Community Library Committee Report

A. Needs Assessment

Members: Alison Cornish (Coordinator), Jim Posner, Alex Eames, Gloria Primm Brown, Priscilla Ciccariello, Gail Slevin, Susan Kinsella, Kristen Schiavon and *Christiane Neuville


The Needs Working Group was established by the CLC with a charge to describe the physical [and service] requirements necessary to provide quality public library service to the community served by the John Jermain Memorial Library. Our research has included:

  • a review of the materials from the JJML and the Elisabeth Martin study, provided to us by the CLC;
  • site visits, tours and conversations with the staff of the libraries in Southampton, Amagansett, Mattituck and Greenport;
  • interviews with all present JJML staff members, full- and part-time;
  • interviews with all JJML Trustees (including outgoing members);
  • regular meetings and conversations with both the working group and the CLC;
  • two “outreach” meetings, one with OLA, the other with a group of teens convened by Susann Farrell; and
  • “cross conversations” with members of the Outreach Working Group, including access to responses from their initial public survey.

We started with the assumption articulated by Jerry Nichols in his paper, John Jermain Memorial Library: Challenges and Issues, 2005, specifically:

“Ample time and effort has been spent detailing the inadequacies of the current facility for the provision of modern-day library services. All reasonable parties agree that significant issues exist in the need for greater space, seating, computer equipment, program areas and accessibility.”

To this we must add that the present library facility does not meet generally accepted standards of the library field, and is not in compliance with the Minimum Standards for Public Library Service of the New York State Education Department. In other words, because of the condition of the library, “the clock is ticking” towards the time that the library’s charter is endangered.

We have, to the best of our ability, tried to focus our interviews and recommendations on the library’s future rather than a reaction to the present conditions. Our conversation with JJML staff members asked for their “needs, wants, hopes and dreams” for the library. Even as staff recounted the struggles of working in an antiquated building plagued by material and system failures, they also expressed affection for and the desirability of the quality of the original building details such as the woodwork, and the “coziness” of the building.

We have also attempted to produce a document which is “location/building neutral.” This is not an easy task, and we believe that significant work remains to address the future of the existing library building, regardless of the future location of library services.

The result of our work thus far is the following list of “library program element characteristics.” It is our attempt to define services and programs by the designation of space(s). It is what we believe will provide all users of the JJML an appropriate level of service.

Before the specific elements, here are some general comments and limitations:

  • We have come to see that flexibility in library spaces has a high value. As materials change over time – witness videos to DVDs, for example – the space allotted to various collections may need to greatly expand or contract. Open plans and moveable storage units facilitate this need to be responsive to changes over time.
  • We, as a Working Group, recommend a library facility which is intergenerational in nature. We understand that our society as a whole is increasingly segregated by age in housing, education, recreation and leisure pursuits, and see a community institution such as a library to be all that more important as a place where the community’s residents encounter one another, all ages, and all walks of life.
  • We cannot, at this point, quantify the space required for these library program elements, nor answer the very important question, “for how long will this library be adequate for the community’s needs?”
  • We imagine that both the CLC and the public will “push back” against some of the recommendations we have made in the ever-present tension between “needs” and “wants. “
  • As presented, these “characteristics of program elements” are quite abstract, but in our conversations and site visits, we began to understand the importance of paying attention to the layout of a library – which spaces are adjacent to one another, and which are enclosed, especially in reference to quiet and noisiness; the importance of visibility and sight lines for both staff and the users; and areas and/or entrances that may be designated for specific users or times of day. These are “needs” not necessary reflected in the following notes.

Time and time again, in our deliberations, we were reminded that the “library building is not the library itself – the library is a vibrant and dynamic institution comprised of resources, programs and a devoted staff and Board.” And yet … without appropriate space, the John Jermain Memorial Library will no longer be able to function.

Characteristics of Program Elements:

  1. Entrance
    Easy for all, including the elderly, people with disabilities and children, to enter and exit. The entrance should set the tone for an entire facility easily accessible to all – ADA compliant, safe and inviting. The question of more than one entrance is left open, but the key issue is, can access to different areas be controlled for after-hours programming?
  2. Circulation Services
    A circulation desk with adequate working space for the staff, comfortable furnishings for working both seated and standing, and several nearby computer catalogs for the public. Good access (including consideration of the elements) to after-hours book drop. Include self-service check out.
  3. Technical Services
    A designated space to process materials and perform other technical services. Space to process deliveries
  4. Computer/Technology Services
    Computers designated and maintained for various user age groups, including adults, children and young adults. Some of these may have specialized uses, such as word processing/internet access/express e-mail for adults; online research materials for teens, and learning aids for young children. Space requirements include

