Letters to the Editor

Library ‘yes’

October 27, 2010


To the editor:

The current economy is a good reason to vote “yes” for the library.

Construction costs are competitive and will most likely increase in the future.

The proposed project will create jobs for local contractors and their subs.

It is much less expensive than the original plans.

Interest rates are at historic lows.

The ongoing economic correction increases demand for information about the emerging economy. Increased public access to information will stimulate future economic growth in the community.

Whether or not you’re short on cash, the library is a great place to find information, entertainment and solace. There are free computers for people looking for jobs, free guidance for student research projects, free books for curious minds.

A “yes” vote is an investment in the long-term economic health of our community. We cannot permit an anemic economy to undermine our vision for the future.

I’m voting “yes” for the library because it is the very essence of our town, as essential to our quality of life as an outstanding community hospital and a diverse park system.

Please join me in voting “yes” for the library.

Judy Keller,



1029 7 years, 5 months ago

You're living in the past, lady. Libraries have no place in the society of the future. The only people who still go to libraries are homeless people and deviant teenagers who are looking for a place to have sex.

4reasonablediscourse 7 years, 5 months ago

Why all this hostility to the homeless? I work in a "helping" profession, and currently know a lot of homeless formerly wealthy republicans. We are almost all an economic crisis, a job, and a few months from homelessness, so be careful about hacking at a net you may very well need to land in someday. People without homes need the library for moments of peace, not just job searching, and I need it for that too. Lots of people use the computer resources at the library. Many families use the library for books for their children, and it's better for the environment for us to share these resources than for every person to purchase and then throw away every book they want to read in their lifetimes. And when in human history did it become "deviant" for teenagers to want to have sex? Teenagers - and most other humans - sometimes want to have sex. However I haven't noticed them doing it at the library, and I have a hard time imagining where they would find the privacy to do so. I think this is a red herring, 1029......or a bit of trolling....

pace 7 years, 5 months ago

lie, for some just as good as being accurate and polite, but different. Libraries and education should be invested in. We are in global competition for jobs, just to write American society off as bunch of homeless people and teenagers out for sex is your satisfying dismissive remark. but not true, hence liar. Probably if you think way back, there are plenty of places for deviant behavior ( which many of us just refer to as sex). There is a need for bigger better facility, the existing parking lot serves the existing facility on most days. It would not serve the parking needs for the future. Yes on children's space, yes on more computers, and yes on not committing to a 2010 buying list, Data, information, literature is going through an electronic revolution. The library will be a resource for families, young students,us old folks. We especially need to enable kids to access this future. Mega data floods are coming your kids way, The new library will be an ark and a rudder. PS. People who leave their kid's research and learning skills to google are guilty of neglect. Google is a commercial search engine, yes it is handy but not the hand I want holding my kids hand when as they cross the information highway.

WHY 7 years, 5 months ago

If we need an 18 million dollar stimulus cut taxes by 18 million.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

This project will accomplish the following goals:

Goal 1: Responsible re-use of the current facility. The library would remain in its current location, and would continue to serve as an anchor and magnet for downtown Lawrence.

Goal 2: Meeting the demands of the community. The expansion would add between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet to the current building, and would focus on three primary goals: (1) doubling the size of our overcrowded children’s room; (2) adding community meeting room space in response to extraordinary demand; and (3) providing more reading and computer areas.

Goal 3: Improved customer service. The project would renovate existing library spaces to upgrade their efficiency, functionality and appearance. Library support spaces would be made more functional through the implementation of new technology such as RFID materials handling systems.

Goal 4: Savings through energy efficiency. Even with the addition of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet to the existing building, the newly-renovated library facility would be redesigned to use less energy than the current facility does, through the application of sustainable / green strategies.

Goal 5: Downtown Parking Solution. The project would also feature a modest structured parking solution and additional angled parking on 7th and Vermont streets to increase parking from 178 spaces to approximately 230 spaces. The additional parking would not only help the library, but also would serve the outdoor pool and senior center.

It is estimated that the total project cost for the expansion, renovation and parking enhancements, as well as all related costs including technology, furnishings and furniture, would not exceed $18 million, with architectural and construction costs supported through a bond issue. This debt issue expense, estimated at approximately 1.5 mills, would sunset when the bond is repaid.

The experiences of other public libraries around the country clearly demonstrate that an expanded and improved library facility will result in increased library usage. We anticipate at least a 25 percent increase in user visits and circulation of library materials in the expanded and renovated library facility. This will be on top of already record level library usage in the current facility.

