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Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog

A Place to Find & Share Ideas

December 8, 2010 4:33 PM

Libraries have always been places where people go to pick up ideas. They can find those ideas in books, of course, but they can also mine ideas in magazines, in compact discs and DVDs, online and, no doubt, in other ways still to be invented. And increasingly, libraries are places where people go not just to sit in quiet study but also to share the ideas they find in lively conversation with one another.

So, the plans for the new Central Library, revealed yesterday, are less about where to put stacks of books than they are about making the library a vibrant and flexible place to discover and share ideas. The plans call for five times more computer work stations plus lots more locations to use laptops. You'll even be able to borrow a laptop while there. There are several meeting rooms in sizes ranging from small study rooms to a 250 seat lecture room. The new building will have a much lighter feel in every way. A third of the outside walls will be transparent or translucent compared to less than 10% of the current building. And shelves will be lowered to five and a half feet while ceilings will be raised to thirteen feet by removing the current false ceilings.

The overall size of the library will increase by 20% from 95,000 to 118,500 square feet and a much greater percentage of the building will be accessible to the public. The top floor will include the possibility of some form of open space roof such as a green roof or a sculpture garden.

The building comes in on budget with the cost actually at least $7.5 million less than what we could expect a new building to cost if it had been built from the bottom up. We get those savings by reusing the superstructure of the building. It's also good for the environment because all of the materials and energy that go into the pillars and floor plates and some of the skin will be reused.

And at the end of the day, it turns out to be the complete reimagining of the building that we promised when we started this process. See for yourself.

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