Letters to the Editor

Library options

March 21, 2010


To the editor:

Once again, Lawrence Public Library officials are pushing for a costly expansion of the downtown site instead of looking at other options which 1) don’t involve putting all our resources into a single, very busy location and 2) can be done at a fraction of the cost?

The library cites the need to expand children’s services and acquire more meeting space and computers. Why not partner with budget-strapped USD 497 to create library spaces within the school system? In Chandler, Ariz., and Pueblo, Colo., the public libraries share creatively designed satellite spaces with the local elementary, middle and high schools. The Chandler satellites feature a certified library media specialist at the reference desk to answer students’ questions, plus an MLS-degreed branch manager employed by the public library.

A demographic study could be done to help the library determine the best possible sites for satellite libraries to serve their core constituencies, such as families with children and retirees.

Based on the Chandler and Pueblo examples, capital investment in a cost-sharing partnership with USD 497 could be less than $500,000 (including construction, books, furniture and equipment) for each facility. And yearly operating costs per facility could be as little as $100,000 ($75,000 personnel, $25,000 materials).

Surely, a proposal that promises to greatly increase accessibility of library services throughout our city, enhance school building value and save the taxpayer money is worthy of serious study as an alternative to the single-minded pursuit of an $18 million-plus downtown development project, isn’t it?


aldo 8 years, 3 months ago

Agreed, akuna ... the Monolithic Library approach just doesn't make sense ... they say that more meeting space is needed ? Between KU, Haskell, public and private educational facilites, all the churches , hotels, motels, restaurants and bank buildings in Lawrence, there's plenty of free meeting space available. Replicating what's already available seems a waste of precious resources.

John Davies 8 years, 3 months ago

This seems to be a perennial issue at the Journal World. That we need more library space and that it really shouldn't be downtown (and expensive) is readily apparent to anyone who has spent much time in the Lawrence Public Library. There are all kinds of locations sitting empty in our town that could be utilized for this. Most of them have "free" parking available. I'm sure the construction workers would appreciate it if we were to build something more downtown but I'm pretty sure the rest of us can't afford this!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

There's a reason for centralizing it-- all materials are in the same place, so you know where to get it when you want it. It also doesn't create a "haves" vs. "have-not's" competition for facilities and resources. Once satellite facilities are created in more affluent parts of town (and that's where they'll be located) the pressure will be on to improve them at the expense of the downtown facility, which is precisely what would happen.

barlowtl 8 years, 3 months ago

Satelite libraries could very well be an idea whose time has come. When the present library was planned, it had to be scaled back from day one. In order to get it approved at all there were compromises that had to be made, sharing a city parking lot, bulding on a lot that did not allow of expansion, reducing size and the list goes on. With a careful assessment of the true needs of the community, branches could be strategically placed to meet them. A site that did not live up to potential could be moved much more easily than moving the location of the main library. In order to justify the expense of our original building, an attempt was made to have it answer all the needs thus making sure it would fail to meet any. It's time to think outside the box. Libraries are a vital part of the community, but the services will have to be able to adjust to the new needs. Satelites can help with that. It is said the main library is the living room of the community, making it the hub of smaller speciality libraries will not detract from that.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 3 months ago

This is the wrong debate. The question is: In a time of serious budgetary shortfalls, should our city use taxpayer money to expand a "service" utilized by only a small fraction of our population?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

The current location needs attention no matter what as we speak. Creating new space would be icing on the cake.

Deborah has good concepts in mind however consultants say satellite libraries are not efficient use of dollars. Last time this matter was on the table I did present satellite libraries to the consultants.

To expand on the satellite libraries concept is there any reason the city library could not take over management of existing public library space in say Free State as it is? Rather than any new construction? This could help the USD 497 budget.

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