The Library Board believes that this project will provide many benefits to the community of Lawrence, including enhanced service to children, greater access to technology, more meeting room space to meet community demands, greater operational efficiency an improved energy efficiency( dollars saved).

The Lawrence Public Library Board of Trustees is:

Chris Burger, Chair Michael Machell, Vice-Chair Joan Golden, Secretary-Treasurer Fran Devlin Terry Leibold Kent Spreckelmeyer Deborah Thompson

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 5 months ago

Why do you hate old people and those on fixed incomes?

Steve Clark 7 years, 5 months ago

Fixed income? Whose income is not fixed?

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 5 months ago

Merrill is voting yes, so I must vote no to cancel out his vote!!!!!

justforfun 7 years, 5 months ago

For the love of god!!! Vote NO NO NO NONONONONONONONONONONO It just doesen't make sense!!!

kueddie 7 years, 5 months ago

voting no........seems every non-general election the city puts an item on the ballot that since few vote and the few that vote love spending someone else's money.

Broaden the cities tax base by allowing businesses to come to Lawrence and maybe this tax increase wouldn't be needed. It is my understanding Cracker Barrel wanted to build a restaurant at the east exit but the city refused due to the size of the sign required, same with Red Lobster..... So I am voting no, hell no......even putting a sign up to let the world know it

CLARKKENT 7 years, 5 months ago


somedude20 7 years, 5 months ago

"Construction costs are competitive and will most likely increase in the future."

That might be a fair statement but I could say that housing prices are low but I am not in a financial position to in order to afford it, much like the City of Lawrence can not afford the $18mill

"There are free computers for people looking for jobs" so does a place called the Lawrence Workforce building that is on Iowa St

"A “yes” vote is an investment in the long-term economic health of our community. We cannot permit an anemic economy to undermine our vision for the future."

I would offer that putting more money into projects that help people find paying jobs (like the Lawrence Workforce, you know for economic health) would back up your statement better than talking about a library

sNOw is coming...

kernal 7 years, 5 months ago

What kind of bond issue is this, anyhoo?

Jimo 7 years, 5 months ago

All great points.

Too bad they are applied to a lousy proposal. The question isn't whether it's a good time to borrow and construct but rather the quality of the proposal.

Go back to the drawing board and rethink things from scratch. You've jumped over better alternatives.

Gedanken 7 years, 5 months ago

You sound like my wife.

Her: "I saved you so much money. Everything I bought was on sale!!!!"
Me: "We already have some of the stuff you bought." Her: "That stuff is old. The deals were too good to pass up!!!" Me: "How much did you spend?" Her: "I don't know, maybe 2 - 3 hundred dollars." Me: "Then you sure in the heck didn't save me any money!"

notajayhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

"KU library, enter a co-use agreement with the city for residents to use this facility"

That worked out so well for the buses, after all.

thewayitis 7 years, 5 months ago

I do not understand why we can't get some of the federal stimulus money for this "shovel ready" project. 18 million is peanuts compared to the billions still out there for these types of projects. Before we ask the citizens to pay this wasteful spending let's see the paperwork where the feds turned us down. Also Judy, If you think that a local company with local subs will be contracted to build this structure I laugh.

notajayhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

"Will your car fly through the air on magical wings? Or will it ride on roads and streets paid for by taxpayers... including those on "fixed incomes?" Not everyone can afford a car--why should they pay for you to have a road to ride around on?"

Then again, those people that can't afford a car aren't likely to be paying much in taxes.

And BTW, there's no comparison. There is absolutely nobody who pays for the roads that doesn't benefit from them in some way. And the people that benefit from the most pay the most.

Steve Clark 7 years, 5 months ago

Ummm, there are "progressives" who work and pay their own way. They are "demanding" only of others what they expect of themselves. What's up with the name calling?

notajayhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

"Public libraries have been around for at least 150 years, in the United States."

We also had milkmen, diaper delivery services, elevator attendants, gas station attendants, pony express riders, stagecoach drivers. We had a lot more cobblers and blacksmiths (and tin smiths, and copper smiths, and silver smiths).

And record stores. Later replaced by CD's, but now you can just download a new song for a few pennies, directly into your computer, entertainment center, or phone. The same way you can download books.

There is virtually nothing you can get at the library you can't get from right where you're typing. For instance - did you actually buy today's Journal-World before reading it here? It probably won't be too much longer before the LJW goes the way of many other newspapers and stops issuing a print edition altogether.

Times change. Try to keep up.

"Similar dire predictions were made when cassettes got big... that cassettes and home audio recording would kill the music industry."

Bought any cassettes lately? Oh, that's right - they were killed off by CD's. Which are dying from downloadable content.

