In 1986, the current Brookfield Library building opened. The architect lacked experience designing libraries, resulting in a facility with no separation between youth and adult services. There are no quiet spaces or study rooms. The largest meeting room accommodates 30 people. The foundation cannot support the addition of a second floor. Despite modifications, the current building is not truly handicapped accessible.
While the refurbishing project a decade ago improved aesthetics and made changes to accommodate the power needs of the digital age, the goal was not to correct the structural deficiencies of the current building. In 1986, the Brookfield Library opened a building that was poorly constructed and expensive to maintain with no ability to adapt to the needs of the community or grow in the future.
Over the past decade, the library board wrestled with the problem of how to serve 20,000 residents in a substandard building. It is most fiscally responsible to construct a new library building rather than continue to invest in a poorly constructed and substandard one. The process to design the proposed new building took many years and solicited input and involvement of residents. And with personnel always the largest expense of any organization, the new building is designed so that no additional staff will be required to run it.
Libraries have always been about sharing and access to information. While the internet has changed how we receive information, it has also increased the demand and usage of libraries. The Brookfield Library has become instrumental by offering hands on help, online databases, internet hotspot and laptop check out as well as traditional services and classes. The new building will improve the delivery of these services and will offer a place for residents to meet, connect and collaborate.
The library is the one community institution serving every resident: children, from the youngest who are building literacy skills, to teens who are preparing to enter a very competitive world, to adults seeking jobs to seniors. A new library is an investment in Brookfield that will benefit the community for generations to come. Vote yes on Nov. 8 for the future of Brookfield.
Ed. Note: Jennifer Perry is president of the Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees