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Council Report: Library leaders lay out master plan

February 18,2020

See full Fort Worth Business Press article by Rick Mauch here.

Tuesday's Fort Worth City Council work session included a briefing from Fort Worth Library Director Manya Shorr on the Library Facilities Master Plan.

“We haven't kept up with the incredible growth Fort Worth has experienced," Shorr said. "Sixty percent of Fort Worth lives outside the Loop, but 80 percent of our library locations are inside. Many of the branches we have are not adequate for 21st-Century library services.”

The Master Plan objectives include:

*Assessing the condition of current library facilities.

*Assessing the capacity for 21st century library service.

*Exploring alternative service delivery models and partnerships.

*Recommending current facility improvements and new location needs.

*Identifying near-term and long-term priorities.

*Identifying appropriate metrics to guide action.

*Developing a realistic, implementable, and flexible plan.

Assessment findings concluded:

*Library buildings in Fort Worth are well-maintained.

*Library space is not keeping up with population growth.

*Library buildings in Fort Worth aren’t aligned with 21st century service.

*Central Library has the potential for better connectivity and bigger impact.

The Plan addresses misalignments and misconnections at the Central Library, which include:

*Space is inefficiently used - some Library functions don’t fit well in the current location.

*Disconnected from other city departments and potential partners.

*Inconsistent with surrounding commercial development.

*Disconnected from center of activity in downtown Fort Worth.

Opportunities in a new Central Library, which is being considered by the city, include an improved location to raise the profile for increased usage, better space for programs and collaboration, and improved connectivity and synergy with other city departments.

Recommendations from the Master Plan include renovating the library's existing branches, building more libraries, enhancing library access with alternative service delivery and partnerships, and relocating selected library functions.

Renovations would call for addressing life cycle maintenance needs, improving flexibility and adaptability, re-balancing and enhancing space for people and programs, updating staff service points, and improving customer service and experience.

To enhance public access, branches could be built beyond the loop, alternate service delivery strategies could be implemented, new facility models could be studied and implemented, and partnerships could be established, such as public/private, non-profit, inter-department.

Looking ahead between now and the next two decades, the Master Plan recommending the renovating of the branches in Riverside, East Berry, Seminary South, Wedgwood, Northside, Ridglea, Southwest Regional, Diamond Hill-Jarvis,, Ella Mae Shamblee, and East Regional.

The Master Plan also recommends replacing eSkills, expanding Summerglen, and adding 100,000 square feet of branch library space in North, West, and South zones (locations/ sites to be determined).

Suggested relocations, along with the Central Library, are genealogy, local history, and archives.

Locations for enhanced access, and strategies, are yet to be determined.

Location Mentioned: Central Library