The creation of the Russell Memorial Library evolved from a true sense of community and values that recognized the importance of a library as central to community life and well-being. Eighty years ago, George Russell saw the need for a growing town to have the facilities to make it a good place to live. Mr. Russell’s gift to the town of a new library was both generous and foresighted. The Russell Memorial Library has served the town well for many years and is as relevant today as it was in 1930. The library still strives to meeting the community’s needs for information, education and recreation and serves to help Acushnet grow into a wonderful place to learn, work and live.
The library, currently housed in a 3,600 square foot building on a 15,000 square foot lot, was built in 1930 to serve a population of 4,092. Acushnet has grown to over 10,000 and no additions or renovations have been made. Although the current Library building does possess some admirable design characteristics, the age, size and location of the building create a number of problems including no handicap accessibility, inadequate restroom facilities, and limited parking. Its infrastructure is inadequate to provide for the volume of customer traffic and the changing nature of library services. There is not enough space for appropriately sized collections, public access workstations, needed service points or adequate seating. The lack of shelf space has required many books, movies, and other materials to be discarded in order to make room for new acquisitions. All services and materials exist in one area, creating conflict between computer users, teens, seniors, researchers, recreational readers, children and those seeking quiet space. The current building does not provide the space or the features needed to meet the library resource needs of Acushnet today or of the future.
The future Acushnet Public Library envisioned in this Building Program will be a center of community services that reflects the diverse needs of all ages and interests. The library will build on past achievements, current strengths, and future aspirations to develop a library capable of meeting the next century of public library service.
- The building will be universally accessible so people of all physical abilities will have full and equal access to services and programs.
- Flexibility for future trends in library resources and technology will be figured into the design.
- The library will use green and sustainable design solutions to build a library that has environmental, economic, and health benefits to the community.
- Access to technology will be available throughout the building through planned network connections, wireless routers, electrical supply, and cable channeling.
- Clear sightlines from public service desks will give maximum supervision and greater security of the library space with minimal staffing.
Quality service to the entire community is a public library’s basic responsibility. Every community includes children, young adults, adults and seniors; each of these groups has needs that must be considered when developing library services. This building program outlines the services and the spaces needed to provide modern library service to Acushnet for at least the next twenty years.
Some of the specific recommendations in the program include:
- Increasing the overall size of the collection to 50,400 items to meet a basic level of service.
- Building a children’s book collection that meets the critical literacy needs of early readers; the collection will grow from 9,950 to 16,175 titles.
- Defining separate areas where young children, teens, professionals, families, and seniors can use the library in a way that meets their specific needs.
- Providing a space for library-sponsored programs and where community groups can gather during or after library hours that will accomodate 100 people.
- Effectively distributing 72 seating spaces throughout the building in comfortable and convenient areas.
- Planning for off-street parking, outside book returns, and building entrances that maximize accessibility and convenience.
- Realizing the potential for future community growth and designing a library of approx. 14,500 square feet that will serve future generations of Acushnet residents.
Planning for libraries is a process of perceiving the future of both the community and the library and setting a direction for movement toward that future vision. Since library buildings are an important capital investment for most communities, it is crucial that they be planned to respond to current and future needs. This building program uses a twenty-year planning horizon. The projections of future library collection size and services contained in this report are based on the area descriptions created by the Library Staff and general library practice. In addition, projections come from the community’s expression of priorities determined through the long range planning process.
A building program statement is a written summary of library service goals, projected space needs, and a vision of how departments or service areas within a library should interact to achieve those goals effectively. The Library Building Program articulates the library's vision of its future and serves as a set of instructions to the architect. In the end, it is a document that first serves as a focus for consensus on what the building should be, then as a document from which the architect develops the design, and finally, as a yardstick against which to measure the actual design.
While much discussion will take place between the library’s building committee and an architect to design a library that meets the specific community needs, the goal of this plan is to provide Acushnet with a facility that brings together differing ages, backgrounds, and points of view in a vibrant, comfortable, and welcoming environment.