Adult Focus Group Comments

Adult Focus Group Comments

Community Ideas for the New Southwest Library

What are your overall thoughts about the new building? Do you have ideas about what you would like the character or feeling of the library to be? What types of materials would you like to see?


I’d like to see a feeling of openness. Lots of windows. Light colors

Half-walls to separate spaces to maintain good site lines

Good sight lines are important

More light coming in from outside. Natural lighting

Airiness, natural materials, glass. Bring the outside inside.

Wood or faux wood would be warm.

Easy chairs. As people get older, we prefer comfortable chairs.

Comfortable seating and a table to put coffee on

Natural plants indoors

Incorporate something telling you it is the SW Waterfront neighborhood. Natural hues. Blues/Greens

A water feature would be nice.

Eventually, this building will be surrounded by tall buildings, so we need to think about the lighting that is coming in.

On the exterior, I would like the design to pay deference to Southwest as a treasure chest of mid-century modern architecture. The design should respect that on the outside. The house for the minister at the church is a classic example.

I would like to see big windows with lots of light. I care less about the mid-century modern.

I would like it to be a light, bright space.

I’d like to see a mix of spaces – some open and social, some quiet and private.

Program room should be more integrated into the library. Currently, it is hard to find – you don’t just happen on it, so unless you know a program is happening, you won’t discover it. Also it has no windows, so it is not inviting.

I think people would support an additional floor on the building in order to get the meeting room above ground.

Acoustics are important. The current program room echoes. The HVAC system is noisy.  And the lighting is terrible. It is not inviting.

I want quiet, relaxed and soothing. The library is not a playground. The playground is outside.

Program room for Zumba should be sound-proofed.

I love the Zumba class. It would be nice to have a space that is better designed for that class.

Do you have thoughts about which floor should house the children’s room and which floor should house the adult reading room/collection? If so, please share your reasons why.


For protection, I think the kids should not be on the first floor. Also it is easier on the older patrons if the kids are upstairs. They can make noise upstairs and not bother other customers.

People come in strollers, so I guess it makes sense to put it on the 1st floor.

But you also need to think about ADA and older folks. If you put the adults upstairs, the elevator needs to be easily visible – and it needs to work reliably.

I like the idea of keeping the kids upstairs. Once they are up there, kids are safer from people stealing them. Also, when you enter the first floor, it creates a moment where children have to calm down – as they come inside.

By putting the kids upstairs, they are not interrupting people who just want to grab items and go.

I’d like to see more integration of the kids and teens area. Right now they are too separated. Seems like some kids who are ready to move to the next reading level can’t find material upstairs that is appropriate for them.

Older kids should have their own computer area. A lot of teens bring younger siblings, so having teens near kids could help.

I would prefer to keep the teens separate from the youngest children. I have young kids and I don’t want the teens anywhere near my kids.

Maybe just have a connection between the two spaces. Or have them adjacent to each other.

It would be nice to have the Friends space on the lower level. Currently, the Friends store a lot of stuff on the second floor. It takes up a lot of space.

Would you like to see any outdoor spaces incorporated into the design?


I’d like to see a roof deck. A place to relax and read.

Make sure the library interacts well with the park area next door. Right now, it feels like the park faces a blank wall and a street. It doesn’t feel connected, yet a lot of folks use both. Kids play and then come inside. Perhaps think about a direct view to the park.

More glass will help tie the park in. Maybe a patio with WiFi.

It would be nice to get DPR to fix the park while the library is being rebuilt. It is in terrible condition. Integrating the outdoors would be something the community would value.

Include/showcase some aspects of Southwest neighborhood history. The library has photos of historical Southwest. Famous people came from SW. Two Supreme Court justices. Musicians like Al Jolsen.

Maybe put a mural in the children’s room featuring famous folks.

Mid-century modern River Park has the same windows.

The Southwest neighborhood was the first urban renewal area in the country. It was a model. Several famous architects, including I.M. Pei, contributed buildings and designed landscaping. Pay homage to that. Leo Leoni mosaic in Capital Park could serve as inspiration for a treatment in the children’s room.

The duck pond is a good example of smart use of outdoor space. Someone added rocking chairs a while ago and it made it more inviting. The library could think about activating all around the building – not just the front.

It would be nice to have a roof garden. We used to have a garden club as an after school activity where kids could learn about gardening. So, not just a green roof, but also space for programming.

How frequently, in your opinion, are customers unable to book a meeting room because when they inquire, the rooms already are booked?


It can be difficult to book a room. Sundays are easier but evenings are tough. Especially Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We sometimes use the children’s room.

There is a real lack of space to meet in this community. It is nice to have spaces for a class or some cause that people want to meet about. What would be ideal is to have a room that can be subdivided so that you can have multiple things going on at the same time.

I would hope the library can play a role in providing space for the community. There are no spaces that are free other than the library.

I don’t book the meeting room for large groups because of the acoustics.

We [condo association] stopped using it because you have to be out by 9 p.m.

There is really only one room here.

