Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2007

Commission casts fresh eye on library expansion

August 23, 2007, 12:07 p.m. Updated August 23, 2007, 1:16 p.m.


John Nalbandian, president of the library board

John Nalbandian, president of the library board, on new discussions about expanding the Lawrence Public Library. Enlarge video

City commissioners Thursday morning vowed to restart discussions about expanding the Lawrence Public Library, but stopped short of saying they could ultimately support a once-proposed $30 million expansion of the facility.

At a study session with the library's board of trustees, commissioners said they would direct staff members to prepare a detailed report - or a "decision tree" - on what steps would need to be taken to undertake an expansion and put the question to voters in a citywide election.

"I know I'm not willing to just stop the process and pat the library board and staff on the back and say 'Go your merry way and keep doing what you've been doing,'" Mayor Sue Hack said. "You deserve more than that."

Commissioners did not spell out a timeline for the new report, but said it should be sooner rather than later.

John Nalbandian, president of the library board, said he was pleased that city commissioners were once again ready to talk about the project, which had begun to languish after the April City Commission elections.

"The car is moving forward again," said Nalbandian, who had compared the library project to a car idling at an intersection waiting for the driver to pick a direction. "I'm not sure how fast it is moving, but we're pleased that we're moving again."

Commissioners also flirted with the idea of creating the city's first satellite library to help ease the pressure on the 35-year old downtown library. Both Commissioners Mike Dever and Rob Chestnut said that could be an interim solution until the city's finances improve to fund a major downtown expansion. But the other three commissioners said they were concerned the costs for such an interim step may be too high.


50YearResident 8 years, 3 months ago

If a Library is built it will take at least 3 or 4 years to complete. Will there still be a demand for books to read at that time or will there actually be less demand than there is today. Ask the teenagers age 13 to 19, are you reading books? I think you will be surprised by their answers. I am thinking the Library is going to be obsolete just like 8 tract tapes, cassettes, and record players. The Internet and computers are now "in" and Libraries are "out". Why spend $30 million on obsolete material.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years, 3 months ago

It amazes me how much people talk about spending millions of dollars that they don't have...

Libgirl 8 years, 3 months ago

Thats why they raise your sales or property taxes. In this case: worth it!

stuckinthemiddle 8 years, 3 months ago

Libgirl How can you say that it's worth it when you don't know what it is or how much it's going to cost?

Or... are you saying that you thought that the 30 million dollar library/downtown development plan would have been worth it?

SloMo 8 years, 3 months ago

So which big local developer will get this plum?

We don't need a library with gift shops and coffee shops incorporated into the design - that's for cities whose libraries don't sit in a downtown area with nearby gift shops and coffee shops.

All we need is a slightly bigger building, more books, and more staff. Those things ( and people) can be had for a lot less than $30million.

This city commission is clearly modeled after the national government - never mind what we can reasonably afford, or what most people want - just keep that money funneled into our friends' pockets.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

"So which big local developer will get this plum?"

They picked Fritzel.

waydownsouth 8 years, 3 months ago

Expand where? The only place to go is up. Parking is already bad at the library. Unless they are going to put it in a whole new location.

Bud Stagg 8 years, 3 months ago

IF they pass this, I will move and take my company and employees with me.

matahari 8 years, 3 months ago

The day they need to expand is the day there is no place left for books (or to sit down) and that is a long way off....what abuut all that space in the garage/basement where they store the thousands of dollars worth of books people donate?

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 3 months ago

They authorized a report--what's the big deal? No ideas are so dangerous or harmful they can't be discussed.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

The Country Club Plaza library is raising private donations for its planned renovation. If the money is not raised, the renovations will not take place. That is responsible leadership.

Centrist 8 years, 3 months ago

I am still in disbelief that Sue Hack & others actually see this as a necessity. Why on earth can't they see the more urgent needs in our community? Like that disgraceful stretch of road they call 19th St. Doesn't exactly welcome prospective students or residents, does it. Or the bumpy-ass ride you get every time you come into Larryville on 23rd St from Hwy 10. Not exactly a "welcome to Lawrence" feeling, is it. In fact, if I didn't work here, I'd boycott Lawrence alltogether until the REAL problems were fixed.

