actually brings me back down to the very last point is that flexibility and reversibility remain fundamental design principles. So as we think about being responsive to the virus, we ought to be also conscious about being responsive to the post pandemic condition which we look forward to very much. Some of the services and curbside service, including delivering laptops and hotspots as well as traditional collections, that's a service related thing, but we ought to be configuring back of house space to allow efficient delivery of these services that have been adopted by libraries everywhere. And certainly when a new service is offered up by the library, it's really difficult to backpedal and remove such a thing. So imagine these kinds of enhanced services are going to stick with us for some time. I put the note in here about digital magazines,. There was information out the other day, for I think it's OCLC's REALM project says that magazine pages still have trace amounts of the virus after four days, and they stopped the test after four days, so we don't know about that. But this transition from from physical collections to digital collections, there's certainly been enhanced movement in that direction. I think that some libraries are reporting like a 50% increase in circulation of their online materials over what they had been pre pandemic. I don't know how long that sticks, but once people have a pattern of behavior, they tend to continue with that. We talked about Wi Fi and parking lots, and that's important. Of course, we should think about communities where not everybody has a car and parking lots aren't the only environments but certainly the outdoor spaces of libraries being these enhanced Wi Fi access spots, something that was a trend before the virus. If I think about, you know, Boston Public Library's main library has the outdoor space outside the library as well as in the courtyard that's rife with this Wi Fi power. Anything we can do for self service will be great. Online card registrations. Again, it's not an infrastructure or architecture issue, but it does mean maybe we don't need to have that chair at the service desk for a patron to sit and fill out the library card. That probably is an interface thatdoesn't need to happen that way any longer. If we implement mechanisms to be able to reserve a study room at some interim phase of library reopening, and we're saying yeah, study rooms can be accessible now, meeting rooms for up to six people or something like that, if a reservation system is adapted, then it would probably be continuing. Oh, yes, and the notion of digital events, compounded with an in person program, I think, as Stuart mentioned, that it would be second nature now to record in person events for broadcasts to a wider audience. And certainly libraries are seeing the benefit of this kind of broader reach for their programming than ever before as they make them available online and not just to people who can happen to get to the library to view the presentation or engage with the author or whatever it might be. For staff spaces, which we skipped over a little bit, but making the kind of separations between staff work desks, meaning greater spatial distance is gonna be again a hard thing to come back on later and cram more people in the same amount of space. Encouraging work from home is something that we probably will all see in all industries that people will still be working from home to the extent that they can even post pandemic. The library is a interim emergency resource in general. A lot of facilities are incorporating that or have been incorporating that kind of planning for decades. But as libraries are cooling centers, or heating centers, or emergency communication centers, that functionality that we might build into the infrastructure to accommodate that will continue. Exit counters, entry and exit counters, maintain those. The notion of transitioning to smaller service points is probably still a good idea because we don't want to put two staff next to each other at a desk necessarily, so it could be a much smaller service desk. And early on, we were talking about furniture that makes one person sized space, that trend probably continuing, and then integrating into that the highperformance upholsteries that can be easily sanitized and taking lessons from the healthcare industry to figure out what kinds of selections we might make that would be appropriate for library design. And then we didn't really touch on it, but cleanable surfaces absolutely everywhere will be a, I don't know how effective it absolutely is in terms of preventing the spread of virus, but it's certainly a very visible representation of a sanitizable building, not to have carpet. And that may be something that gains traction and transitions to those kinds of finishes, instead. We talked briefly about mobile partitions, and doing them in a way that is again sanitizable, but repositionable, and allowing patrons to sort of set up their own environment for the level that it makes them feel comfortable in terms of the amount of separation or connection between others. That'll be useful because not everybody has the same comfort level with what amounts to separation. So that might be a useful thing in terms of really catering to individual patron perspectives on library spaces. We're already doing translucent separations everywhere between workstations. Pulling the hand sanitization out of bathrooms. I wonder to what extent that sinks could be outside of restrooms as certain maybe European models have done, but also the notion of putting the sinks right in with the stall. Negative pressure, we didn't quite mention that under HVAC, but certainly negative pressure restrooms, and all the other changes we would make to restroom fixtures and equipment. The HVAC upgrades, MERV 13 is something that we're often designing to anyway, as we're trying to meet certain criteria for LEED credits, being able to sort of set the system so that it can default to a higher degree of outside air during pandemic like conditions or other such conditions and then be able to dial back to a normal percentage of outside air for back to normal operations after the pandemic. Incorporating some sort of air purification sanitization. Operable windows, and included here with the ASHRAE point about they still recommend conditioned air instead. And then improved connection to outdoor spaces from indoors and bringing some aspect of outdoors in and indoor functions out into space that can really work for library activities. And I mentioned that reversibility. We will get to a post pandemic place eventually. But we will probably find ourselves in some subsequent pre-pandemic or re-pandemic place, since viruses continue to emerge and evolve. And having developed the infrastructure and architecture and furnishings in a way that can be pandemic friendly, later, including building systems operations will be, I think, a useful planning strategy to incorporate in these facility designs. So that's what I came up with. Anybody else got stuff?

Ken Best :

The only thing that we really didn't talk about were actual entrances, you know, whether we go back to fully automated entrances, so the fewer doors we have to touch, get into a library, the better. So either fully automated or even push button operated would be better. And as Lauren knows, I've always been a fan of separate doors going into the libraries.

Lauren Stara :

Let's not talk about that today, Ken.

Ken Best :

But it addresses the COVID. You have an exit route and an entrance route into the building.

