Four cities nationwide: Winston Salem NC, Riverside CA, Concord CA, Springfield MA (1992 – 1995)

Client: Surdna Foundation

The “Public Libraries: In Partnership with Communities” program was initiated to help libraries to become more active cultural, economic, education, and social entities. The goal was to create a joint effort of the public and private sectors that would strengthen the library’s role as a civic gathering space and stimulus for downtown revival. PPS collaborated with Partners for Livable Communities and the Public Library Association on this program of the Surdna Foundation.

The basic premise of the program was that communities can take much better advantage of their public libraries, not just as the guardians of heritage, but as an active cultural, economic, educational, and social catalyst for change and revitalization. To achieve this goal, the public and private sectors in cities must reach a greater understanding of the place of a public library in a community and the role the library plays – or should play – in meeting that city’s economic and social challenges. Greater community involvement can build support for new programs and policies, as well as serve as the basis for strengthening the library’s role as a civic gathering space and stimulus for neighborhood and downtown revitalization.

Forsyth County Public Library

Winston Salem, NC (1994)
Client: Surdna Foundation, Forsyth County Public Library

PPS developed a series of recommendations to help the library achieve four goals: 1) increase the role of the library as a public gathering place; 2) increase the visibility of the library – and its programs and facilities – while making it a more friendly and inviting facility; 3) increase the comfort of the library and upgrade its image as a contemporary and up-to-date facility; and 4) establish the library as the anchor for the revitalization of the entire neighborhood in downtown.

Contra Costa County Public Library

Concord, CA (1994)
Client: Surdna Foundation, City of Concord

This project was based on the premise of the relocation of the Contra Costa County Central Library from an inadequate facility in Pleasant Hill to Concord. PPS assisted the community with developing a new vision for the Concord Library, and sought out ideas from a broad range of stakeholders, beginning with a leadership forum, which brought together business and community leaders to provide community perspective about the library and its programs and potential. PPS then held a series of focus groups to solicit more specific ideas for library services and programs and for use of the public spaces surrounding the library. Nearly 20 potential sites in Concord were evaluated as to their appropriateness to meet the needs and programs identified during the community forum and focus groups. Based on the findings, PPS prepared evaluation criteria and established and a preferred library model – the downtown anchor – was selected by the Library Task Force, along with a ranked order of preferred sites.

Casa Blanca Neighborhood Improvements

Riverside, California (1994)
Client: City of Riverside, Development Department

PPS worked with the Riverside Development Department, Riverside City and County Public Library and the residents of Casa Blanca, a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, to develop plans for improving their street and for a new public square and cultural center/library. Through a series of meetings with the neighborhood leadership, local college and university officials, city development and law enforcement personnel and by hosting well-attended public workshops, plans for the reclaiming of Casa Blanca’s Madison Street as the neighborhood “Main Street” and for the creation of a cultural center/ library with a central square, were shaped. Streetscape improvements included neckdowns, planted medians, welcome signs, and angled parking near the shops, churches and library. School classes prepared their own designs for the library/ cultural center. The central square was to be constructed adjacent to the library for community activities such as a market, children’s play area, performances and other activities, with adjacent incubator commercial/retail space.