You build or expand libraries when you have a proper, clean, safe and well-maintained town. Lawrence is incomplete and falling further into disrepair!

What is wrong with these people?

midwestmom 8 years, 3 months ago

Wow, I'd really like a really cool, really extravagant car, too. But, I can't afford it. The city can't afford another library. Stop wasting my time and money on this (it costs the taxpayers money everytime a city employee or consultant "researches"). PLEASE CITY HALL - STOP!!!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

I'd rather stay at 17 million. 30 million up includes a $10 million parking package. Fritzell people have plans for expanding parking lots on Vermont at 7th and 8th. The devil is in the details...

I will not support a private retail/public library combination. At that point it is expand on site.

kugrad 8 years, 3 months ago

We cannot afford a new library. They should have a special election and let property owners, the people who will actually have to pay for a new library, to vote. Flame me all you want, but it's pretty easy to vote in favor of something someone else is going to pay for.

WE DO NOT NEED A NEW LIBRARY. THE CURRENT LIBRARY IS JUST FINE. Sure, it isn't the newest model, neither is my car, neither is my house, neither are my clothes. My taxes are going up again this year already, this BEFORE the county goes around and arbitrarily assigns higher taxes to every property in town in a declining real-estate market. How about LOWERING my property taxes since property values are down?
On top of the already existing tax increases, we have higher utility rates and surcharges (taxes) for water, trash, electricity, gas. Gasoline is still quite high, we had to replace our sidewalk thanks to some moron who thinks hundreds of people walk to Central when less than 10 kids come down our block daily, the microburst caused millions in damage and most property owners between 10th and 19th had to pay for all or part of a new roof, federal and state taxes are up, food costs have soared in the last year, but the city commission seems to see homeowners as a bottomless pit. No wishlist is too long. New library? Sounds great, no problemo.

I use the library at least once per week, often more. It ain't fancy, but it gets the job done. Sometime in the future, it will need to be upgraded, but it IS NOT A PRESSING CONCERN. It isn't urgent. It can wait. Now is a poor time to pursue the project. Bad idea. No. Don't do it.

I don't just want a new car, I need one. I'm not going to buy one. I can't afford it. It is called, "Living within your means." The City of Lawrence should hire one of those fancy consulting firms to educate them on THAT concept, because they don't seem to understand it now.

Laura Watkins 8 years, 3 months ago

picture on the front page is ian hrabe, not tom deslauriers.

Mkh 8 years, 3 months ago

Compton just got his first big payback for the election with Walmart. Now it's the Fritzel's turn with the Library and Eldridge on the Hill. It's all about the Benjamins baby.

News_to_me 8 years, 3 months ago

The Library Board chose the Fritzel proposal which was to build a new 30 million dollar library on the site of the Post Office with the city giving the current library site to the Fritzel group for a song. However, I'd say that proposal is probably dead. They're not getting the Post Office site and if the City Commission tries to float a 30 million dollar project, it will be voted down.

Unfortunately, the current library stands in the way of the Fritzel vision for downtown. We'll just have to wait and see how much money they want to throw at it to get it out of their way. Kinda' like the $25,000 they are offering for each of the 8 parking spaces behind their latest acquisition-the old Standard Mutual Life building. Money talks and this City Commission hears it loud and clear!

lawrencechick 8 years, 3 months ago

So we're going to fund an empty bus and an empty library, but we don't have enough money to finish some parks we started and fix the streets.

situveux1 8 years, 3 months ago

My family and I just moved to Lawrence and live close to 19th St. I have four years of school ahead of me. If the city spends $30 million on a library they don't need and continue to ignore 23rd and 19th street improvements, then we'll promptly leave for greener pastures after I'm done. It's sad when I look forward to Kansas City traffic vs. Lawrence traffic. I tried going down 23rd yesterday at about 5:30pm...big mistake.

