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Open house reveals remodeling concepts at Pleasant Hill Library

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The second concept shows an addition to the meeting room that would cost $300,000 more than the first concept.2 / 4
The third concept would cost an additional $800,000 and it would have an addition to the meeting room and include extra room for a kids area and Makers space.3 / 4
The first option shows a concept with spatial reconfiguration of the current library structure.4 / 4

Community members had the opportunity to comment on three floor design concepts for the Pleasant Hill Improvement Project at the library's open house Thursday, Feb. 9.

Margaret Stone, the library director for Dakota County Library, said that Pleasant Hill Library has not been renovated since it was initially built in 1994. The way people use libraries today is very different than it was in the 90s, she said.

"People come in now and they need collaborative space, they need a place to plug in their device and they need to be able to get power and data," Stone said.

A comprehensive needs assessment study was completed to collect information about the current facility and identify the needs for improvement. Joe Bower, architect at Leo A Daly, was a consultant for the study.

Bower said that they evaluated the existing systems and structure and determined the needs for Pleasant Hill as it fits in the Dakota County system. He said that the planning committee for the library looked at population projections, circulation, trends across the entire county and took into account that Hastings is on the east end of the county.

"We have a strong sense of where the needs are; we've been in the library, we watched patrons use the space, we could see what works and what doesn't," Bower said.

The three schematic designs that were on display at the open house were the results of the study. Bower said that the concepts were designed to not only look at solving the issues in the library for the library users of today, but also to solve the issues for library users in the future.

"It's trends where people are interacting with each other with devices and technology and books and what they're expecting from libraries, so we just try to stay with that trend so it's relevant in 15 years," Bower said.

Mike Slavik, the Dakota County Commissioner for District 1, said that the county board currently has a budget of $2.8 million for the Pleasant Hill Library renovation. The first of the three concepts created would stay within that budget by using the current floor plan and readjusting and updating for technology. Concepts B and C would add additional space and would cost more than what was originally in the budget. If one of those concepts is chosen, it would involve a budget amendment, which would likely be taken out of the five-year capital improvement planning fund, Slavik said.

Concept B would cost an additional $300,000, but it would add additional space to the meeting room. Concept C would cost an additional $800,000 and would include an addition to the meeting room as well as expanded space in the library, which would include a Maker's Space. The space is interactive and would act as a component of next generation libraries, Slavik said. In addition, the children's area would be larger and it would have space that would allow for greater opportunity for interaction.

Slavik said that the comments from the community will be used to decipher what the residents and users of the library feel is the most valuable.

"Ultimately the seven county board members will decide if any of these (concepts) are more valuable or not," Slavik said.

The open house was used to get some public input on the designs before all the options are taken to the library advisory committee. Slavik said that there will be another opportunity for the public to weigh in on the renovations once the designer is hired. The next public comment opportunity will likely be in the summer or fall of 2017, right before the bid process, Slavik said.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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