City Council Approves Library Strategic Plan Calling for New Library Construction
Plan provides new library strategic goals, recommends 4 new large branches and expansions of existing branches to better serve growing city
The Austin City Council voted today to adopt the Austin Public Library Comprehensive Library Strategic and Facilities Plan. The plan lays out new strategic goals for the Austin Public Library, as well as recommends construction of new branch libraries along with expansion of many existing branches to keep up with population growth in the community.
“On behalf of everyone at the Austin Public Library, I am excited that the Council has adopted this vision for the future of our community’s libraries,” stated Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks. “This plan lays out a path for APL to continue to empower everyone in our community to discover, learn, and create for years to come.”
The facilities plan component of the document includes recommendations for increasing the footprint of library spaces in the city. The city’s rapid population growth has caused Austin to begin to lag behind peer cities in “library square foot per capita,” a metric used to calculate a library system’s capacity to serve the community. Further population growth absent the construction of new facilities will continue to drive the SF/capita ratio down, and population growth on the edges of the city is not currently well served by the existing branch network.
The facilities plan proposes four “net new” large library branches to address growth, as well as suggested projects to expand, replace, and/or relocate more than half of APL’s current branches in the years ahead.
“Five and a half years ago, Austin opened a new world-class Central Library in downtown, and that building remains the crown jewel of the city,” added Weeks. “However, our neighborhoods deserve world-class library facilities too. The plan adopted by the City Council today lays out a vision for growing and updating our entire library system to meet the needs of the rapidly changing, dynamic city we serve.”
The plan also includes a new Mission Statement and Vision Statement for Austin Public Library. The Vision and Mission statements address the themes heard throughout the strategic planning process about the Library’s position in the community, its role in education, culture, creativity and discovery, and its role as a bedrock of democracy, equity and inclusion; a place for everyone in Austin.
Library Vision: “Austin Public Library: A model of equity, inclusion, access, and diversity.”
Library Mission: “Inspiring all to discover, learn, and create.”
The plan also includes five new Strategic Goals for the library, based upon the needs and hopes expressed by the community and staff as they look toward the future of the City of Austin as it continues to grow and diversify:
1. Provide community-centric programs and services
2. Design and develop spaces for community connections
3. Foster stakeholder relationships
4. Expand library access
5. Engage staff
The Strategic and Facilities Plan was developed over the course of more than a year. Input was provided for the plan through a community survey that received more than 5,400 responses, pop-up community events in 20 locations throughout Austin, as well as a series of surveys, workshops, and listening sessions with APL staff and external community stakeholders. The plan document was authored by Group 4 Architecture Research and Planning Inc., who were the lead consultants on the project.