EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – This summer, the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library and Fort Wayne-based MKM Architecture and Design partnered to assess the needs of the eight libraries in Vanderburgh County. They received staff and community input for what needs to be improved at each branch. This week, the firm completed its initial facilities plan and presented it to the public.

“We’re really excited looking at how our spaces can improve for the community,” said Kassidy Kinner, Marketing & PR Manager, EVPL.

M-KM took surveys and performed analysis of each location to determine the needs – both structurally and based off of efficiency and utility rate.

“Some buildings have both as an issue,” said Zach Benedict, Principal at MKM Architecture and Design. “So they not only have aging infrastructure but they’re over-utilized or too small or they’re inefficient because they’re trying to do too much for the size of the building that they are. And the ones that have problems on both ends of that spectrum are the ones that I think they’ll likely have to prioritize.”

The buildings’ needs were split into three categories. Immediate quick fixes included improving signage and outdoor wi-fi access. Small moves included HVAC and lighting repairs, and repurposing rooms. And some buildings needed large moves, like expansions and possibly even a new location in the county.

“There’s also some ADA compliance or accessibility,” added Kinner. “Improving our Carnegie libraries that were established almost 100 years ago, over a hundred years ago — to make those more accessible to the communities they serve as well as all of our visitors that come to Evansville and Vanderburgh County.”

One of the biggest factors determining the most pressing needs is based off how old it is.

“When you’ve got 8 locations, that’s a lot to manage,” added Benedict. “Especially when you’ve got different varying ages. They’ve got buildings ranging from being built in 1913 to 2004, that’s a big gap.”

But what was also brought up was how much the community has changed since the last library was built.

“You take into fact, how our demographics how our community’s evolved in the 20 years. So better serving those for today and for the future rather than just looking at our past,” said Kinner.

The firm will regroup with the feedback that they got from this week’s meetings, refine and clarify anything necessary, and present an updated plan to the public in January.