Library Project Kickoff

Last week OPN, the architects working on Commercial Horizons’ mixed-use proposal, were here to kick off library planning.
 
OPN’s library projects focus on community priorities. Their process involves learning about the community before developing designs. How do they do this? They facilitate conversations and activities that help them understand communities and their libraries. In addition, they provide exercises to learn about the community’s aesthetic sensibilities. This ensures that whatever they develop will match the community's aesthetic tastes. 
 
The first session OPN worked with approximately 25 people on high-level visioning exercises. The group included city staff, trustees, neighborhood stakeholders and collaborative partners. The group learned about 21st century library trends. They were also was able to answer questions like, what's great about Appleton? Why is Appleton unique? What needs to change? Finally, they took a look at other buildings and voiced what inspired them and what did not.
 
The second session, a public meet and greet, included similar activities - tailored to a large audience. This meeting was very productive and attended by over 120 people, a huge turn-out. The architects said they typically get one to two dozen people at a session like this. This was the highest attendance they have ever had for a visioning session. 
 
At the public meeting, community members brought forth specific concerns. Parking being the primary one. We understand parking is very important and it is a priority for us. The Department of Public Works is working on a process for the entire area around the proposed site.
 
Many community members showed excitement to be a part of the process from the beginning. There seemed to be an appreciation for listening to everyone's concerns and ideas.
 
During the third session, library staff got together and completed similar activities. The activities completed by staff were more focused on current staff-building issues.
 
I’ve been grateful that the architects have taken the time to look at our previous work. It is clear that this isn’t the same firm we worked with in 2009 and 2014 and OPN has a different process. OPN’s approach is in line with what we experienced with the update to the comprehensive plan - engaging with the community and soliciting input.
 
Now that OPN has initial community input, we are working with them to develop the next steps in the process. Our goal is to create a plan that can address the questions we know the community expects to have answered before this project moves forward.
 
If you have input or questions please submit them through the city’s webpage for this project.
 

Colleen Rortvedt, Library Director