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Flower Mound Library set for new chapter

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Sue Ridnour, Director of Library Services, is excited about big changes coming to the Flower Mound Library. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

The Flower Mound Library at 3030 Broadmoor Lane, which was built in 1999, is now 17-years old and in need of both an update and an expansion.

“It’s been in the works,” said Director of Library Services Sue Ridnour. “In 2012, the library hired a consultant to conduct a feasibility study to see what was needed. The consultant examined such things as the driving distance to the library from the outer limits of Flower Mound and where growth is occurring; and, the fact that there is a jet fuel easement nearby that you can’t construct a building over.”

An important component of the study was the input of both community and staff members during a series of focus groups.

“The result of the study is a vision for the library’s update and expansion,” said Ridnour. “It is the Master Plan that Dewberry Architects of Dallas prepared in 2012.”

The Master Plan’s proposed expansion would take the library from 25,000- to 40,000-square-feet; not quite a doubling in size. Four years have passed since that study.

According to Ridnour, the study recommended not constructing an additional building in another location as doing so would require the hiring of more staff members and make operating costs too expensive.  The study concluded that the best solution would be adding onto the current facility.

Ridnour explained: “Other priorities– including the construction of a new Town Hall and the necessity of adding two new fire stations– pushed funding for the proposed library changes to the backburner.”

Possible layouts of the proposed expansion would extend the library building to the north and west; however, the city did not own enough land in those directions.

“In 2015, the Flower Mound City Council agreed to purchase a sliver of that land.,” said Ridnour. “Then, the city decided to buy the rest of the land all the way to Old Settlers. In late 2018, a CIP or Capital Improvement Project will enable the design work to be done. It will also allow us to do a general update, including adding and rearranging books, reconfiguring of our technology, and adding more useable space for meetings and activities.”

Besides the addition and rearrangement of books, the general update would encompass smaller changes– such as having a more kid-friendly color palette in the children’s section, to purchasing new furniture, to installing bookshelves for children that are of a more appropriate height.

The reconfiguration of the library’s technology would result in fewer computer workstations and more charging stations to accommodate patrons’ utilization of personal smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

More space for different uses would also be added; for instance, a space for children’s story times would be incorporated, as would a larger space for teenagers and more study rooms.

Sue Ridnour, Director of Library Services, Flower Mound Library. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

The Master Plan noted Flower Mound’s “family driven” population. Ridnour emphasized the library’s dedication to children, adding, “Studies show that children are more likely to become readers if they have access to books.”

Both the update and expansion will better serve Flower Mound’s population. Currently, the library receives an average of 500 visitors per day; a number that has resulted in wear and tear upon the library.

“Basically, we have just outgrown the building,” said Ridnour. “Besides providing access to books, videos, magazines, newspapers and audiotapes, we also provide other programs; including a free online tutoring service, gardening classes and more.

“We collaborate with the library at the Senior Center and soon we will participate in a national program called Mental Health First Aid that will help staff members recognize individuals who need extra help.”

She explained that most people think of a library as a repository for archived materials, when, in fact, libraries are circulating facilities. That means they must keep up with the times and demands of the population.

“The town’s population has changed since the library was built,” said Ridnour. “Demographics indicate that we have more teenagers now than we did then and many come here to study after school or to be tutored. We want to keep up with society and have people be happy with how their money is spent.”

She said Flower Mound budgets $1.7 million per year for the operation of the library, which works out to $25 per resident per year. Denton County provides reciprocal funding that enables people who don’t live in Flower Mound to use the library.

“Compared to other cities, this per-capita cost is low,” said Ridnour.

The Friends of Flower Mound Library help fund the library and its many offerings. They handle donations and four times per year hold used book sales; each of which brings in about $4,000.

Town Council member Bryan Webb has been an enthusiastic supporter of the library update and expansion plus the construction of a park on the northwest side of the expansion land.

“A year-and-a-half ago, it was recommended that the city buy more land for the library’s expansion, but we didn’t have enough votes to do so,” Webb explained.  “Last month, those votes came through. Now the total amount of land for the expansion is 1.5 acres, which will enable us to install a passive park on part of the property.”

Webb pointed out that the money spent to create the park will be separate from the funds for the library expansion and improvements.

“The purpose of purchasing that extra land was to prevent the trees from being clear-cut,” he explained. “This was a case of buying the land to save the trees.”

First, an inventory of the trees will be conducted, with a cleanup and only the diseased trees will be removed. Once the cleanup is complete, Webb explained that decisions will then be made about the park’s contents and border.

One of those decisions will be about where to install the trail.

“The passive park will have a meandering trail with perhaps a statutory garden,” said Webb. “There will be benches, but no play area. We plan to use crushed stone on the trail so it’s softer to walk on [than concrete], but firm enough to make it available for wheelchairs.”

He added that there is no decision whether the park will be open or have a fence; and, if so, what type. The statutory garden’s development could be ongoing. Webb envisions the possibility of a statue being added to the park every year or two with an unveiling.

“It could evolve into a memorial park to commemorate veterans, for which we might receive donations,” he said. “In 10, 12, 15-years, the park could be something really special.”

To read the Master Plan for the Flower Mound Library, visit: www.flower-mound.com, click on “Departments,” choose “Library,” selecting “About Us,” and finally clicking on “Master Plan.”

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