Tutors use the small room, but it can be hard to book – it is in high demand.

It would be nice to have a few room sizes to choose from.

I would prefer to see an extra floor put on the building than have the meeting room in the basement.

Maybe a room that could accommodate 150 people, but could be divided in two.

It is important to use good quality materials to ensure sound proofing. Don’t cheap out on materials.

Are there programs that you would like to hold at the Southwest Library but currently can’t because the space is not conducive? If so, what type of programs would you like to host?


It is not so much the capacity of the room as it is the hours of the library. There are meetings that would be held at the library, but they are not over by 9 p.m.

I’d like having a meeting room to hold events like Zumba. You would need to think about having the right kind of flooring to accommodate that.

Might be nice to have a kitchen. Refrigerator and counter space. Space to prepare light refreshments

There is a big initiative for aging in place in the neighborhood. At the same time, there are more kids in the neighborhood of late. The population is booming. We need more space for everyone.

I feel like we need more space for books, I never have trouble finding something to read, but I find when I want a specific book, it is never on the shelf. I feel like Shaw has more books on the shelf. I can always request a hold, but it is frustrating that I always have to wait.

We don’t get that many new books. If you counted the shelves here vs. the shelves at Shaw, there are so many more there.

I thought with MLK closing, we would see more new books here, but it seems like we haven’t.

I personally always use the holds system, so I don’t feel any shortage of books.

You have to know the book is there to go look for it in the system. But if I don’t know one of my favorite authors has a new book out, how do I know to request it?

One of the joys of a library over a Kindle is browsing.

Find space for a self-checkout machine. It is so nice to not have to stand in line.

The staff here is very mixed. Some are wonderful; some you feel like you are bothering them. It would be nice not to have to bother them to check books out.

Turn the volume down on the self-check machine. It is so loud.

The Library needs a better calendar system for events. And better promotion of events.

I have friends who come here to do work. Keep that in mind in the design.

For Southwest community garden, we used to have our meeting here. We had a hard time booking the room and the room is too large. The group only needed space for 15-20 people.

Work space that is quiet and conducive to working or reading. A place to put sit with your laptop.

I don’t tend to stay here. Make it a place that you want to spend time.

I like the round table with low leather chairs. They are comfortable.

Low furniture can be a problem for older folks. Be sure to include chairs that are sturdy and have arms.

Maybe have a coffee bar.

I worry that a coffee bar causes trash, spills and crumbs. It can become a place where customers without homes hang out all day.

Keep as much of the kids’ stuff as you can. We use it heavily.

Funky mid-century modern furniture would be great.

Include areas where people can work. Small rooms could be for people to talk and then the open spaces could be quiet.

Computer area is good for people who don’t have access at home.

I don’t feel like there is a clear place at the circulation desk to return books. I always worry about whether the staff is going to check my books back in. I worry another customer is going to come take my return before it is checked in.

Think about the book return when the library is closed.

A way to return book that feels more secure. Something integrated into the counter.

A slot to drop the books

My old library had lockers that allowed you to pick up a hold after hours.
(Ann Arbor Public Library.) It is also nice for privacy.

Let’s talk about Technology.  How frequently do you use:
-public access computers
-free WiFi
-do you have a preference for laptop vs. desktop computers?


I use the public computers.

I only use the express computers to look something up.

I use WiFi with my own devices.

I like to use the express computers. It is easier than having to sign up to use a machine. I just need it for a few minutes.

I do like having staff that are trained and can help me with my technology questions.

Given how quickly technology changes, you need to design the building to be flexible. Things become outmoded quickly. The question is what is the purpose of the device?

Teleconferencing capabilities would be nice. Connect to meetings in other locations. No more projectors. LCD TVs are better.
Projectors are clunky.

Have a big screen where you could stream something in from another location. Having a few would be good.

I would use WiFi more if the space were more pleasant. Right now, I tend to grab my hold and leave.

Other folks definitely use the computers.

Laptops would get stolen.

It would be nice to take a laptop up to a roof deck.

I would love to borrow a laptop.

I’d like to see a digital bar to see what books are available. The catalog interface is complicated. We need a place to browse electronic titles.

A lot of people don’t know about Overdrive. It would be nice to have a space that would help raise awareness about it.

Do you have thoughts about where you would like the entrance of the building to be?


Don’t want the building opening out to the garden/park. Late at night it is scary. They would have to revise the lighting and plantings.
There are places that people can conceal themselves.

One suggestion is to put the entrance in line with the duck pond toward 4th Street. We need to think about where people will be walking in the future. I think there is going to be an alley along the CVS. The only access from 4th St. will be past the church. Maybe an entrance at the corner could work.

Lighting at the entrance will be important.  The sidewalk behind the church will stay. Councilmember Allen has a vision of the sidewalk from the duck pond serving as a promenade.

I like the fact that the entrance is facing Wesley Place.

I don’t want it to open it onto the playground. It will create another dynamic. We definitely need more outdoor community space separate from the playground.

The façade should be more welcoming. Landscaping needs attention. It gets a lot of traffic, so it needs to be durable, but it should be more inviting.

