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Archive for Friday, June 18, 2010

$18M expansion of library would add space, parking, other features

‘This is a real opportunity to create a signature public building for the community’

Nina Friesen, Lawrence, reads outside the Lawrence Public Library after checking out a book Thursday. Kansas education officials now have joined 37 other states in adopting national proficiency standards for reading and math.

Nina Friesen, Lawrence, reads outside the Lawrence Public Library after checking out a book Thursday. Kansas education officials now have joined 37 other states in adopting national proficiency standards for reading and math.

June 18, 2010

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Library expansion would meet local needs

Plans to expand the Lawrence Public Library would help meet the needs of those who use the facility in downtown Lawrence. Expansion plans include more parking space an upgraded services. Enlarge video

A proposed expansion to the Lawrence Public library includes a renovated entrance on Vermont Street, shown in this artist’s rendering.

A proposed expansion to the Lawrence Public library includes a renovated entrance on Vermont Street, shown in this artist’s rendering.

This artist’s rendering shows the floor plan of the proposed expansion to the Lawrence Public Library.

This artist’s rendering shows the floor plan of the proposed expansion to the Lawrence Public Library.

Leaders of the Lawrence Public Library on Thursday found out just what $18 million will buy them when it comes to a downtown expansion.

Soon enough, they may find out whether the public will buy it.

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Should the City Commission allow a public referendum in November on an $18 million expansion for the Lawrence Public Library?

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The Lawrence-based architectural firm Gould Evans told library board members that $18 million will cover a 20,000-square-foot expansion, allow parking to double, and leave enough funds for the entire library to be renovated.

“This is a real opportunity to create a signature public building for the community,” said City Commissioner Aron Cromwell, who serves as a liaison to the library board. “And we can do it while doubling the amount of parking in this area of downtown.”

Now, it is just up to city commissioners and voters to sign off on the proposal. The library board estimates the city’s mill levy would need to increase by 1.5 mills for 20 years to pay off new bonds that would have to be issued for the project. Library leaders also believe an additional 0.5 mill is necessary to fund increased operational costs of a larger library.

City commissioners are scheduled to hear the proposal at a study session next Thursday. If commissioners like the proposal, they will vote in early July to put the plan on the November ballot. Because of its size, commissioners have decided the project must be presented directly to voters.

Among the specific features included in the library expansion plan presented Thursday:

• The library would grow to about 66,500 square feet, and all areas would be upgraded. The existing library would be extended about 30 feet closer to Vermont Street. New space also would stretch south down Vermont into parts of the existing parking lot.

• The children’s area of the library would double in size, and would include a separate space for young adults.

• A three-level parking garage — larger than originally envisioned — would be built on a portion of the current parking lot. The garage would have 250 spaces, up from 125 today. Parking would account for about $4.3 million of the project’s costs.

• Meeting space in the library would double, and would be arranged to allow for up to nine separate meeting rooms and six reading rooms.

• A drive-through book drop-off and service window would be added to the west side of the library.

• The reconfigured library would have room for 100 additional public access computers.

“The library really will become much more of a destination,” said Mike Machell, chairman of the library’s board.

This is the second recent effort by leaders to increase the library’s presence in the community. During 2006, the library board — after debating several downtown sites — recommended a $30 million project that would have built a new 94,000-square-foot library with 260 underground parking spaces at the site of the downtown post office. But that project never won city commissioners’ support.

Despite this proposal being smaller in square footage, Cromwell said the expansion will serve the library’s needs for years to come, and expansions further down the line likely would be satellite locations.

“I think we really will get all that we would have gotten before, and we have a much more attractive price tag,” Cromwell said.

Comments

frankfussman 4 years, 6 months ago

Go for it!!! We've got to get our library up to standard.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 6 months ago

It should be funded by private donations.

To even suggest raising taxes at this time to pay for this is proof of insanity.

An appropriate response would be throwing rocks at city hall.

chzypoof1 4 years, 6 months ago

PLEASE tell me this is still regarded as a JOKE....We can't pay for what we have now, including our teachers/better roads/etc...now we want to pay $18mil for something that maybe 1% of the population uses? NO WAY.

At least they are smart and will put it to a vote

Unbelievable....

poof

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm all for this library improvement.

However it seems to me the builders of the new apartments at 9th and New Hampshire should also be required to provide parking for their tenants.

Projects such as the failing "New Urbanism" Baur Farms retail project should have been put to a vote for that failure gets into our tax dollar pockets in a big way. My guess is voters would have said NO.

City Hall is ready to blow millions upon millions on Farmland declaring the plot of ground one of the most important in Lawrence history yet OUR city library must beg and beg. What a shame.

OUR city library has been neglected for wayyyyyyyyy to long. It is a busy place. Books will never be replaced by computers. Computer reading is a huge strain on the eyes.

Libraries are points of culture in a city and provide a wealth of information. Thank you city library for being there as our children have reaped the benefits. Yes many many many stories have been read to them by the bagful until they decided to take up reading on their own. Thanks again library for being their for our children as they took up making their own choices after becoming book worms.

gatekeeper 4 years, 6 months ago

Hey Lawrenceguy - I'm as liberal as they come, but think this library expansion is absurd. If this city had enough money to maintain roads and basic services and could afford this, or could do it w/private funds, then great. But not at time when the city can't afford to even fix potholes.

Are you able to comment on something w/out being rude and making stereotypical statements about liberals?

You sir need to grow up. You are acting like the child.

overthemoon 4 years, 6 months ago

I would love to see an expanded library. With books in it. But it seems that books are becoming, sadly, obsolete in libraries.

On my last visit I found that sections that in the past have been extensive are now reduced to just a few shelves surrounded by many feet of empty shelves. Then I stopped by the book sale and found a huge number of books from that section on sale for a buck or less a piece. Big art books. Expensive. Probably never to be replaced. With the collections dwindling, where is the need for more space?

I realize that the availability of digital information....but the digital age also means our community 'destinations' are not necessarily in buildings. This is not perhaps such a great thing. Can this expanded building be a strong enough magnet to encourage people to interact with real actual people? To open a real actual book? I guess I'd like to see a much more detailed discussion of what exactly a library is these days to convince me that this is a feasible project. If its just a jazzed up bookless indoor playground, I'm not sure we can justify it.

overthemoon 4 years, 6 months ago

Actually, there are some really interesting and very attractive buildings being done using shipping containers...some in the US, a lot in Europe and Japan, where they always do innovative things years before we get around to copying them.

Yes the building needs to be attractive and timely, not 'timeless' which is a hugely overused and ridiculously impossible goal in civic architecture. Let it speak of our times. It should be an indication of our community spirit and ambitions, not our stinginess. Is that canopy ok? Trendy? yes. I'd suggest that its kind of last year's (last decade) fashion statement. Come on Steve and Steve, you can do better than that.

And it should be functional to the extreme. Like using the roof and upper level of the parking garage as green public space which not only give the community more space for concerts/ workshops etc but also reduces the solar gain on the building. Make every single square foot work 18 hours a day...or more.

overthemoon 4 years, 6 months ago

Actually, we've had 5000 years of architecture that spoke of its time...even the revivalist periods which tell of a nostalgia and perception that the past was better. Timeless, in our day and age, usually translates to banal and merely inoffensive. Or it merely makes fuzzy copies of periods when construction technology and cultural ambition were far different than they are now. There are examples of excellence and utter failure in every period. And the library is not really brutalist. The Lutheran church at the corner of 15th and Iowa is probably the best example of that style in town. I find it to be a quite appealing building.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

KCMO rehabilitated the downtown library = quite a nice place.

JOCO has a new library on 87th.

I say libraries are a long wayyyyyyyyy from dying.

We are frequent flyers of the library for books,movies and information. It seems to be a busy place. The bottom line this library has been neglected. Lawrence must stop moving backwards.

been_there 4 years, 6 months ago

Another parking garage for the homeless to use as a toilet at night. Who is going to clean it up? Yes, we will have to pay someone to do it. $4.3 million for an extra 125 parking spots. That is $34,400 per parking spot.

mikeisthename 4 years, 6 months ago

Hey, at least some jobs will be created.
Right?

Scattered 4 years, 6 months ago

Your planners need to come to Salina!

When the library board announced they were going to move the children's section to the lower level-previously used as storage- I was disheartened. I can't stand basements, and I imagined a dreary, dark and ugly space. Wrong! The southern wall of most of the lower level as been made into an enormous wall of glass - the land sloping gently upwards to ground level so there is an abundance of light. It's much cheerier and brighter than the former upstairs space! The area is huge - with lots of charming reading areas, etc.

