Baldwin looks for input to design youth services wing

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 30, 2017

Photo by Deb Jacques

BIRMINGHAM — Just as patrons are getting settled in to the newly remodeled adult services section of the Baldwin Public Library, administrators are inviting the public to create a wishlist for the next project on their agenda: the youth services wing.

Library Director Doug Koschik will host the input session 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at the library alongside architect Bob Ziegelman. Their goal will be to learn what parents and other patrons of the youth services section would like to see in an expanded and renovated space.

“We’re hoping we can get to this in 2019-20. That’s our current goal,” Koschik said.

When conceptual designs began in 2015 for a library renovation — a more modest one than the proposed $21.5 million bond that failed with voters the year before — Koschik said the estimated cost to expand and revamp the youth services section was around $2.1 million. That figure includes an inflation factor, but it’s unknown if that projection still stands or if the Birmingham City Commission will even approve the funds.

“Money raised through the Books and Bites (fundraiser) will help fund this, but that’s far from the only source of funding,” Koschik said. “The City Commission will need to decide in the future whether this proposed budget item will go ahead. Ultimately, it’s their decision.”

While Koschik thinks he has a good idea of some of the suggestions he’ll collect during the input session — like wider aisles between bookshelves and compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act specifications — he’s interested to see what else residents feel they need from their library.

“I’ve heard we need a bigger play area; a larger storytime area, since our storytime is very popular; updated technology; more seating for (visitors) young and old; and I even heard a bigger fish tank mentioned,” he said. “One thing visitors have said they’d like to preserve is the lighting. There’s a lot of windows and natural light that comes through the windows, and that’s something they’d like to maintain.”

Susan Dion, library specialist with the BPL, said a larger storytime room is on her wish list too. It’s hard, she said, to develop new programs and to continue existing programing — one of the library’s most popular amenities — without space to house those events.

“I do a program called Sing and Tell, which is for 2 1/2- and 3 1/2-year-olds. At that age, they like repetition, so after the story we do a march. We like to march in a circle with an instrument, but sometimes it’s so crowded in there they have to march in place. And it just gets really hot in there too,” she said. “And the strollers lined up in the hallway — it gets crazy.”

Dion said she’s hopeful that residents will be as excited to improve the library’s space for families as they were for the adult services section.

“What a great job they did on that, and it came in under budget. Hopefully, the community will support this renovation as well,” she said.

Those unable to attend the input session are welcome to share their opinions with Koschik via email at doug.koschik@baldwinlib.org or by phone at (248) 544-4681.

The Baldwin Public Library is located at 300 W. Merrill St. in downtown Birmingham.