The team of consultants retained by the Mary Riley Styles Public Library Board of Trustees to evaluate and make recommendations concerning the next 29 years’ needs for the popular downtown City of Falls Church library told the F.C. City Council tonight that their final recommendations, due in October, are leaning strongly toward an horizontal expansion of the library at its current location, with the inclusion of an additional 130 parking spaces, perhaps achieved by a “win-win” use of surface parking at an adjacent medical building to build a parking deck that could add a total of 200 new parking spaces and serve future needs at the nearby City Hall as well.
The team of Esoarc, Godfrey’s Associates and McMillan, Pazdan, Smith, with extensive experience in library development, assured the Council that contrary to popular myths these days, libraries are not going extinct due to the Internet, and never will. “There is not one library anywhere in the world that is planning to go smaller in size,” stated consultant Richard Waters. He said that certain things, like DVDs and CDs, will disappear because all that data will be downloadable off the Internet, but “books are permanent, they will be in use by us forever just as books now 400 years old still are.”
He said that the Mary Riley Styles Library “is at the perfect location,” and will be used far more in the future than it is now, because it is surrounded by residential, government and business institutions. “Its reaches more people than any part of City government, and for ages 0 to 5, it is critical for mental development.”
“The overwhelming opinion” in the vast numbers of interviews through focus groups and online that the consultant group did in Falls Church the last two months “favors the library remaining on the current site, because if is centrally located and has a synergy with City Hall and the Cherry Hill Park right across the street,” said library director Mary McMahon.
Architect David Moore told the Council that current library is “highly valued, loved and popular” at its current location, and that projecting out 20 years, it will need to grow from its current 18.500 square feet to 33,000 square feet to accommodate anticipated growth in use. In 20 years, it was projected, there will be demand for two million users a year.
They said that cost of the kind of expansion they are likely to recommend when the final report comes to the City Council on Oct. 14 will be $12 to $15 million, not counting any potential adjacent land acquisition or construction of a parking deck.
They said that a significant upgrade of the Virginia Room at the library would help to attract other collections to the library.