The Newark Free LIbrary is being replaced with a new building on the same site.

Ideas for new Newark library sought in 2 town halls, survey

Ken Mammarella Culture, Headlines

The Newark Free LIbrary is being replaced with a new building on the same site.

The Newark Free Library is being replaced with a new building on the same site.

Two town halls and an online survey have been announced to collect ideas for the new Newark library.

Members of the public are invited to share their thoughts directly with the architectural firm, Quinn Evans, at meetings hosted by the Friends of the Newark Free Library.

The first meeting will be 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Newark Senior Center, 200 Whitechapel Drive.

The second meeting will be 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 16 at Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder, 400 Ogletown Road.

New Castle County has decided to build the new Newark library on the same site, on Library Avenue, on the eastern edge of downtown Newark.

Newark library survey

“Our goal is to create a library that serves as a future center of learning and opportunity for the entire community,” the 22-question survey about the Newark library begins.

It asks participants to think about their library desires in different ways.

Question 5, for instance, asks why they go to another library. Collections? Programs and events? Convenience? Technology?

Question 6 asks where people prefer to go to study, read and collaborate. The library? A co-working space? An educational institution space? A religious institution space? A community institution space? A coffeeshop or cafe?

Questions 7, 8 and 9 ask about what works and what doesn’t in the current library and “features or innovations you have seen, heard or read about in other libraries that ought to be considered.”

Question 10 asks about spaces. A children’s library? Space for children’s story times and programs? Space for preschoolers and their parents? Space for elementary students and their parents? Teen space? Meeting rooms for community groups? Consulting, tutoring and collaboration spaces for small groups? A makerspace? Quiet reading room? Outdoor areas? Display and exhibition space?

Question 11 asks participants to rank the importance of various activities, with the most intriguing being “access high-performance emerging technology.” (3-D printing comes to mind.) Others: Study, read or write by myself. Meet one-on-one with a colleague. Share time together with family. Work on a group project or in a creative environment. Spend time in a designated quiet reading room. Use my personal computer. Use a library computer. Attend a class or event. Participate in hands-on activities. Browse the collections. Research local history or genealogy.

“We know that libraries offer more than books,” County Executive Matt Meyer said on the county’s webpage for the project. “They are cornerstones of our communities; the programs and services offered by our libraries promote learning, foster innovation and encourage connection.”

The survey never uses the word book, although it does have multiple references to collections and reading.

New library buildings are in the works across Delaware.

The state plans to increase the total square footage of libraries statewide by 50% and increase flexible and outdoor spaces,” Newark Life magazine reported last year.

The state also is thinking hard about the future of libraries.

“Joining these public engagement meetings will help the county create vibrant, inclusive spaces that enrich the lives of all who visit the library,” the announcement said.

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