Advertisement

Archive for Friday, August 24, 2007

Library expansion not being shelved

August 24, 2007

Advertisement

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

Library expansion might move forward

City leaders pulled plans for a library expansion off the shelf. The projecthas been in the works for six years, but today it got a major jump start. For months, plans to build a new Lawrence Public Library have sat, idling at a crossroads. But after a meeting with the Lawrence City Commission, the project may begin to move forward once again. Enlarge video

Reader poll
Should the city expand the public library downtown, or should it build a satellite branch in another part of Lawrence?

or See the results without voting

There are still no easy answers when it comes to a $30 million expansion of the Lawrence Public Library.

But city commissioners on Thursday made it clear there is one answer they don't want to give yet: No.

"I'm not willing to shut the door on it," Mayor Sue Hack said at a study session with members of the library's board of trustees.

The idea of building a new library downtown or expanding the current one - both of which have been estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $30 million - has languished since April's City Commission elections. That's been partially because of a darkening financial picture at City Hall, which has included a slower-than-anticipated growth in sales tax and property tax collections.

Commissioners on Thursday didn't come up with any new ways to pay for a major library project. Instead, they:

  • Directed staff members to prepare a detailed report on what decisions need to be made to undertake a significant library project. Commissioners did not set a timeline for the report, but said it should be sooner rather than later.
  • l Agreed that any major library project should be put to a citywide vote, because it likely would involve a significant increase in the property tax or sales tax rate of the city.
  • l Said that downtown should remain the focus for any new library project. A majority of commissioners also said it made sense for the library to be part of a larger effort to redevelop portions of downtown. Commissioners said a larger, more advanced library could be the type of attraction that would draw more people to downtown, which in turn would help downtown retailers.

Commissioners confirmed that there continues to be significant behind-the-scenes talks regarding downtown redevelopment. Members of the Fritzel family - owners of a longtime Lawrence construction company - have proposed adding significant amounts of retail and residential space to Vermont Street. But all details of the multimillion-dollar plan - which could include expansion of the Eldridge Hotel - haven't been publicly released yet. Hack said more public discussions of downtown redevelopment options likely will begin soon.

Sales tax talk

Any new library project - whether it is part of a public-private partnership or not - will require significant amounts of public funding. Commissioners continued to struggle with how to come up with that money.

Commissioner Mike Amyx said he has to see improvements in the local economy before he's willing to commit to a project.

"We can't just put a timeline on this project," Amyx said. "That wouldn't be a real commitment because we have no way of knowing what the economic picture is going to look like."

Hack said she would be willing to restart discussions about using a new sales tax to fund a library project. That idea previously had been floated, but it failed to gain much momentum after the April elections. Amyx has proposed a half-cent sales tax, but it does not include funding for a library. Instead, it focuses on street and sidewalk projects, and infrastructure improvements designed to attract new jobs.

Hack said Thursday she believes some type of amenity project - either the library or a plan being promoted by citizens to add new recreation facilities to the community - may need to be added to the sales tax plan in order to get voters excited.

Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the next step on a sales tax proposal at a 4 p.m. study session on Monday at City Hall.

Satellite option

Commissioner Boog Highberger said he's also willing to look at ways to fund a library project. He said it is not fair to continue to ask the library to function at a high level in a building that is 35 years old and not large enough to meet Lawrence's population. He also said the City Commission has delayed too long in making a decision on a new downtown library - which has been discussed since 2003.

"I think we have been cheating the library," Highberger said. "I think we're getting way more value from the library than we have a right to expect."

Commissioners Mike Dever and Rob Chestnut also expressed support for a downtown library, although they had questions about how to fund it. Both expressed some interest in creating at least one satellite library to take pressure off the current library. They said a satellite library could be a good stop-gap measure to give the city's finances more time to improve to the point that a major library project would be feasible.

But the other three commissioners did not appear interested in the satellite option. They said the costs for a satellite library may be excessive for a stop-gap measure. They also said that if a satellite location were built in one area of town, there then would be extreme pressure to build an additional satellite in another area of town.

Library leaders pleased

Library leaders said they were pleased with commissioners' comments. John Nalbandian, chairman of the library's board of trustees, said it was important that commissioners agreed to resume serious study of the issue.

"I feel like we're a car idling at an intersection," Nalbandian told commissioners at the beginning of the study session. "We need to decide either to go forward, turn right, turn left, or maybe just pull into the parking lot."

After the meeting, Nalbandian, a former city commissioner, said he thought the project had regained some sense of direction.

"The car is moving forward again," Nalbandian said. "I'm not sure how fast it is moving, but we're pleased that we're moving again."

Comments

Stain 6 years, 11 months ago

Keith (Anonymous) says:

They may never expire, but you do have to reconfirm your address every year or so.

I've had to reconfirm my address about that often. I guess you have to actually VISIT and USE the library to have them ask you to do that. They ask you when you are checking out.

0

50YearResident 6 years, 11 months ago

Start by doing a study (and don't hire a $50,000 consultant) on the total of how many books have been checked out in each of the last 5 years. Your computer records should be able to provide this information. If there is a downward trend on checkouts it needs to be made public information. If there is and upward trend the amount of additional demand also needs to be published. Lets get the facts out before making any decisions on spending $30 Million for something that may soon be obsolete.

0

nell 6 years, 11 months ago

"Hack said Thursday she believes some type of amenity project - either the library or a plan being promoted by citizens to add new recreation facilities to the community - may need to be added to the sales tax plan in order to get voters excited."

So, Hack supports library expansion - the library or something else, like an ice rink - as a way to get the sales tax approved? Sounds like we'll have to fight bait and switch, which is bothersome enough without considering the careless lumping of a library, a cornerstone of a literate and educated society that serves citizens of all ages, incomes and abilities, with pet projects of special interest groups.

0

Keith 6 years, 11 months ago

Hack said Thursday she believes some type of amenity project - either the library or a plan being promoted by citizens to add new recreation facilities to the community - may need to be added to the sales tax plan in order to get voters excited.

It will probably only get the voters excited about replacing her in a few years.

0

Godot 6 years, 11 months ago

50yearresident, your idea is logical, but it misses the point of the library expansion. It has nothing to do with more books, it has nothing to do with "the children", it is all about using taxpayer money to improve the buildings of downtown property owners, to bring more people downtown and to provide more space for political hacks (pardon my pun) to hold meetings. In other words, it is a project that the the city should not be involved in. It is a project that the downtown property owners should fund, entirely.

0

LogicMan 6 years, 11 months ago

"we cannot afford it"

Correct, for now. "Just say no".

And the need for public libraries isn't what it used to be due to shorter attention spans, increasing wealth, and the existence of many other and more convenient outlets for knowledge like big bookstores, used book stores like Half-Price, Amazon, eBay, and on-line publications.

But there will always be the poor, so when funds do become available consider instead selling the current downtown location and opening up a few smaller locations in the historically poor parts of town. North and east Lawrence come to mind, and pre-school, after-school, and weekend educational/vocational/civics programs should be emphasized there. But if the Commission shrivels when faced with the prospect of leaving downtown, the Carnegie building could easily be renovated and reopened as the "central library", and it should emphasize adult education/training.

This is an opportunity for Lawrence to truely be "progressive".

Wow -- make me the "Library Czar/Visionary", on one of those lucrative consulting contracts, and it will be done.

0

Stain 6 years, 11 months ago

The city library is augmented by the KU library which is available to any Kansas resident.

Any Kansas resident.

0

sab 6 years, 11 months ago

Why bother having our own decent library when we can mooch off Topeka? Heck, let them foot the bill...as long as we have access to their stuff, we may as well leech off them.

0

Godot 6 years, 11 months ago

"sab (Anonymous) says:

Why bother having our own decent library when we can mooch off Topeka? Heck, let them foot the bill:as long as we have access to their stuff, we may as well leech off them."

Here we go with the Topeka-envy again.

0

6 years, 11 months ago

At my family's own fault we had some overdue book fees several months, if not a year old. These fees were nearly $10 and I had no problem paying them. I was shocked, however, at the clerk's comments that they don't even bother trying to collect unless the fee was "really large". I thought this was a large amount and was prepared to pay or have my borrowing rights suspended. Now if say 5,000 patrons owe $10 that isn't chump change, it's 1/2 million!

The library needs to suspend borrowing rights at 10 times the lowest overdue fee (which is currently 10 cents according to their site).

0

Bud Stagg 6 years, 11 months ago

My children or I have no use for the library. My kids use the school libraries and I use the bookstores or internet. Libraries are for the little kids to be read to and for the homeless and poor to use the internet for porn.

If we keep finding ways to support the homeless, they won't go away to other towns where it is easier for them. If we make life easier for them, they won't help themselves. I got acosted yet again yesterday downtown, this guy was almost violent about me giving him a quarter.

0

wheatridge 6 years, 11 months ago

Move all the books onto the "T" and JoCo busses. People will read and ride; next expansion will be easy and cheap, buy more biofuel busses that burn french-fry fat from fast food bus stops.

0

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years, 11 months ago

At my family's own fault we had some overdue book fees several months, if not a year old. These fees were nearly $10 and I had no problem paying them. I was shocked, however, at the clerk's comments that they don't even bother trying to collect unless the fee was "really large". I thought this was a large amount and was prepared to pay or have my borrowing rights suspended. Now if say 5,000 patrons owe $10 that isn't chump change, it's 1/2 million!

The city where I used to live had overdue fees that capped at $1 per item. It was a great idea because plenty of people hang on to long overdue books out of fear of the large late fees. How many times have people cleaned out a closet and found an old library book in there. Plenty, probably. The $1 cap helped get the books returned...even if they were a year overdue.

0

sab 6 years, 11 months ago

Joehawk, have you bothered to find out what a library can offer? Topeka's library has tons of programs for all ages as well as books, movies, internet, etc. The place is always busy. Godot, this isn't about Topeka envy, it is about Lawrence deserving a first class library.

0

Godot 6 years, 11 months ago

sab, Lawrence doesn't "deserve" anything that causes increased taxes.

0

Bud Stagg 6 years, 11 months ago

Sab, I have nothing against a library. I just don't see ours being used and I don't see a huge demand for it. Many of the citizens of this town are going another direction and a library doesn't fit. OUr kids get their library needs satisfied at school and most adults use book stores or the internet. Are you telling me a 30 million dollar project will get people to use the library???

It's just more T logic, build it and they will use it. It worked so well for that.

We are spending millions on items for the few who don't pay much in the way of taxes and leaving the many with crappy roads, poor service, poor recreation facilities, etc.

I just drove through Wamego and they are building a huge new baseball complex that is very nice. Nicer than anything we have built in 15 years. They are about 10% the size of Lawrence??? How can they afford that and our kids are playing on 40 year old fields that are just crap. Our high schools have crappy football facilities. Everyone around us has synthetic turf, we have mud.

Instead we have more homeless shelters and empty buses per capita than any town I know. Do you hear that whistling noise? It's the noise made when your city sucks.

0

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

The library is a busy place is our experience at various times Monday through Saturday.

FAQ:

http://www.lawrence.lib.ks.us/newdir/index.html

0

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

If the library is put to a vote will it be a: 17 million dollar project ( no parking package)( only package that gets my vote) 22 million dollar project 30 million dollar project 50 million dollar project no improvements Why is a $10 million parking project attached to the cost of the library?

0

costello 6 years, 11 months ago

"My children or I have no use for the library. My kids use the school libraries and I use the bookstores or internet. Libraries are for the little kids to be read to and for the homeless and poor to use the internet for porn."

Well, la de da! I use the library. I'm there at least once a week. I have half a dozen books checked out right now. And I'm not homeless, a little kid, or poor.

0

costello 6 years, 11 months ago

"I just drove through Wamego and they are building a huge new baseball complex that is very nice."

My children or I have no use for a baseball complex. No one in my family would personally use a baseball complex, so the city shouldn't build one.

0

costello 6 years, 11 months ago

"As a whole the library concept is outdated."

Oh?

0

costello 6 years, 11 months ago

"Start by doing a study on the total of how many books have been checked out in each of the last 5 years."

Done! http://www.lawrence.lib.ks.us/newdir/1972.html

Circulation statistics for LPL:

2002: 780,098 2003: 787,650 2004: 852,813 2005: 933,023 2006: 1,023,697

0

Stain 6 years, 11 months ago

jcstepmom28 (Anonymous) says: At my family's own fault we had some overdue book fees several months, if not a year old. These fees were nearly $10 and I had no problem paying them. I was shocked, however, at the clerk's comments that they don't even bother trying to collect unless the fee was "really large".

When the fee hits $10 you cannot check out more until you pay it down. This makes sense. It would cost more to try to collect every nickel and dime than the library would reap.

0

OnAir 6 years, 11 months ago

I hope none of you vote because this must be the largest collection of the least informed and most opinionated lemmings that has scurried around the Earth. 50,000 different people in Lawrence use the library, over a million items are circulated, every meeting space is full every day, the story times are experiments in sardine packing and distracting the firemarshall, the staff do absolute miracles with a lousy facility, huge demand, and you buch of knee-jerk, whiling malcontents. Maybe the Library should leave so you can complain about that too. Goodbye.

0

costello 6 years, 11 months ago

"really now? 50,000 different people use the library eacy day? OnAir is on something alright and seeing not double but quadruple."

Where do you get this "each day" business? You've deliberately misquoted OnAir.

0

Godot 6 years, 11 months ago

With such command of the facts about the library, OnAir must be one of the supposedly friendly, helpful, non-judgmental librarians on staff at the Lawrence Public Library.....or one of the board members who was supposedly appointed to represent the community as a whole, as opposed to representing a special interest group.

0

Godot 6 years, 11 months ago

Did you know that Lawrence Public Library cards never expire? Neat way to keep the numbers of registered users growing, right?

0

Keith 6 years, 11 months ago

They may never expire, but you do have to reconfirm your address every year or so.

0

KsTwister 6 years, 11 months ago

"50,000 different people in Lawrence use the library, over a million items are circulated, every meeting space is full every day"

Your kidding right?? I go enough to know the stretched out truth when I read it. Do I check out books there -No. I am either helping kids with school assignments and no safe transportation or trying to find the microfiche in 1973 that tells where the building was constructed to go two floors straight up.

0

Godot 6 years, 11 months ago

"Keith (Anonymous) says:

They may never expire, but you do have to reconfirm your address every year or so."

I have lived here for nearly 30 years. Never, ever, have I had to reconfirm my address, and the same library card serves me well.. And my kids' cards are still valid, even though they have long since moved to other states.

0

ksteacher 6 years, 11 months ago

Godot says: "I have lived here for nearly 30 years. Never, ever, have I had to reconfirm my address, and the same library card serves me well.. And my kids' cards are still valid, even though they have long since moved to other states."

You must be one of the only ones that aren't getting confirmed. I use the library frequently and I've have mine confirmed several times--indeed, probably about once/year.

It's really sad to see so many people bashing the idea of expanding our library. And having a library at school to use, doesn't mean that we don't have use for a public one. I WORK in a school and I still frequent our public library. I also love Borders, but I don't necessarily want to buy every book that I want to read!

I would vote for a new library in a heartbeat--even if it meant an additional sales tax!

0

toefungus 6 years, 11 months ago

It seems public employees have no respect for taxpayers. If you work for the government, at any level, you should not be able to vote for tax increases that support your own pay.

0

danapoint2lawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

Either build it or scrap it. I hate it when they run a big ol' article about visions of this new library expansion and then they do diddley squat about it. All talk and nothing to show for it. Like I said, either draw up a plan and go with it or quit talking about it and tell the people our budget sucks and we can't expand or build a new library.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.