In 2004, the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County distributed a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an identification of the issues, services, partnerships, and other opportunities that should shape the renovation of their Children’s Library space. Quoting from the RFQ: “We are interested in exploring traditional and non-traditional library uses and services. Our goal is to make the Main Library a vital, dynamic, and high traffic location with a variety of attractions for a diverse population.”
The language in the RFQ set the tone for a visioning process that put the library at the head of a trend to reinvent its function and relevance to communities. Working with library staff and local stakeholders, PPS organized two Placemaking workshops that generated a remarkable consensus that the library can be an important community space and make the most of its downtown location and connection to outdoor spaces. Citizens at the workshops described a vivid vision of how to transform the library with more comfort, amenities and non-traditional uses that would attract regular users, in addition to other short- and long-term recommendations.
Summarzing and building on these recommendations, PPS’ final report outlined a plan for implementation, beginning with a few immediate aesthetic improvements and programming ideas to signal the library’s commitment to its constituency and staff. The vision then detailed potential components of a Phase One design concept and strategy that included expansion of community meeting rooms and potential retail elements. Finally, the importance of a long-term concept that would address the library in its entirety and its potential to be a community resource/gathering space was discussed.