Cassettes didn't kill the music industry (although they didn't help the sales of vinyl any), in the same way that downloadable content won't kill off reading. It's the print medium that is nearing extinction.

"Someone who enjoys an author's first book might be compelled to outright purchase that author's second, third, and fourth books the day they are released."

Wasn't that the same logic employed by the defenders of Napster - that being able to downloaht get someone to go out and buy the entire CD? How'd that go?

no_thanks 7 years, 5 months ago

Check the trends: Electronic media outpaces books at Amazon.com. an Amazon Spokesman told us that “For the top 10 bestselling books on Amazon.com, customers are choosing Kindle books over hardcover and paperback books combined at a rate of greater than 2 to 1. Kindle books are also outselling print books for the top 25, 100, and 1,000 bestsellers–it’s across the board,”"This is remarkable when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover and paperback books for 15 years, and Kindle books for just 36 months.”(http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/amazon-ebooks-outselling-tangible-books-21/)

Subscriptions to newspapers and periodic magazines are clearly on the decline.

There are other ways to get DVD's (Netflix, Red Box, etc...).

I don't understand how anyone refutes these trends and thinks that an $18MM investment in the library is worthwhile. Give it a facelift, add technology, but that should be an expense they could take out of the $3 Million ithey receive currently.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 5 months ago

It is only a bargain if you can afford it. Lawrence can't afford it.

hail2oldku 7 years, 5 months ago

Bond rates may be favorable, but construction costs and materials are not any more reasonable than what they were before the recession.

Now is not the time to be raising taxes, even if it is just a cup of coffee a day. Some of us went from a cup a day to brewing our own to giving it up all together in order to make ends meet. Time for the city to do the same.


d_prowess 7 years, 5 months ago

While I don't agree with everything this writer says, I do see some of the value that a good public library offers. And I think a majority of the other "no" commenter do to. The problem is that the scope of the project is just too big and expensive. There seem to be a number of other alternatives that sound good and cheaper, but the Library folks don't seem to give any concrete examples of why they won't work. Instead they just say that they won't work. Maybe they truly won't work, but until I hear the actual facts/data that say why they won't, I can't support this project.

slowplay 7 years, 5 months ago

I use the Library frequently. The structure (interior and exterior) needs to be upgraded. Their technology resources also need an infusion. That said, when they added the parking structure to the proposal my vote became NO. At the very least they could have added an option without the parking facility. Very poor planning which sadly, is going to result in defeat.

Kathleen Schweitzberger 7 years, 5 months ago

Do people understand that you also need a lot of money to staff a branch or satellite library and also buy books for it? Look at other cities with branches. You don't just move the books out of the main library over to a branch. You buy branch copies. For current fiction, maybe not needed but I doubt the library currently buys many multiple copies of audio books, printed nonfiction, etc. And the Reference Collection will need to be duplicated in some areas.

On to using KU. As an academic librarian at another institution, I have a question for all the people with this idea. Are you aware that academic libraries collect little, if none, current fiction? Also they don't usually buy textbooks and that sort of material, so don't expect to see it there.

The only way that KU and LPL might work is if they formed a joint partnership similar to what the city of San Jose and San Jose State University did back in 1990s/2000s. But quess what else happened? A BRAND NEW BUILDING!!

One other observation: LPL has way too few computers for the public to use. Not every one has computers at home -- there is still a digital divide. And I know people who are actually cutting back on their broadband cable and instead using computers -- at the library. A friend of mine got out of Houston before Hurricane Rita hit in 2005 and came to stay with her elderly mother. Her mother has no computer access. She used the computers at LPL -- she was shocked by how few computers we have in comparison to her public library in League City, a suburb of Houston.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

An annex designed to house reference materials and provide meeting space would not require any more purchases - simply move the reference materials from the current location to the annex.

And it would not require checkout capability, or new staff.

Family_of_3 7 years, 5 months ago

Your statements in your opening paragraph are not necessarily correct. Many communities are creating "branch libraries" that serve the purpose of promoting book lending using cost-effective new technologies, including book lockers. See this Wall Street Journal article for examples:


Innovative solutions like those discussed in this article can leverage a single inventory of books as well as existing library staff, and then distribute the books to the lockers as orders are placed.

I guess it depends on what our objectives are. Is this proposed expansion truly about making books more available to folks? If so - why aren't we considering much less expensive alternatives? Do we REALLY need more meeting space? Where are the statistics to back this up? Why aren't we considering alternative meeting space proposals like those other commentators have made? I do understand the desire to have more computers. However, not at the price tag this proposal includes. Let's get creative and consider ideas that leverage existing space and existing resources. We can't keep spending money like it grows on trees.

d_prowess 7 years, 5 months ago

Just use the satellites for meetings and computers. That frees up room at the main library to handle the expansion of the children's area. There is no cost for duplicate books, just the remodeling costs and the costs for new computers, which would have been incurred anyway. I do think you would probably need to add a staff person or two to be located at these satellites, but operational expenses were included already.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Meeting space and reference would be even cheaper - no need to set up a new space for computer use.

Just move the reference materials.

And, existing staff can just staff the reference section at the new location.

whats_going_on 7 years, 5 months ago

ok, fine, we need new computers...but do those computers cost 18 million dollars? I don't think so. Get more computers if needed, put them in a satellite location or move things around in the library to accommodate.

Gedanken 7 years, 5 months ago

I believe you are wrong on your assessment of computers. Don't compare apples to oranges. We are not a suburb of any major city.

That being said - I can speak from experience. I have been a administrator for public computer labs. I know how much it costs to maintain software and hardware over the long run. The goal of 150+ computers at the library is beyond ridiculous. It will cost a small fortune! They claim it is because they don't meet the standards set forth by their accreditation association.

That part is true. Here is the lie. The lie is that if you ask them - no one can point to a document from a reputable technology association that details how many computers is recommended for a given community based on its population and census details. The number of 150 computers was essentially pulled out of thin air.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

What is the accreditation and is it necessary?

Family_of_3 7 years, 5 months ago

There are better, cheaper alternatives. This proposition is fiscally irresponsible and I will not support it.

50YearResident 7 years, 5 months ago

I bet all the yes voters are 'NOT' property owners. Property owners, the ones that will pay for this, will vote 'NO' because it is not affordable with the down economy we are in. When it is not out of the pocket of the yes voters, it is like something free for them. Stick the property owners with the bill, is an attitude that we can not afford.

whats_going_on 7 years, 5 months ago

nope, actually a lot of the yes voters ARE home owners unfortunately. Yesterday over in west lawrence I saw like a gazillion "yes" signs. :\

Emily Campbell 7 years, 5 months ago

I love the idea of moving the library over to Riverfront Mall! Why can't they look into that more?!!

Steve Clark 7 years, 5 months ago

It was looked into. It was one of the original proposals that was rejected in 2006.

notajayhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

"The current economy is a good reason to vote “yes” for the library."

Roughly the same logic as saying when the stores were having clearance sales on the analog-only TV's that were about to become obsolete, it was a good time to buy one.

beatrice 7 years, 5 months ago

They should cut taxes. That will pay for the library, won't it?

beatrice 7 years, 5 months ago

They are already wealthy, so what is stopping them now? Your belief that the rich will care for you is pretty sad.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

That is the mindset that leads to the "protect the rich" policies.

There's something sort of childlike about it, as if they are the parents, doling out their favors.

Don't you think that an employer/employee relationship is more rightly understood as a mutually beneficial one?

pinecreek 7 years, 5 months ago

Already vote No in our household. Sorry, not in this economy and not with this plan.

David Crawford 7 years, 5 months ago

to the LJW, your paper is running a very good size and most likely very expensive advertisement paid for by the group Americans for Prosperity/Koch brothers AGAINST the public library re-hab project. The LJW should be ashamed! 1. the Koch brothers supposedly live in Wichita which is not even close to Lawrence. 2. they probably don't even live in Wichita. 3. the Lawrence pub library is a LOCAL issue why are you enabling this national astroturf group..?

My opinion of the LJW is turning sour very quickly. David Crawford concerned citizen for Lawrence Kansas

d_prowess 7 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps the West Lawrence voters would vote no if they knew that an alternative would be to have a satellite library location on their side of town!

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 5 months ago

This project has an odor to it.

The more you look at the negatives, the more skeptical you become regarding the so called benefits.

The computers are going to be wasted money and they are going to be obsolete very soon. How many new computers will we be seeing to replace the old computers in 20 years time when we are supposedly going to have it paid for. I suggest there will be extra costs before it is built and plenty more before the first $18M is paid for.

The alternative location issue has not been addressed adequately other than to say, "the experts have studied it and determined that this is the best location." How many times have we heard that one? You think we would have learned not to listen to "experts."

The timing of the expenditure is bazaar but it is interesting that they don't mind spending our money to get what they think is a good deal even though we have barely enough to get by most of the time.

Property tax in this city just continues to rise. How bad does the economy have to get before it is too bad for these folks to spend our money? I guess if it was worse, they would say it is an even better time to invest $18 million in something we don't need right now.

