The Frisco Public Library staff recently received direction from the City Council to continue exploring an expansion option that was discussed during a work session June 29.
The council reviewed four expansion options the library proposed, but the council advised the library to continue researching an option that includes a renovation of the Beal Building located next to the Frisco Discovery Center at 8000 Dallas Parkway.
Frisco Public Library Director Shelley Holley said the existing library space is not large enough to meet the demand for Frisco’s population.
“We are at the point now where we are running through reports and wondering, ‘How are we going to keep the books on the shelves,’” Director of Frisco Public Library Shelley Holley said. “There are days when we don’t have enough seats to fit the amount of people who come in. There are not enough table spots and not enough books.”
Growing city, growing library
The Frisco Public Library occupies the east end of Frisco City Hall.
In the 2015 library master plan, the library staff determined the library was operating in a space much smaller than it needed. According to the master plan, the library should have 0.55 square feet of space per capita for a library with its attendance, but the library currently has 0.31 square feet per capita.
The master plan also revealed the library’s collection size was significantly smaller than those of similarly popular libraries. Other libraries are operating with a collection size of 2.1 assets per resident, but Frisco only has a collection size 1.24 assets per resident.
According to the master plan, the library would need to be at least 145,500 square feet to reach its goal of space per capita.
The library will also have its first branch location in the Hyatt Regency hotel at Stonebriar Centre, which is expected to be complete in 2020. However, the new space is expected to have only 3,000 square feet of space.
“All the resources are being depleted, and there is not enough space in [City Hall] to add those resources in,” Holley said. “Our collection is significantly smaller than it should be. The fact that even if we had the money to add the books, there is no space to put them.”
Beal Building benefits
The Beal Building, funded by Beal Bank founder Andrew Beal, was designed to hold and build aerospace crafts, or rockets.
“The thing that makes it advantageous for a library build, that people don’t think about, is that books are heavy,” Holley said. “So when you build a library, you do 400 pounds per square inch when you reinforce the floor, and the average is 150 [pounds] per square inch. So you can see how advantageous that is. And because it had to hold rockets, it’s built at beyond the 400 pounds.”
Refurbishing buildings to build libraries is generally more expensive than building new ones because of the reinforcement that is required for the weight of books, Holley said.
To renovate 145,500 square feet of the Beal Building would cost a total of $49 million—the least expensive option.
“A rocket building into a library—I think that’s a fabulous, cool idea, because libraries have changed so much into the future ... ,” Holley said. “And using something that pushes things forward like a rocket enhances our brand. We are not just books anymore.”
If the library moved into the Beal Building, it would move into the space occupied by GEA, a major supplier of process technology for the food industry. GEA has been notified by the city that the library has discussed moving into GEA’s current location.
“The city manager has said that we will have two years’ notice pending their final decision,” GEA Vice President of Finance Bryon Stricker said. “We are currently waiting for a final decision, and then we will weigh our options at that time.”
Holley said library staff will continue to research the Beal Building option, and it will be brought before the council again in the future.