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Notes about Arlington County Library

Arlington County Library
Ann Friedman, Director, 703-358-3348, November 12, 1996

Telephone interview by Karen Carmean 547-1413

Three years ago they doubled the size of the library from 50,00 to 90,000 sq. feet. They have a central and six branches plus two smaller facilities at a detention center and a government building. Arlington has 180,000 population and 250,000 during the day. They have 26 sq. miles and they circulation is 2 million a year.

They built the addition, then tore down the old and rebuilt that space.

1. What was the most constructive/beneficial thing you did? They hired a project manager on staff who managed the logistics which was the best thing they did. Ann asked a prior question: ìCan you have both technology and a new Building? How must should you invest in a new building or should you invest in better technology? Can you really do both? Some people want monuments, but can you get the information to the people without new technology? If you are planning, you should carefully consider this question.î

2.What did you wish you did but didn't?

Wish we had more money to create extras- furnishings, a build-in contingency fund so that during the first and second years we could buy things as we see how the building is used and what is needed.

3. How did you gather information about needs from your constituencies

Planning was done by library staff. We have no library board because we have a county manager form of government and the library serves at the pleasure of the county manager. We have a friends of the library. There was good evidence of need for a new library be comparison with others libraries in this area.

4. Describe how you did or will go about planning for future needs?

We are involved in a major study of needs for fire stations and branch libraries in the area which includes renovation of the branches. There is a public process. We are just replacing existing buildings. Looking at how technology will take care of the issues. We are deeply concerned about the operating costs of a new building and staff- would cost at least $400,000 to run and staff a small new building so the money is better put into technology and outreach into other areas.

5. What advice, in general, would you give us?

I recommend better integration with school libraries. We have a common library system, but could do better planning and integration with them. Recommend better non-facility planning.

6. No pertinent literature.

Suggest talking to Patrick OíBrien of Alexandria VA 703-838-4524. Could consult Bob Rolf who is a consultant on planning library buildings. You might ask him what he would do for you and how much it would cost.