There must be some kind of mental disease that invaded the country after the last election starting with the TORP and then the Bailouts. People think you can create money simply by spending it.

Reminds me of the early Hawaiian peoples described by James Michener in his book, "Hawaii". They believed the way to cure any disease was to eat more food and thus they were quite large and obese.

Andrea Hoag 7 years, 5 months ago

UNDERSTAND that 70% of the adults in this town carry a library card around in their wallets. That is A LOT of people to serve on the meager budget the library scrapes by on now. These smart patrons are saving hundreds, or in my case, thousands of dollars every year by utilizing the computers, books, music, DVDs, newspapers and magazines at the Lawrence Public Library. Want to know how much you are (or could be) saving per year by using the library? Use this simple calculator: http://bit.ly/7iXGM. You will be amazed.


David Roberts 7 years, 5 months ago


I asked questions of another supporter of the library, but didn't get any response. So now I'll ask you to kindly respond and I'll reconsider my vote.

You say: The current economy is a good reason to vote “yes” for the library. Construction costs are competitive and will most likely increase in the future.

Yet this cannot be known. True, construction costs are down, but what is to say that they won't drop even further in the next year or two? Why must they only go up after we spend 18 million dollars? Perhaps in one year, this same project could be completed for 14 million. What would you say then? How would you justify the waste? You cannot rely on this as a reason to vote for the project.

You say: It is much less expensive than the original plans.

Good, but a white elephant it remains. There have been many proposals that cost less, but they have not been given due consideration. Why not?

You say: "The ongoing economic correction increases demand for information about the emerging economy. Increased public access to information will stimulate future economic growth in the community...There are free computers for people looking for jobs, free guidance for student research projects, free books for curious minds.."

How long will this tax take to pay off? Will it take longer than the computers that will be obsolete in 3-5 years--then need to be replaced. I value computers and their place in our technologically sophisticated society, but we should not use bond issues or permanent taxes to pay for them. I support public access to computers, but--and I've asked this question many times on this forum--what percentage of computer use is as you describe so romantically in your letter? Are most users really looking for jobs, are they really studying and learning? And why should I be forced to pay for the recreational computer use of others?

You say: "A 'yes' vote is an investment in the long-term economic health of our community. We cannot permit an anemic economy to undermine our vision for the future. I’m voting “yes” for the library because it is the very essence of our town, as essential to our quality of life as an outstanding community hospital and a diverse park system."

That's not what this proposal is about.
A yes vote is a vote for building expensive meeting space in a town with vacant store fronts. A yes vote is a vote for a parking garage that will cost over $50,000 for each additional parking space.
A yes vote is a vote for an expensive facelift, a new facade that does not reflect our downtown, nor will it draw people there.

I want to vote yes, but I can't support a library proposal that does not spend a cent on the substance--the content--of the library, and lays waste to future opportunities to have the library I think we all want. I will say "no" for now, until convinced otherwise.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 5 months ago

Too late Judy; my "NO" vote has already been cast.

This is exactly why I did advance voting...I didn't want to take any chance on not getting to the polls to place my emphatic "NO" vote for financial responsibility.

If the tax burden could fall equally on you and the trustees only; I'd be all in favor! Put some fountains in....put in more marble and granite! How about a glass dome on the roof?? Buy laptops that can be checked-out, as well as video game systems, iPads and Kindles!

BigPrune 7 years, 5 months ago

The library is going to have marble walls and floors? No wonder it is costing $900 per square foot for its addition. I know, I know......the parking garage needs to be included for the big Fritzel project. So minus the $4,000,000 Fritzel "corporate welfare" garage, the 20,000 square foot addition will only cost $700 per square foot. A 1500 square foot house would cost $1,050,000 - i wonder how that would appraise?

Let the downtown merchants pay for these pet projects of the millionaire's wives club.

Deb Engstrom 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm voting "yes" because I believe a centralized library is vital to a strong community.

David Roberts 7 years, 5 months ago

How is the library strengthened by this proposal? What if I told you that this proposal weakens the library over the long term because it invests money unwisely and reduces the chance that future needs will be met? How willing will we be to fund real priorities in a year or two that aren't addressed in this proposal? A "yes" vote locks us in to a bad deal. Wait for the right proposal, then vote "yes".

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

We already have a centralized library.

Nobody's suggested eliminating it, as far as I know.

irvan moore 7 years, 5 months ago

it's not a library parking garage, it's a city parking garage, downtown Lawrence slipping it in with the library because they know it wouldn't pass on it's own.

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