PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
What is the most important thing about a public library?
When the public is surveyed, what concerns them about their public library?
The quality of the collections, from books to DVDs, to Internet access.
The programs offered to the public, the offerings of programs to encourage children to read.
The ability to find and borrow things from other libraries.
Yes, all of the above appear on survey forms whenever we have asked the public what they want to see in their library.
The other comment that always appears is physical access to the library building, and the availability of parking.
Just like any business today, the customer must be able to park their car, and enter the building to use the services of the public library.
Over the years, the library system has allocated funds to purchase and develop parking around all of our library buildings.
In the past year, we have expanded parking facilities at the Adena and Toronto Branches, as well as the Main Library.
Each time, we are met with positive comments from the public, as they are able to park their car and access their library.
At Adena, a small off-street parking lot was acquired across Hanna Ave. from the library.
At Toronto, several additional spaces were added to the existing lot with the purchase of the only remaining house on the block with the library.
At the Main Library, the library acquired a house on Slack Street to make a 20-car off-street parking lot.
They aren't new books, but are just as important for the public using a library.
When I was interviewed for the position of Library Director in 1983, I circled the block several times before finding a parking space on the street.
The most common comment to me related to the lack of parking around the Main Library.
In the years since, the library system has acquired 8 houses and 2 commercial buildings to provide 35 off-street parking spaces for the library, and widened S. 4th Street to provide safer on street parking for another 15 cars.
Planning for parking requires that you evaluate the maximum need for parking.
Our Schiappa Branch's 100-car parking lot has lots of additional spaces on a weekday, but if the meeting room is being used, the lot is nearly full.
Building access, as mentioned in surveys, also relates to the physical entry to the building.
Our branch libraries are all now accessible, only the Main Library falls short in that area.
The 1902 Main Library was constructed in an era of steps and walkways, with no concept of accessibility.
Reviews have shown that making that building "accessible" will be difficult and expensive since there is no street-level access to the building.
So, for now, we will find other ways of servicing the public within the limitations of that building.
When you pull your car into a parking space at the library, remember the years of planning and work that went into that part of library service.