A special MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
april 8, 2017
A meeting of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners was advertised for a special visioning session to discuss a long-range strategic plan for Lake County libraries on Saturday, April 8, 2017, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Cagan Crossings Community Library, 16729 Cagan Oaks, Clermont, Florida. No Commissioners were present at the meeting. Others present were: Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
Mr. Dick Waters, a consultant working on the library system’s long-range strategic plan, announced that this meeting was designed to get input from the residents who were present about a new five-year strategic plan for the Lake County library system for 2018-2023, since the current plan elapses this year and a new plan was required by the State of Florida. He added that he was looking at services, staffing, and funding for all of Lake County’s libraries; and he emphasized that it was not a facilities plan except for the recommendations that were requested about the second floor of the Cagan Crossings Library building, which was currently empty. He mentioned, however, that the consultants have made recommendations regarding services that apply to the libraries such as requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act that prohibit books from being placed on the bottom shelf or too high on the upper shelves unless other accommodations are made for those who could not reach them. He mentioned that the group attending this meeting was their largest group attending these library meetings so far. He asked what those in attendance believed was good about this library building and/or the Lake County library system as a whole.
Someone remarked that she was not a Lake County resident but used the library facilities for a nominal fee, and she mentioned that there were several groups that met in the library, such as knitting and quilting groups.
Mr. Waters clarified that those who are not residents of Lake County could use the library and join the groups without paying a fee, as long as they do not check out any of the materials.
A resident of Polk County mentioned that she lived close to the library, and another resident pointed out that residents from four counties used the Cagan Crossings Library, since it was a convenience to people who might otherwise have to drive 12 to 15 miles to the closest full-service library.
Mr. Waters noted that there was a reciprocal borrowing agreement between Lake and Polk Counties that was in effect at some time in the past and commented that the library was an asset even for those who do not live in Lake County. He asked for further positive attributes of the library and the library system.
People commented that the library was within walking distance, had a white beret program for children of all ages as well as a wide variety of other programs such as computer classes and a chess club, had easy parking, and provided the use of plenty of good computers with good free Wi-Fi.
One resident provided a statement which related that “the library is the foundation of the community and brings neighbors together with the same desire to reduce their hunger for knowledge and to quench their thirst for answers; therefore, a library is an important pillar of civilization. Those who use the library wisely will become better members of society and contribute in a more positive and optimistic way in dealing with the many challenges in life. A library is a sanctuary for all who seek to improve themselves and others for a better tomorrow.”
Mr. Waters commented that a library is a great equalizer which welcomes all who enter, and all that is needed is a library card or $20 to pay for one for those who live in another county.
It was noted that the interlibrary loan system works well; the librarians were very hard working, helpful, and knowledgeable and helped elderly people use the internet; and the library acts as a community hub in this area for this diverse community, since there were no other places to have meetings and very little activity.
Mr. Waters mentioned that he has worked extensively throughout the State of Florida as well as throughout the country. He opined that the library should strive to have something for everyone, although it should not strive to be all things to all people, and the comments so far are not out of the mainstream of library services. He pointed out that even though the shelves are starting to get filled up, they are still not beyond capacity, but they either have to find a way to use the second floor or engage in a strong deselection or weeding process of the materials in the future.
One resident commented that all of the programs and the amount of participants who join those programs are growing and expanding every year due to the increase in housing in the past two years in the area. Someone related that the video and audiobook library has grown, which has really been a benefit to them.
Mr. Waters asked for ideas which they believed would improve the library. He related that the second floor of the library totaled 12,000 square feet of space, but it does not currently have air conditioning, an elevator which would cost $60,000 to $65,000, carpet or flooring, enough lighting, and furniture. He specified that the project costs would be about $50 to $60 per square foot including design fees and construction, which would total $500,000 to $750,000 to complete the second floor, and there would also be additional staff costs unless the space was used for storage of materials.
Someone asked whether there was any chance of the counties taking another look at the reciprocity agreement for this library with the other nearby counties, since there has been an increase in housing in the Four Corners area, and many residents agreed that more space is needed at the Cagan Crossings Library for many different things.
Mr. Waters responded that they have not been asked to look into that issue, but they could put in their report that this should be revisited. He also recommended that they look into a grant from the State of Florida for at least some of the cost of construction of the second floor; however, it was brought up that if the actual library building was owned privately by the Cagan family rather than the County, it might be harder to be awarded a grant.
A staff member of the library stated that they could explore ideas about how to be more inclusive with those other counties, and he also commented that impact fees are a possible source for construction of the second floor.
A resident added that they could look into raising money from private donors or fundraising drives.
Mr. Waters noted that the consultants have to finish their work and write their report which would include how they believe the second floor could be used for library purposes, and they could include how partnerships might be considered to expand. However, he cautioned that if the area grows to the point where more room is needed, it might be less than prudent to enter into a partnership with an entity that would have to leave the premises after a period of time such as five years in order to allow the library to utilize that extra space, and he indicated that his recommendation will probably be for the building to be used for library usage only. He also noted that they will take into consideration that the Four Corners area is actually a suburban center, and he asked what could be done with the space they currently have to utilize it effectively and whether there were other services that the library could provide.
A resident asked that there be later hours on Friday evening, and she opined that Sunday operations were not necessary, since many people go to church on that day. Another person suggested that they redesign the whole first floor and add more staff, especially if they were to add more hours or expand the space of the library. A participant commented that the library staff does not need to help the public use the printers, which would free staff for other tasks, while another individual opined that the children’s section should be set up to enable the children to go to the books before the computers. There were also complaints about people using their cell phones in the library and the fact that their children have to exit the double doors to use the bathroom rather than having an accessible bathroom inside the library building.
Mr. Waters responded that the location of the adult computer area could be changed, and someone recommended that the computers be relocated on the second floor if that area is ever constructed. He also pointed out that they were finding that the use of tethered library desktop computers is decreasing, but the use of the technology being accessed by other devices is increasing. He opined that the circulation desk was oversized and used up space that could be put to better use. He then brought everyone’s attention to the handout that was provided to them, which was a priority-setting exercise listing eleven services. He requested that the participants list their priorities for either the Cagan Crossings Community Library or the library system as a whole by numbering five services they think are the most important starting with a “1” for the most important to a “5.” He then asked them to mark an “X” next to two of the seven items that are left to delineate that they do not believe the library should spend any time or money trying to deliver those two services. He mentioned that they are asking every group they meet to do this, and this would give them a good indication of the priorities of the community. He explained that the next steps were for the consultants to write a draft report that is expected to be done and sent to the County by middle to late May, and the Board would decide on funding and whether to make any changes regarding that report. He concluded that those who participated will be contacted by the library when the consultants come back to present the draft report and a PowerPoint presentation. He thanked everyone for their time and assistance.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.
timothy i. sullivan, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK