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Consultant: Falmouth library needs nearly 50% more space

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Consultant: Falmouth library needs nearly 50% more space

FALMOUTH — A consultant says Falmouth Memorial Library needs approximately 46 percent more space to meet user demand over the next five years.

Consultant Nolan Lushington explained his findings in a nearly three-hour presentation and question-and-answer session Monday night at the library.

His report did not examine whether the library – now in a 10,900-square-foot building on Lunt Road – should move or expand, although Lushington did say the town should closely examine both options.

Lushington's suggestion of approximately 5,000 additional square feet is less than the recommendation of approximately 8,000 square feet the library board made after receiving a report in 2003 from another consultant, Jay Lucker.

Lushington said the bulk of his recommended space increases are for the children's and young adults' sections, and staff work areas.

He explained that a well-designed young adult section needs electronic and group work stations and a more informal atmosphere. He suggested adding video gaming materials to draw young adults to the library.

"Young adults flocked to libraries designed that way," he said, later adding that those who visit libraries to use video games or rent DVDs often take advantage of other more traditional services, such as books.

Lushington said he found the staff service area "rather shocking."

His recommendation is to break up the staff areas, separating a break room from the cataloging space.

He also suggested the library add a small cafe area, with chairs, tables and a coffee station.

Lushington said he is very comfortable with his recommendations, but that he hesitates to project any library's space needs beyond five years out.

"It's not solely the financial situation, but also the technological situation," he said. "Nobody knows where that's going."

Several members of the audience asked if Lushington knew how electronic books would affect the library's space needs and he reiterated that there is no way to predict that impact, which was why he no longer recommends libraries project their space needs out as far as 20 years.

Several town councilors asked if the town should consider combining the public and school libraries.

"Usually when that happens, one group doesn't use it," Lushington said.

He went on to explain that large classes coming in to use a library are often distracting for older visitors. Falmouth children's librarian Louise Capizzo said there are often books, such as biology and human sexuality texts, in adult libraries that are not appropriate for children and would have to be separated.

"In New York State, public libraries were run by the schools. That example is notorious in the library community as a failed experiment," Lushington said, adding that the state severed those ties after 10 years.

After Lushington's presentation, the council considered the time-line for moving forward with the discussion and seemed to reach a consensus that the library needs more space.

The timeline will be formalized at the council meeting on Monday, Oct. 25, where members of the public will be invited to comment for up to three minutes each on the Lushington report.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net