When Mary Hougland took over as director of the Jennings County Public Library in rural North Vernon, IN, in January 2008, she wanted to turn the nearly 34,000 square foot, modern pole barn structure, a characterless building erected in 1997, into a “user-friendly” destination that would be “someplace where people wanted to hang out.”
In fall 2009, Bing Thom Architects (BTA) won a stimulus grant from the Canadian government to build the new $36 million (Canadian), 77,000 square foot Surrey City Centre Library, envisioned as a centerpiece of this fast-growing community outside Vancouver, BC. The caveat: use it or lose it. In exchange for the funding, construction had to be finished in 18 months—half the usual time allowed for such a project. “We got the grant in November and started working in December,” says Michael Heeney, principal at the Vancouver-based BTA. “By February, we were under construction.” The accelerated schedule meant there was no time to conduct essential public meetings and focus groups to find out what the community wanted from their new library. BTA’s solution: use social media.