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?