Letters to the Editor

Library vote

April 2, 2010

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To the editor:

We encourage the City Commission to authorize a public vote on library expansion. The demand is real; evident in increasing numbers of budding entrepreneurs, community groups and our neighbors and children who use the library.

New libraries nationwide have seen dramatic increases in patronage. Contemporary libraries are not the libraries we grew up with. Now, they are places where children and teens do homework and are tutored, where entrepreneurs have access to databases not available on home computers, where adults enjoy book clubs, where community meeting rooms and programs are available, and where younger children benefit from an array of programs. In short, the library has become a community center, a rare location where people from all walks of life and all ages come together to learn, to think, to deliberate and to enjoy.

Our library is located at the center of our community — downtown. Within the last decade, the library proposed to meet expanding demand with branches or a storefront presence. The library board took that proposal to the City Commission which decided — wisely we think — that the library helps anchor our downtown and future investments in library services should focus on its present location.

We think 10 years is long enough to debate library expansion. Citizens of Lawrence deserve the opportunity to tell us what role our library will play in helping to define Lawrence’s character today and shaping its future.

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

WE have s sales tax in place since 1995 that could fund this project so as to prevent a new sales tax or property tax increase.

I say put it to a vote during the November general election. This way taxpayers do not pay special election fees.

I want to vote yes!

Thanks John and Carol for the letter.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 1 month ago

If library supporters want an expanded facility or new branches, they are welcome to raise funds from private sources to pay for their new - and very expensive - initiatives.

However, our city has no right to threaten 100% of us with the spending desires of 51% of us.

workinghard 5 years, 1 month ago

What percentage of Lawrence residents use the public library? Meaning not have a card, but actually use it at least once every say 4 months? Then calculate the children's section vs the adult section since I imagine the percentage would be higher in the childrens section.

Dylan Shmalberg 5 years, 1 month ago

i couldn't disagree more with expanding the library that would cost 18 million dollars. When they could of built a new one that was up to date, and was architecturally pleasing for around 30-50 million depending on what proposal they would have chosen . So why provide more of the same boring, and ugly library. I also highly doubt that the cost will stay around 18 million, because nothing ever goes as plans. I am all for a better library, but expanding the one we have wont do a thing to make people go there in the long run. Do not get me wrong I am for a better library just not an expansion of the current one

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Morning,

Once again "Downtown" becomes an argument for the placement of civic activity in Lawrence. Why? Those of us west of the campus pay taxes (a lot) and consider ourselves citizens of this town. Placement of civic amenities should not be based on some pronouncement that ultimately serves only a small number of business persons.

Civic amenities should be placed all around the town as we have done with recreation centers. There is absolutely no reason we can not build/rent an annex somewhere else in town that offers more meeting facilities, more parking (free) and a second pleasant environment for people to read. Force fitting a larger facility in "Downtown" is a waste of my money and ultimately a slap in the face of people who live further away.

This continued notion that those west of the campus are lesser citizens to be preyed upon for revenue but basically denied services unless they drive across the town is divisive and counterproductive. My back is getting up. I would like to hear a lot more about “Lawrence” and a lot less about "Downtown"!!

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 1 month ago

Moderate, the government has absolutely no business providing a "pleasant environment for people to read."

With all due respect, government recreation facilities and unneeded satellite library locations only serve to contribute to our immorally high federal, state and local tax rates.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (anonymous) says…

While I tend to agree that our governments are overdoing the tax thing, I kind of accept that in Lawrence I am going to get taxed. If so, I at least want a say in where they put that which they think I need.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 1 month ago

If it were some kind of essential need for the fire, police or ambulance service I'd be willing to consider it.

I think it is safe to say, most taxpayers like myself just can't afford this right now. When things get better in this country (if that happens) I'd be all for considering it. So for now this vote would be "NO".

Sounds to me like it is time for the members of the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library to step up and open their wallets.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

mr_right_wing (anonymous) says…

I believe they are going to let us vote on this so WE will decide (including countless numbers of students at KU who will not be here long enough to retire the bonds needed to do it).

I sure wish that our law givers would let us vote on the proposed new recreation center. Letting that portion of our very high sales tax expire in the face of an almost assured increase in the states' share of sales taxes might just be what a majority would wants. We can certainly build a new recreation center and a better library in a few years when the economy improves (if all our other desires like carbon taxes do not eat us alive).

Interesting philosophical argument here about just when do taxes become too high so that people stop working or work less because they draw no benefit from working harder or longer.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 1 month ago

But Mr. (always)Right Wing didn't say any of that.

mr_right_wing (anonymous) says…

I believe they are going to let us vote on this so WE will decide (including countless numbers of students at KU who will not be here long enough to retire the bonds needed to do it).

I sure wish that our law givers would let us vote on the proposed new recreation center. Letting that portion of our very high sales tax expire in the face of an almost assured increase in the states' share of sales taxes might just be what a majority would wants. We can certainly build a new recreation center and a better library in a few years when the economy improves (if all our other desires like carbon taxes do not eat us alive).

Interesting philosophical argument here about just when do taxes become too high so that people stop working or work less because they draw no benefit from working harder or longer.

thoughtpolice 5 years, 1 month ago

I was amused by Settingtherecordstraight's comment: "However, our city has no right to threaten 100% of us with the spending desires of 51% of us."

Isn't that called 'democracy' ? The library has some excellent resources on the subject. Settingtherecordstraight should check them out.

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 1 month ago

I am not a big fan of crisis management. It usually occurrs because of a long drought of good management. The decisions made are usually less than desirable.

In government, the solution to poor management of funds seems to usually be taking a bigger piece of the private citizen's hard won income.

When the schools were in danger of closing, everyone was up in arms and literally freaking out. But expensive land that was purchased with millions of dollars was just sitting out there, providing nests for birds and poop from passing coyotes.

Here we go again. Something we DEFINITELY can not afford in what Obama said was the worst economy since the Great Depression. You remember. The big one.

Now we are looking at an $18 million expansion of a library at the worst possible time. Why?

Because somebody knows somebody that can push this through and we have a town full of idealistic young people who are still not understanding the real world even though they will argue til sundown that they know more than you.

Poor management. Poor governing. Your life just got harder.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

thoughtpolice (anonymous) says…

Math did not add up, did it. Or did it???

I might point out that we have some how moved to where about 40% of us pay for what the 60% who pay little or nothing want. Not sure that is democracy. Founding fathers did not design our system that way. Works great for the 60%. I am not so sure it works so well for the 40%

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 1 month ago

thoughtpolice,

That's the difference between a direct democracy where every decision is put to the voters and a representative democracy where we trust elected officials to make wise spending decisions.

I do not support constantly putting tax increases before the voters. Under such a scenario, it is impossible to achieve a tax reduction. The only possible outcomes are the blessed status quo or a tax hike.

If only Kansas had a taxpayers bill of rights where government spending was limited to inflation plus population growth.

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