Is this a possibiity for Lawrence, instead of another yuck parking garage?

Scattered 4 years, 6 months ago

Your planners need to come to Salina!

When the library board announced they were going to move the children's section to the lower level-previously used as storage- I was disheartened. I can't stand basements, and I imagined a dreary, dark and ugly space. Wrong! The southern wall of most of the lower level as been made into an enormous wall of glass - the land sloping gently upwards to ground level so there is an abundance of light. It's much cheerier and brighter than the former upstairs space! The area is huge - with lots of charming reading areas, etc.

Is this a possibiity for Lawrence, instead of another yuck parking garage?

yourneighbor 4 years, 6 months ago

Unfortunately, there isn't any unused "storage" space in the basement of this library. Glad your library found a good solution, but it isn't applicable for this building.

fan4kufootball 4 years, 6 months ago

I would love to see an improved library but.....the time is not right. Money is short. Also - no need to build another parking garage at the same time as the improvements. When I go to the library there is plenty of parking. If and when the new improved library is used by more and more parking is needed then it could be looked at. I agree with another post that an additional parking garage is too expensive and would be used by other downtown business shoppers and not by library patrons.

Also - is this the only bid? Need at least three bids.

chzypoof1 4 years, 6 months ago

Before we pay for this, can we start logging how many people actually use the library? Maybe a checkin process to verify that the 22 people on here that love the library so much aren't the reason why we are going to pay $34k per parking spot.

I think if most people could step back from their perch, they would realize that this type of renovation is just to battle the inevitable: Printed books will be mostly unused by the time the bonds are paid off........

poof

slowplay 4 years, 6 months ago

30 years ago prognosticators were proclaiming the end of printed books. Brick and mortar Libraries would no longer be needed. Hasn't happened, most likely never will. Back on subject: I'm not sure if this is the best time to be spending money, and I would like to be more informed, but if it was on the ballot, it would get my vote.

mikeisthename 4 years, 6 months ago

It is not the best time to spend money on improvements to the library, but I agree improvements are needed.
The library has been part of Lawrence's culture for decades. It is entrenched in the community so it would be hard to let go and not improve it.
On point, if more information came out I would read it to understand what it is about.

kwhit14 4 years, 6 months ago

This would be amazing! It would be a valuable resource for current and future residents in line with modern needs.

overthemoon 4 years, 6 months ago

a book co-op. that's sort of what Franklin had in mind when he established the first library. only he thought it should be free so people could avail themselves of the books and become educated. i guess that's an idea, being educated and all, that is obsolete.

9070811 4 years, 6 months ago

looks like the architecture will be really fugly. Just like the Arts Center. Why can't we do some classical style? Come on, they're so much more classy, especially for a learning/service institution.

costello 4 years, 6 months ago

I love libraries. I work in a library, and I'm a regular library user. I'd love to see the Lawrence Public Library improved and expanded. But there's no money right now. Now just isn't the time.

montevideo 4 years, 6 months ago

Haha, a "classical style" - you mean, like, the Oread Hotel? What a classy and beautiful place - looks like the ol' child labor factories of yore.

Jeanne Cunningham 4 years, 6 months ago

Spend the $$$ on laptop computers and wireless access points for kids (and adults) who don't have them. Or for bus passes for kids who want to come to the library but can't get there. If the goal is to actually get information to people, do it with the tools that people use.

Do something that DOES good instead of something that LOOKS good.

no_thanks 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm not opposed to an investment in our library that increases parking (which is good for downtown in general), enhances the exterior, and invests in technology. But, there is no way I can support an $18MM project as I believe it is a complete misallocation of resources. Clearly, the digital era has led to a steep decline in newspaper and magazine subscriptions, and printed books aren't far behind. So, we would be investing in a decaying asset. Further, the library already receives $3MM per year from our property taxes for general operations. How in the world does the library not have enough excess cash flow to fund most of what they are asking, especially with long-term bond financing?

Kontum1972 4 years, 6 months ago

looks like Nina is on the hand phone...LoL

BigPrune 4 years, 6 months ago

This will happen because it is being put to a public vote. Just like the extra funding for the M-T Bus passed, I am sure the library debacle will pass with similar margins. The powers that be want it to happen and somehow they will get an overwhelming amount of votes to make it a landslide.

