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The Library Refresh Program: In-Time Solutions

Montgomery County Public Libraries, MD
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Innovation Summary

The Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) system developed a cyclical, cost-effective approach to “refresh” its branches. The process assesses and implements improvements to library construction and enhances information services and technologies based on changing community needs. The program aims to quickly return updated, “refreshed” libraries to communities.

Problem Statement

The Refresh Program was developed in response to three primary points: engineering redevelopment during times of County economic constraint; community concerns about long downtimes during renovations; and MCPL’s need to expedite modernizing its branches and re-opening them to the public. The Program presents a novel approach to renovate libraries by avoiding building demolition and long-term shutdown of facilities, and updating infrastructure and technologies towards creating 21st century libraries. The Program revitalizes branches on a rotating, system-wide scale while maintaining an economical and timely approach, minimizing interruption of library availability for services within the affected community.

Innovation

The Refresh Program revitalizes library branches by scheduling restoration of three branches per year, implementing construction preventive measures, and programmatic changes to the interior library space. The “refresh” methodology is fiscally responsible, dispersing community benefits of less “down time” and lower expense. The Program is a creative cost-effective approach to keep pace with anticipated facility changes. These changes originate from the evolving role of public libraries, updates in technology, and ongoing customer expectations. The objective of the Program is to “return” an “improved” library to its community in a timely manner.

Progress

The first year of Program implementation has been well-received by the public and has saved a considerable amount of funds. Based on the first two projects completed – Twinbrook and Kensington Park branches – the estimated total cost to refresh 16 libraries would be $20 million, in comparison to $203 million needed to fully renovate the same 16 branches. It would take 32 years to complete those projects (i.e., FY2048); under the Refresh Program, each branch can be refreshed three or four times by that projected year, providing the structural and technological updates that the community needs.