Why does Winter Park need a new Library building?

Winter Park Public Library LibrariansThirteen professional librarians. 187 years of librarianship among them.
They unanimously agree that Winter Park's library services needs are not being met and that the intrinsic deficiencies of the current facility limit their ability to serve your community.
(Pictured at right: Marina Sobolevskaya, Sabrina Smith, Shanna Kuster, Barbara White, Melissa Schneider, Nicole Heintzelman, Cherilyn Taylor, Lisa Blue, Jody Lazar, Grace Moore, Shawn Shaffer. Not pictured: Evelyn Malles and Brittany Reinholt)

The need for a new library facility is clear. YES, Winter Park needs a new library facility.

The library's Board of Trustees studied the issue 10 months and the City's Library Facilities Task Force studied it for another 12 months. These careful analyses discovered that the current library facility shortchanges children, families and citizens by lacking ALL of the following:

  • space for books and other materials, most notably those for children
  • rooms for children’s programs
  • learning spaces for early childhood education
  • safe and fully accessible stairwells, elevators and restrooms
  • areas for technology training and education
  • dedicated quiet areas for study or reading
  • meeting rooms for tutors, literacy training and group collaboration
  • adequate and climate-controlled space for the Winter Park History Collection
  • accessible shelving for children, the elderly, those with mobility disabilities, and the sight impaired
  • data lines capable of meeting modern data needs
  • electrical capacity to serve current technology need
  • space for display of community art including the Winter Park Sidewalk Best of Show winners
  • flexibility in spaces so the library can easily evolve as the community’s needs change
  • space for new, innovative services
  • adequate parking, especially for parents of small children and 

Without a degree from Hogwarts, not even the best architect can design a renovation capable of creating the kind of space required to fully meet the community’s 21st century library needs.

The proposed new library facility will have the capacity to house up to 170,000 physical items (compared to a current collection of 127,823). That allows for a 33% larger collection, meaning we will have room to add much needed materials and room to grow for decades to come. The new library facility increases reader seating areas by 560%, meeting space by 43%, technology space by at least 300%... much of which will be targeted toward children and families.

The lack of space has led to extreme culling of the collection, which was seriously impacted the quality of what we offer to our residents. In 2012-2013, the Library was forced to weed around 33,000 items, almost a quarter of its physical collection in order to make room for new materials and to improve access for the mobility and sight impaired. Over 40% of the adult fiction in the collection was removed at this time! These were not unused or outdated books removed through careful collection management. This was J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King and Michael Chrichton. These were books that could have and should have remained available to our community for many years but were removed because there was nowhere to keep them. In the children’s areas, for every book added, one book must be removed. The children’s collection has not grown at all in five years.

The lack of space means our own programs compete with each other for space in a way that is not just inconvenient… it compromises what we are able to offer to our community. Libraries providing 21st century services provide technology training and makerspaces that allow people to create apps, videos, graphics and other media. The WPPL isn’t able to provide these in a meaningful way.

The lack of space means that shelves are 12 – 24 inches taller than library-world guidelines say they should be and maintain accessibility. If you lower that shelf height to increase accessibility, you need more space.

There are 13 professional librarians on staff who serve this community every day and ALL of them agree that we need a new building. Nationally known consultants agree that a new facility is necessary. The City's citizen-led Library Facility Task Force agreed. The City Commission uninimously agreed. When in Winter Park can you recall that much agreement? YES, the community needs a new library.

February 26, 2016