Six big Miami-Dade library projects awaiting state grants
Written by Jesse Scheckner on January 1, 2019
Miami-Dade is waiting on $3 million in state grant funds before proceeding with six library projects expected to cost a combined $31.1 million.
Commissioners Dec. 18 approved submission for – and subsequent spending of – Florida public library construction grants for which the county applied in July, as well as a re-submittal of applications approved here in 2017.
The grants, totaling $500,000 apiece, would go toward:
■$2 million to improve the first floor of the Main Library downtown, including overhauls of the children’s, young adults and computer center areas, expanded electrical and data infrastructure, 65 computer stations, a business resource center, flat screen TVs, a multi-purpose auditorium and better public restrooms, café and concession areas.
■About $3.69 million to upgrade the Coral Gables Branch Library, including expanded electrical and data infrastructure, renovations of fixtures and flooring, new computers and information technology products, interactive spaces for children and parents gaming setups, charging stations and services for seniors and people with disabilities.
■Renovations at West Dade Regional Library costing $2.5 million, including updated fixtures and flooring, an overhauled auditorium, improved public bathrooms, enhanced electrical and data infrastructure with power accessibility, new computers and technology peripherals, and co-working spaces for business and telecommuting uses.
■A proposed 7,900-square-foot Chuck Pezoldt Branch Library at Chuck Pezoldt Park in South Dade, which is expected to cost $3.5 million and feature 30 computers, 13 wireless tablets, over 30,000 books and items, and offer services and programs for all ages and abilities.
■A proposed 15,000-square-foot Hialeah Gardens Branch Library, expected to cost about $10.1 million, which would replace the existing library there and boast features and services comparable to the projects above.
■A proposed Doral Branch Library, which would replace the existing library there, expected to cost $9.3 million with features and services similar to those above.
“It is important to note that these projects represent only a handful of the renovation and construction projects that are either in progress or in the planning stages,” Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Director Michael Spring wrote in an accompanying memo listing 23 projects totaling $138.46 million.
To be eligible for state library funding, Miami-Dade – which Mr. Spring wrote usually receives about $1.5 million from the state yearly for its libraries through the state aid program – must first have an up-to-date five-year strategic plan for its library system.
The main funding for Miami-Dade libraries, he wrote, comes from the county’s library taxing district.
On Dec. 4, commissioners unanimously OK’d an item sponsored by Javier Souto to approve the county’s new five-year library plan, which library staff had worked on since February 2017 with planning consultants Lord Cultural Resources.
“Without a doubt, the way in which people use the library is changing,” wrote Ray Baker, the county’s library system director, who noted a decline in checkouts of physical library materials – books, audiobooks and movies – and a rise in the use of digital content. “More importantly, the demand for use of the library as a destination for community events and activities, services and programs continue to play a more prominent role in shaping our strategic priorities.”
Strategic goals recommended in the plan to “become the national model for libraries” through 2022 include:
■Providing “extraordinary services and customer experiences” with accessible and desirable spaces, collections and technologies.
■Developing processes and methodologies to inform the public of the programs and amenities offered.
■Creating a master plan for library facilities and spaces to best deliver area-specific services.
■Improving and building on awareness efforts through communications and marketing, including updating the system’s marketing and communications plan, creating targeted awareness campaigns and developing innovative customer feedback methods.
■Building greater educational, cultural and social partnerships to support, enhance and expand library programs, services and spaces.
■Setting a fundraising strategy that includes hiring a development officer and establishing a foundation that focuses on private fundraising and grant opportunities.
■Increasing advocacy through direct interaction with library users, community groups, advocacy partners, donors and public officials and developing an “advocacy toolkit” and training for staff and external personnel.
■Creating and conducting ongoing staff and leadership development and training programs.
■Performing an updated staff study to evaluate staffing levels.
Next, the library system will cement an “implementation plan” with specific dates and milestones for tasks, action items and objectives, staff wrote.
“[It] will also serve as a means of monitoring and measuring our success in progressing towards, and reaching, the established goals over the next five years,” they wrote. “We are excited about moving forward together and implementing this plan to make our library one of the most effective, inspiring and innovative in the nation.”