Lauren Stara :

True.

Sam Laskey :

This isn't necessarily very architectural question. But I'm just curious in terms of long lasting effect. Have you all been hearing about different library systems joining forces? You know, we're talking about online programming that extends the reach of libraries and whether different systems are reaching across political boundaries or community boundaries to kind of join forces to bring people more programming? Obviously, in our country, there's real estate segregation amongst communities that you wonder whether development of these online programming could reach across boundaries in ways that haven't happened yet and build opportunities or connection, so I wonder whether that's being talked about or your hearing about any of that sort of happening?

Ken Best :

I haven't heard anything about it, but it makes an awful lot of sense.

Sindu Meier :

I mean, Sam, I've heard about it in our neighborhood that we are pairing up with some of the local towns, and it's allowing us to do programming or get some bigger authors to talk because once you do it online, three towns can help share the costs, whereas it couldn't be if it was done in person.

Lauren Stara :

Yeah, I think there's a lot of interest in cooperative programming. Libraries do some of that, to some extent. I think Massachusetts in particular, or New England in particular is a difficult environment for cooperation across municipal boundaries, just politically. I know that regionally some libraries work together to do exactly what Sindu was talking about. And I think this experience of being able to attend programs literally worldwide is really opening people's eyes about the possibilities for it. I can see that happening more and more. So any overarching thoughts or final thoughts or words of wisdom that you've come up with over the last two hours? I really appreciate all the insights and your persistence in staying on.

Sam Laskey :

I would just say, a theme through all of this is, despite all these challenges, when someone, maybe it was you Sindu, talking about the kind of hunger for getting back into the libraries that people have. These are just such desired spaces in the communities that they, that they serve and are in. And the value of all this is that this is something that people found valuable beforehand and are hankering for at this point given maybe even a certain degree of monotony that settles in after a while. So remembering that is the underlying rationale for all this is very inspiring.

Lauren Stara :

And I think Carla's earlier point about psychological comfort being as important as real scientific sanitization and disinfecting of spaces is really important. That we need to communicate to our patrons that we are doing everything we can to make the libraries a safe space. And what that looks like, we're not quite sure yet, but I think it's critical.

Jeff Hoover :

Yeah, perception will be paramount, what people, patrons feel looks right to them. You know, so if we have upholstery that we know is sanitizable, but coming in as a patron, say, I don't know who sat there. I'm never sitting in an upholstered chair, again, it doesn't matter. But also, I think the other thing to recognize is the degree to which we need to be responsive, meaning libraries need to be responsible to whatever the community standard is for these kinds of spaces. Whatever is happening in the supermarket, in a coffee shop and whatever the library will be held to at least that standard, regardless of what, you know, we may think is right or wrong. It's what the community believes makes them feel safe, and we can defer to that, if there's any question really.

Sindu Meier :

As we talk about libraries as community spaces, they serve a lot of populations, whether it's the homeless population or the teens after school or children. And then whether they're helping with hunger relief, heat relief, or cooling. I think there are a lot of things that we have to get beyond how to get books and magazines to people.

Jeff Hoover :

An interesting side effect we haven't seen. While we have seen things like jeez, I guess I don't really need to go to the office every day and still function quite effectively. We haven't seen the general population saying jeez, I guess we really didn't need the library as a space anymore. I've been doing without it for a couple of months. The reaction is quite the opposite.

Andrea Bunker :

I think that desire to gather is just so overwhelming as human beings. I mean, I don't feel comfortable going to a restaurant, taking off a mask, and eating but plenty of people seem to be doing that because they want to that experience, again.

Sindu Meier :

And I see in our town and other towns like, as we have no clue what's going on with public schools reopening, these families trying to make these pods and clusters of five kids and supposedly homeschooling. And they're going to need a space for that to happen. And you know, I'm sure some of us are eyeing the libraries. How can we get back in there and do this homeschooling if the school can step up and do it for us?

Mallory Demty :

I think it's sort of like turns, I don't know who always says this, but it really turns the library into like the community's living room, it's going to be less about getting the books and the physical items. But getting, you know, as Andrea said, the physical gathering that's important to people and sort of just getting out of your own space and your own environment to be able to just sort of say hi to people. Like when I see my neighbor, I'm like, oh, gosh, hi, how are? You know, it's like foreign.

Angela Ward Hyatt :

When some of us had our MBLC construction projects halted temporarily due to, you know, being not considered essential, I think there's a whole bunch of us and the greater community that would beg to differ. It's really the other essential, it's a different kind of essential.

Sindu Meier :

And that I forgot to put on my list, but we were using the library in our town to get seniors out of isolation and really draw them in because it's probably one of the few places. They don't always go to the Council of aging, or not every town has one of those but most towns have a library.

Michael Stickney :

This is a really unfortunate circumstances that we're meeting and having to discuss, but I truly believe architecture, design, and libraries are going to come back on the other side of things better and stronger as we continue to think beyond what the standard practice has been in the past.

Sam Laskey :

To Mallory's point about just seeing people and saying, hello, it's very nice to just see a bunch of our colleagues. So nice to see some of you and meet some of you, too, so thank you so much.

Lauren Stara :

Yeah. Thank you.

Carla Ceruzzi :

Thank you. Thanks. It was, this was a great discussion.

Andrea Bunker :

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Building Literacy: Public Library Construction. Join us next time as we hear from directors, trustees and an expert consultant on the topic of advocacy. We cover both extraordinary wins and crushing losses to garner the best lessons learned for your own capital project. Until next time. Transcribed by https://otter.ai