New books for adults right now are all the way across the room from the entrance. It would be nice to have new books right at the entrance.

One thing I do like about the current library is that the staff can really see everything. I wouldn’t want the reference desk tucked away.
Circulation Desk faces in with a view toward stacks; Reference desk faces across. They have good coverage.

I don’t have a feeling that I am unsafe anywhere in this building.

I would like to see the stairwells more open/integrated into the building.
 

Please share any other thoughts or concerns you have for the new library.


The building should have recycling cans in public spaces. Right now, there are just trash cans and everything goes in the same can. I take my bottles/cans home with me because I don’t want to throw them in with the trash.

Friends space – we would like a space about the size of the closet we have now within our space. We need to store an inventory of books for our sale. We have a small number of books on a permanent sale space. Friends space should be close to the meeting room so that we can roll carts out for sales.

Study Rooms. It would be nice to have a variety of sizes for 2 to 8 people.

Music practice rooms. Sound proof space for music lessons or practice

Services for the visually impaired and hard of hearing would be helpful.

Use flooring that is adaptable for older residents. Have the Office on Aging advise on finishes that are elderly-friendly. 

It would be nice to have handicapped parking spaces in front of the building – or closer to the entrance. Right now, having them in the back is too far to walk.

Bathrooms. Staff spends a lot of time handing out the bathroom key. Multi-stall bathroom would be better so it wouldn’t have to be locked. Good site lines can help with security

Get higher definition security cameras.

Light, portable tables with wheels. Larger tables that fold up.

Location of the elevator: Right now, it is in the back. Have it in a more central location. Closer to the front as you come in. Make sure it is large enough to accommodate multiple strollers.

I would like to see space for an event outdoors. Story Time under a tree with the fire department. Need to keep some green space around the library.

Would be nice to have a 3rd level where there could be small offices for a couple of non-profits that have missions that are complementary to the library. Perhaps an incubator space for small groups that are trying to get started. They could also do programming at the library. St. Augustine’s has an office for Seabury. Waterfront Village also will have a small space in the church.

Parking is important. Both for customers and staff. Parking is a tool to attract for people to more programs.

 
Southwest Library Focus Group
Greenleaf Gardens
11-9-2017
 
8 participants

When is the last time that you visited the Southwest Library?
This past summer, I went 2-3 times a week with my grandkids.
Daily. I take the kids that I babysit. I take them to the story times.
I haven’t been in the past months, but my son who is 9 goes there every week.
My kids go twice a week.
I go occasionally.
 
Is there anything you would like to share about your recent visits?
I don’t like adults coming upstairs to use the bathroom because it is the children’s floor. They shouldn’t allow that.
It is too crowded. I use the Shaw Library. It has different areas, like the conference rooms. I prefer it’s more updated look.
I like the private study rooms at the Benning Library. They have great sound proofing, so I can study and read without being disturbed.
 
What Programs and Services do you use most frequently at the library?
Just the kid’s story times.
There are no adult programs.
My son never goes upstairs.
I use the computers.
 
What programs would you like the library to offer that they currently don’t?
I wish they would offer job help and resume help.
They should offer the EDP Program, run by CASA. You get a high school diploma. Just like the GED.
Need more bathrooms.
Support groups.
The library should act as a resource center.
Literacy programs. There are lots of adults in this area who need that.
Computer classes
Need more computers
Space to enable people to study quietly
Exercise class. Go-Go, Zumba
Need to do better outreach to let community know what programs are offered.
After school tutoring for kids
 
Let’s talk about the technology services, like computers and WiFi at the library. What services do you use? If you use the computers, do you have a preference for desktops or laptops?
I like to use the computers.
I find there is often a wait to use a computer. They need to have more.
No preference for laptop vs. desk top
I would like to get help with my resume and online job applications.
Job development. Job Fair – bring the employers to the library.
 
Is there anything else you would like to share with the design team?
There is no high school in the Southwest neighborhood. As a result, we have a higher dropout rate because kids don’t want to travel far to get to school. The Library could provide additional support to these teens and help teens who dropout to get their GED.
I like the idea that the library would face the playground. It would make it more welcoming for kids.
I would like to see a better playground – currently it is only for toddlers.
Need better lighting outside the library. It is not safe after dark.
Maybe the library could institute a buddy system with the parents to make sure the kids are safe on their way home.
Start a Big Brother/Big Sister program at the library.
Mentoring program for the kids
Kids need a safe space after school.
Include lots of new technology for the kids. Music program for the students.
Mobile Library unit. More outreach.
Make the library welcoming.
Video Visitation.
Senior program. There is nothing close by for the seniors. Have a morning program for them.
Free legal clinic at the library. Neighborhood Legal Services.
Nutrition classes
Vocational Tech
Dress for Success
Interview Techniques
 
What schools do students in the neighborhood attend?
Amidon-Bowen
Richard Wright Charter School
Eagle Academy
Washington Globe
Apple Tree Pre-School
Eastern High School
YEA