Thursday, January 23, 2014

Birmingham Public Library Wants Community Input for Major Makeover

Central Library: Linn-Henley Research Library and the East Building

Want to redesign the downtown Birmingham Public Library? Here’s your chance.

Now through February 21, people can suggest how to improve the East Building and the Linn-Henley Research Library, which are both part of the Central Library at 2100 Park Place. A café, a roof-top garden, a children’s theater, and a larger auditorium are just some of the ideas. Library leaders welcome more.

“A great city has a great library. Help us make ours even better,‘’ says Renee Blalock, Birmingham Public Library Director.

The downtown library includes the East Building, which is more than 30 years old, and the Linn-Henley Research Library, which was built in 1927 and was last updated in 1985. Major renovations are planned to equip buildings with cutting-edge technology, expanded meeting spaces, and improved areas for the Archives and Southern History Departments. Renovations will also address improved services and library materials for teenagers, children, adults, seniors, and patrons with disabilities.

“We are using IdeaScale, a free, online resource that captures the community’s ideas on how to improve the library. The team of architects we are working with can use this site to gather ideas and suggestions from library users, staff and supporters,’’ says Blalock. “Ideas posted before February 21 will be given to the architects. However, the IdeasScale website will remain up so that we may continue to collect input from the public.’’

Submitting ideas is easy. Patrons may visit, click on the red “Redesign the Central Library’’ box, sign up, post suggestions, comment on ideas, and vote for their favorite ones. The suggestions with the most votes will rise to the top. The direct link is People may also sign up through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

“We are determining what we need to do and what we’d like to do to make BPL a destination for years to come,’’ says Blalock. “Libraries today need state-of-the-art technology, exciting spaces for kids and teens, as well as a place where people are comfortable coming to learn and have fun. We’d like the public’s input in planning the new look of the downtown library.’’

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