    • computers and printers at work tables and/or carrels,
    • quiet work areas,
    • training room with adequate computers and learning tools (whiteboard, etc.),
    • area for viewing videos/DVDs as small group or individual, and
    • computer equipment & repair space and a network control/server room (may be combined in a single room)
    • Linked to historical collection: a digitization center for historical documents.
  5. Program/Meeting Areas
    For both library cultural and educational programming and for public programming, a meeting room suitable for 75–100 people, possibly dividable into smaller spaces, with

    • Adequate storage for chairs and other equipment.
    • An adjacent kitchen area with cooking/catering facilities.
    • Nearby bathrooms.
    • Exhibition space for artwork and historical materials.
    • As the library serves as a community resource center, space for bulletin boards, pamphlets, and community materials.
  6. Family and Children’s Services (children = birth – eleven/twelve years)
    • Shelf space that can accommodate an improved and expanded collection of children’s books, DVDs, tapes, and other circulating collections.
    • Program (craft) room with children’s sink, tables, and space for 25 children to work.
    • Computer area, with a nearby area for parents/adults to observe and wait.
    • Children’s and babies’ play and story areas.
    • Storage space for program supplies and toys.
    • Children’s bathroom with appropriately sized fixtures and changing area.
    • Entrance/egress that minimizes sound intrusion for other library areas, and reduces risks of nearby streets or parking lots.

    All children’s areas should be designed in such a way as to be easily cleaned and sanitized. Other key features: sound containment and good visibility.

  7. Young Adult Services
    Young Adult materials have seen enormous increases in circulation in the recent past. A separate space for teen collections and reference material that includes quiet study area, comfortable seating, and computers for research are essential. Youth would like to have a bulletin board or other wall space to make their own.
  8. Adult Services
    • Space for expanding adult collections, including fiction, non-fiction, non-book based materials on adequate and accessible shelving (well-lit, reachable on shelves well above the floor, and spacious aisles).
    • It is preferable to have all adult materials grouped together in one area.
    • Quiet study area, with both “desktop” and casual seating (not limited by age, but available to all wanting a quieter work environment).
    • Private tutoring rooms.
  9. Reference
    Reference needs include adequate shelving for “ready reference” materials, and an office adjoining the public areas for the reference librarian. Since the reference librarian responds to inquiries in person, by telephone and by e-mail, full technical services need to be a part of the reference area. Community services bulletin board for postings.
  10. Local History
    This valuable and important collection stands to be expanded if afforded a designated History Room with these characteristics:

    • Proper environment (temperature and humidity control, and archivally stable shelving)
    • Proper security
    • Storage space separated from work space to reduce fluctuations in environment
    • Appropriate type of fire suppression
    • Exhibit space
    • Large format photocopying and scanning capabilities (for use by staff)
    • Work area for large books, maps, and magazines
  11. Specialized Collections
    (i.e. Hispanic, African-American, John Steinbeck, other local authors, etc.) With a growing population whose first language is not English, foreign-language collections in all media will likely expand. There is particular interest in expanding the Spanish collection, and locating this near tutoring areas.
  12. Administration
    Segregated administrative offices for library director and bookkeeper.
  13. Staff Areas
    Designated staff bathroom, and staff lounge with adequate facilities for food storage and consumption (small refrigerator, sink and microwave). Secure area for staff belongings.
  14. Building Support (restrooms, maintenance, mechanical)
    Because of the state of the current building, thoughts here are centered on systems that provide an environment that is safe and healthy, with adequate lighting, plumbing, HVAC, electrical service, fire suppression and security systems. In addition, there are desires that the building be energy efficient, and that heating and cooling systems be zoned. A reminder that every service and program requires storage space. An adequate maintenance area with storage and slop sink is needed, along with work/office space for new maintenance/security/custodian staff member(s).
  15. Dedicated Space for the “Friends of the Library”
    This group, charged with financially supporting initiatives of the JJML, will continue to play a vital role in the future library. An office with telephone, computer, file and other storage, along with space for small meetings, is required.
  16. Miscellaneous
    • Telephone system with internal intercom.
    • Coat racks or closets throughout the building.
    • Adequate area dedicated to the sale of used books and other retail items.
    • A separate space for copiers, with workspace for collating and supplies.
  17. Transportation and Access
    Safe and accessible access/egress for arrival at site, which includes:

    • pedestrians (walking, wheelchair)
    • bicyclist
    • driver and car
    • bus rider
    • “drop off”
  18. Other Site Characteristics
    • Area for delivery trucks
    • Adequate parking for staff, users, and program attendees
    • Security lighting
    • Outdoor reading areas

1 Comment »

  1. Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological
    world all is available on web?

    Comment by free video chatting sites — March 28, 2016 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

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