The Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees took its first official step toward the future last week, selecting an architect to help them forge a facility plan for the future – one that doesn't include a brand new building, but a more modest expansion that can accomplish much of what the board wants.
The board is hewing closely to its $6 million budget, knowing there's no appetite on the part of voters to approve a referendum that would raise taxes to pay for construction.
Our only note of caution – and one voiced during the architect selection discussion by some on the board – is this: don't settle for less than you need.
The Brookfield Public Library, as anyone who has visited it knows, is crammed from wall to wall. Storage cabinets, the insides full and the tops stacked with more items, line meeting rooms walls.
Built in the 1980s, the building approved for construction by the library board was immediately too small for its needs. They aimed too low.
In addition, the way space is arranged in the present library adds to the problem. Gutting and re-programming the entire space will be a critical element.
Once completed, there's not going to be another attempt to build a new library. That ship has sailed. So it's necessary that the board get this expansion – its size and the reallocation of interior space – right.
We're not sure the board can go as far as Daniel Burnham's motto "Make no small plans." This addition isn't going to be grand. But it can't be too small, again.