The last time the Hays Public Library prepared for extensive renovations in 2004, college student Brandon Hines had just been hired, as he likes to tell it, under false pretenses. After starting the job, he was told he was hired for his muscle to move furniture.
Now, as library director, Hines, along with the HPL staff, see a need to renovate the space inside the library, and they are seeking public input.
The library will have two stakeholder meetings at 1:30 and 6 p.m. June 10 in the Schmidt Gallery on the main floor. Refreshments and dessert will be served. Reservations are requested to Hines at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hines said the 90-minute sessions will include information from the staff and some brainstorming in small groups.
“We expect to basically throw a ball out there and have people take the direction,” Hines said. “We know that 90 minutes is hard to come by for a lot of people, so we are really keeping that in mind. It will be very fast-paced and engaging."
The Central Kansas Library System will facilitate the sessions.
“They’re using some questioning and planning that’s specific to public libraries, and we’ve already kind of edited the questions and bounced them back and forth — what I wanted, what my staff wanted, what the board wanted, and then also some ideas the Central Kansas Library System had in mind,” Hines said.
Some changes have already been made at the library since Hines took over as director almost a year ago, some of which were ideas the staff had for a long time, he said.
“We’re kind of at that point now where we need to sit back and listen a little bit to see where we go next,” Hines said. “The spaces are really that next thing."
Since the 2004 renovation, space needs have greatly changed in the library, Hines said.
“We used to have this big reference section. Now, pretty much all of our reference is online. We used to have a whole bunch of VHS,” he said, referring to the collection of movies and TV shows on video cassette tapes. “We don’t have VHS anymore in our physical space. There’s just a lot more digital collections of what there ever were before.”
Fewer people use the computer stations, as well, using their own devices, especially smartphones, on the library’s Wi-Fi.
One of the new space needs might be for meeting and quiet spaces, he said.
“We get asked all the time if we have places just to do homework. I’ve had people interviewed by their attorneys in front of my office, I’ve had full-on job interviews,” he said. “We know we want to create a really engaging environment, and we think that’s very important, because we do want to have that community space for people to come and relax and interact with each other. But that really presents challenges for those people who want to come in and have a quiet experience."
After the sessions and brainstorming are over, Hines said the next step will be to start planning.
“I will probably reach out to architects and get some plans, course of action, some feasibility studies and have them kind of shape what we can have,” he said.
He didn’t give a timeline for the work, but did say a priority will be to keep the library open during renovation.
Hines said the library will pay for the renovations from its capital reserves and won’t need to ask the city for special funding, such as a bond or sales tax.