$277 per square foot is the number I find questionable, but it comes from one of the most expensive far-out architectural firms in town.

kugrad 4 years, 6 months ago

There will come a time for this project. It is NOT now. We can't afford it. Homeowners would bear the cost burden. If they found some way to fund it other than property tax, I'd rethink it; but homeowners can't afford yet another increase. We have electric and trash increases on the way, we already have school bond increases, we just can't carry on like this.

The city needs to ask; "If we fund this project, what will we stop doing to offset the cost?"

I've got a vision of a remodeled kitchen in my house, but I can't afford it. Good vision, bad timing. Sorry Library, I love you, I use you weekly, but THE LIBRARY IS FINE. It MEETS OUR NEEDS NOW. There are other places to meet and other places for internet access.

IndusRiver 4 years, 6 months ago

Complete waste of money that no one has earned, yet, but that's Lawrence.

conservative 4 years, 6 months ago

Unfortunately overindulgent projects like this have a good chance of passing. The supporters of this proposal will work tirelessly to bring out the college voters. The idealistic ones who think that projects like this are a great thing for the city and don't have to think about the costs because they will only stay here for a few years.

beatrice 4 years, 6 months ago

The timing for such an expansion seems inappropriate. A great library would be a fabulous thing for the city of Lawrence, but sometimes you have to make do with what you have. Perhaps later, when times are better.

staff04 4 years, 6 months ago

Re: the headline:

One would certainly hope so.

volunteer 4 years, 6 months ago

I'd vote for a new carpet. But not a new library.

And are fewer books checked out as more videos are being checked out? There indeed seem to be fewer bibloiphiles and more movie fans.

Do the dreamers/spenders want to add a coffee shop as the Topeka library did? Then, the Topeka library board quietly decided salaries of the 105 employees needed to be raised to NATIONAL average (never mind the cost of living in Topeka is relatively low)..so they cut in HALF the money budgeted for new materials in order to give extraordinary pay increases. (now the figure given is 58 grand plus benefits; not sure if that is Topeka's median or average)

So...somebody out there, please watch the library board. Be more alert than the Topeka/Shawnee County residents in this regard. I fear that with a big pot of money, funny (odd, not ha-ha) things could happen.

been_there 4 years, 6 months ago

Do we really need 6 reading rooms? Places for 100 more computers means 100 more computers.

Frank Hays 4 years, 6 months ago

This has become a hangout for the homeless dirtbag scum that congregate downtown. Tear this old relic down and digitize all of its contents and make it available online. Paper books are going the way of carbon paper and typewriters. Lets not put $18m of hard earned tax dollars into a bygone era. Take the $18m and give everyone who makes under $30,000 a year a netbook (if they want it) and give them a free hotspot and and they can download all of the library materials they want free of charge as members of a virtual library. The $18m turns into $5m and we enter a new era. Glory be! Start thinking in new ways or you will be destined to ruin.

breeze 4 years, 6 months ago

I lived in Lawrence a good long time and enjoyed using the public library. It's difficult for me to understand how this handful of vocal readers of the Journal-World could be so opposed to something that does great social good. There are many people in Lawrence who do appreciate the library and use it for information, reference help and pleasure reading or viewing. They may not comment on this site because they are busy learning and doing, rather than carping and whining. I suggest that everyone who has a negative impression of the library or no impression at all, visit it and ask the staff what they think. They are intelligent, well-trained capable people who will be happy to explain why libraries are essential to the continuation of a free, informed society. Speak to Bruce Flanders, he is personable and approachable and only hoping to help his hometown by urging improvements of the library. Instead of automatically opposing anything that costs money (and really, what doesn't cost something?) why not get the facts and support those services which help?

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

I used to use the library weekly, and unless it's changed significantly, there is much room for improvement in the basic day to day functioning that wouldn't require an $18 million expansion.

And, we just increased the sales tax for roads and public transportation.

And, the economy is not great.

And, there are much simpler and less expensive ways to improve library services. For example, there is lots of vacant retail space in the Tanger outlet mall - why not simply create an annex, with site-specific function? If one created meeting rooms there, just one idea, then space/parking would be freed up in the current library for other uses.

And, if the space is just meeting space, it doesn't need to have check-out capability, or sensors to prevent theft. You'd really just need a phone line, and one staff member to make reservations. Sounds pretty cheap to me.

Given how long those spaces have been vacant, I imagine the city could rent some for a reasonable price.

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