19th street is a joke. Everybody's got their feathers ruffled about 6th and Wakarusa when it takes 30 minutes to go from Haskell to Iowa via 19th. Give me a break! I know what I thought when we first got here and I drove from the Allen Field House parking garage to our new home...Lawrence streets were kind of ghetto! And if the city spends $30 million on a library rather than streets I'll still be thinking that when we leave!

50YearResident 8 years, 3 months ago

This article was published in the Journal World 2 days ago! People are reading less. Washington - There it sits on your nightstand, that book you've meant to read for who knows how long but haven't yet cracked open. Tonight, as you feel its stare from beneath that teetering pile of magazines, know one thing - you are not alone.

One in four adults reads no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year - half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

"I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool.

That choice by Bustos and others is reflected in book sales, which have been flat in recent years and are expected to stay that way indefinitely. Analysts attribute the listlessness to competition from the Internet and other media, the unsteady economy and a well-established industry with limited opportunities for expansion.

When the Gallup Poll asked in 2005 how many books people had at least started - a similar but not directly comparable question - the typical answer was five. That was down from 10 in 1999, but close to the 1990 response of six.

In 2004, a National Endowment for the Arts report titled "Reading at Risk" found only 57 percent of American adults had read a book in 2002, a four percentage point drop in a decade. The study faulted television, movies and the Internet.

In a few years Libraries will be obsolete. We don't need to spend the money!

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 3 months ago

We cannot afford a new library. Even if we could, we don't need it. No new library!

chocolateplease 8 years, 3 months ago

This commission seems very major-growth oriented, and a new library, along with other redevelopment initiatives downtown and elsewhere, would be bold and forward-thinking, not to mention highly-prized by the community. Shouldn't we try to envision this town in 20 or 30 years being the best it can be?

Yeah sure we could get by, continually falling behind every other library system in the area, barely able to provide for our community what others take for granted from their libraries. But what good does that do us? I'd happily pay more taxes to fund a new library.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

Let the city and the county put an end to the endless approval/denial/delay process and let private money do what it will; the city has no business spending taxpayer dollars to redevelop downtown Lawrence. That is exactly what the library expansion is about. The Board members have said so.

Taxpayer funding of an expanded downtown library? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, etc., etc., etc., etc.,.................................

KsTwister 8 years, 3 months ago

Kind of a stupid thing to increase a library size just when most are going to the new print on demand books which reduces the inventory a library would need. With other accessible libraries in Lawrence this is one pipe dream the voters could not agree to. How about fixing real necessities this city needs first because this is not on that list. Too bad citizens cannot get a court order and stop this stupidity. Nalbandian was mayor in 1993, perhaps he is going to try a repeat performance in 2008?

lunacydetector 8 years, 3 months ago

i heard that the present library was originally designed to have a third floor added should an expansion ever be needed. i suggest hiring an engineer to check the building's footings to see if in fact they could support another level. that, or go into the city minutes from that time period or look at the journal world from that time to see if there were any articles mentioning this as fact before hiring the engineer.

has anyone ever brought this up? expanding up instead of replacing the whole building ? it would be the more financially prudent thing to do if the library must be expanded.

Write2Know 8 years, 3 months ago

It will all be good as long as they include an ice rink in the new library.

cowboy 8 years, 3 months ago

50 year has it right , to deny that the printed page is obsolete is really fooling yourself. I was in printing for 25 years and the number of plants closed in the past decade is staggering.

Bubbles 8 years, 3 months ago

Let's expand the library when fewer people are reading books.

I think we should also install hitiching posts for those who ride horses to town.

cowboy 8 years, 3 months ago

I'd love to be able to ride my horses in town , we need horse trails along side all the streets next to the brand new sidewalks and bike lanes dammit

Currahee 8 years, 3 months ago

Lunacydetector: I think that that's what they're going to try and do. The library doesn't need to be rebuillt- the foundation is enough to handle a top floor. Everyone is always misinterpreting the term EXPANSION. It doesn't mean the library is going to be REBUILT. And 50 year resident, the rate of books being checked out is INCREASING YEARLY as difficult as it may seem.

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