The 2002 plan already includes a lot of space for people to retrieve and share information electronically. It includes more flexible spaces that could be used for meetings or other gatherings. But since then, mobile technology has changed our habits again. People download and listen to and watch more materials than ever. So maybe there are obvious accommodations that weren't so obvious in 2002, and projections that weren't apparent back then.
"The bigger story here is, 'What should the library of the future look like?'" Engelbert said.
"I think we're going to have book stacks for a long, long time, but it is good to look at how much we'll actually need," he said. The current library, in a rehabbed federal courthouse, was designed for maximum book storage.
Libraries still circulate books, but library users also come in looking for Internet access, programs to attend, electronic books and other materials subject to license agreements, and places to collaborate with others.
Some libraries are looking at more "maker spaces," where people actually come together to work with technology to produce something, even objects, not just media, he said.
"Whatever those spaces are, we need them to be as flexible as they possibly can be, so as the nature of the library changes, the space can be flexed as well without taking out a bunch of load-bearing walls and rerouting electrical service," he said.
He expects most of the current plan is still valid, but after 10 years, it's worth going over again.
Engelbert has no doubt people need the library. The Elk Valley Branch is a perfect example. A year ago it moved from its small building that was not handicap accessible to one at the Crossings Mall in Elkview. The library is very visible, in a high traffic area, close to the Interstate, all on one level and has plenty of free parking.
A year later, circulation is up 39 percent, business in the Reference Department is up 45 percent and computer use is up 88 percent.Miller, the Gazette's editorial page editor, can be reached at d...@wvgazette.com.