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Do you think $30 million is too much for the city to spend on a new library?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 23, 2006

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Photo of Laura Good

“That sounds a little high given that we already have many university libraries that are available to a large portion of our community.”

Photo of Dylan Guthrie

“It is too much. The library we already have is completely fine. There are a lot of ways we could use that money.”

Photo of Molly Crook

“I don’t think it’s too much. I think anything that goes toward community education should be a priority for our city.”

Photo of Walter Pearson

“You can never spend too much on libraries. The more the people know, the better the democracy is.”

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Richard Heckler 11 years, 9 months ago

I say go for it. Obviously it's a project that will be done. The price will only increase with time. Go with a new building at 9th and New Hampshire rather than retrofit the old. Sell the old downtown building and of course put that money into the new library. Don't give that piece of real estate away. Libraries are a practical expenditure of funds.

grubesteak 11 years, 9 months ago

I love going to the library, but Lawrence doesn't even compare to others in the area for a city this size. This project is way overdue.

Yes, spend the money. It's a small price to pay for all those who will benefit from it.

KsTwister 11 years, 9 months ago

Raising taxes to pay for this must be on a ballot (by itself),this city is overtaxed as it is. By the time we are taxed for new parks,sewer treatment and infrastructure repairs,streets and roundabouts it may well be that fewer people will live here to ever use it. City Hall needs to collapse like everything around it.

neopolss 11 years, 9 months ago

Potholes and sewer lines. Let's work on that Lawrence. I'd love a new library, but this city's infrastructure is among the worst I've seen. For the price of ONE roundabout, we could have fixed multiple issues in and around the community. That to me is worth waiting at a traffic light or four-way stop. And the SLT? For crying out loud, go further south and avoid the freaking wetlands, and you'll have zero opposition. Why must the city be so stubborn on where it is built?

beatrice 11 years, 9 months ago

bowhunter: "... BE FISCALLY responsible and stop spending money you don't have which means higher taxes for everyone." Wouldn't you just love to hear President Bush make such a statement!

30 million seems too expensive to me. There should be less expensive alternatives.

southerngirl 11 years, 9 months ago

LOL derf...

Obviously I no longer live/work in Lawrence so I can't spend your tax dollars, but the library you have is a wonderful resource. The librarians do so much in the way of community outreach and are resourceful in using the facility that they have. There is a definate need for updating the current resources and structure. I think 30 million is a bit high, but I also think the library it a terrific investment in Lawrence's future.

lunacydetector 11 years, 9 months ago

why don't they put the library on the internet, then we wouldn't need a new $30 million building?

are there really THAT many people who use the library? the KU libraries can be used by lawrencians already. why not spend very little promoting that idea instead of spending so much money for a library that caters only to the downtown populace - paid for by people who live in west lawrence?

optimist 11 years, 9 months ago

This is a boondoggle. I for the life of me can't see how they can find enough ways to spend $30,000,000 on a public library. I'm not opposed to building a new library but I can't believe it couldn't be done for less than half that cost.

This city commission has proven to be very innovative. They have found creative ways to stifle the tax base by discouraging business growth and investment (i.e. "living wage", restrictive tax abatement policy, the 6th/Wak development and policies to restrict growth). It's fair to say they've also shown real creativity in blowing money (i.e. roundabouts, legal fees for fighting WalMart, and now this library).

$30 million dollars; really!?

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

I think the city infrastructure should be a higher priority, but like southerngirl I don't live there any more so it's not my money.

The library isn't just a book repository, it's a community resource and they do a lot of meetings and gatherings and so forth.

I think the updates to the library are a good idea, but I'm a little skeptical that they need 30 million bucks worth of updates.

christie 11 years, 9 months ago

Yes Yes Yes. But Please, make it worthy.

Oh, and by the way, I'll do it for $29,000,000.

That is a FIRM offer.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

Didn't we already hash this topic? Or has it just come down to money? I'm still for branch libraries. Take the books to the people. Sure, do some upgrades on the existing library, but you can build a lot for $30 mil and I'm in favor of spreading it out.

Marion, If you expand the current library to the south, where will you park? There is too little parking now having that lot shared with the senior citizen building and the city pool in the summer.

armyguy 11 years, 9 months ago

Lawrence has the largest library system in the state, and one of the argest in the country. They are open to everyone as they are state funded. It is called the KU library system. While some at KU tend to think that it is only for students, any state funded libaray is open to the public. I had to remind sombody at the law library of that not too long ago.

Take to 30 mil and fix some pot holes or sidewalks, or better yet, I think the city could build a few more roundabouts.

Reader 11 years, 9 months ago

Oh, Please! sunflower_sue! Where Does Anyone Park, When They Venture Into The "Downtown" Domain? As For A "30 Million" Dollar Library? Just Another Pretty Flower, In The Middle Of A Already Over Priced Weed Garden!

libraffe 11 years, 9 months ago

I doubt that many of the people reading and responding to this post have a clear idea what the appropriate dollar amount would be. It's fun to get an 8th graders opinion, but doesn't it seem obvious that he/she is going to think $30 million is too much to spend on anything? Lawrence is the progressive independent thinker's oasis in Kansas. Doesn't it make sense that the library should reflect that prioritization of information and education? Public libraries are at the heart of a community. Visit the Topeka Library any day of the week and at any time. Just look around at who is using the facility and what they are doing. All ages and classes and races. Topeka is a town with its fair share of problems (:crime, Phelps:), but the people who live in that community can and should feel incredibly proud of that library.

The popularity of the Internet has done nothing to diminish the need for and the use of public libraries. People need "third places" actual physical places where they can come together for meetings, for study groups, and for community. If you have kids, won't you want to take them to storytime? Don't you want people who cannot afford to buy their own books or who cannot afford to have a home computer to have opportunities, which can actually help empower them and maybe even help them better their economic situation? Are there any other institutions in our society that serve this bipartisan role in our supposedly democratic society? For a town that values education and informed thinking as highly as Lawrence does, the library should be beautiful, innovative, and a source of community pride. Let's support this project get involved with it it's OUR library that is being built after all.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 9 months ago

Reader, Oh pleeaase! Are you suggesting that we just do away with parking? Silly me to be thinking of a place to park when I live 10 miles away!

Libraffe, an 8th grader would just shell out the money and not give proper thought to whether or not he/she was getting a good deal. You seem to be with those who believe: "live within your means, even if you have to borrow to do so!"

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

Libraffe, people can recognize the value of a community resource and still want the decisions to be made in a fiscally responsible manner.

I think a town needs libraries, art, and green spaces to be a viable community. However, I think that before it can make those things a priority, it needs functioning roads, economic stability, a strong and effective social welfare program (truly temporary assistance that helps people get successful instead of just fed), adequate and skilled law enforcement, and well-maintained schools to be more than a brilliant and glorious moment in history, when a community based in intellectual enlightenment and social consciousness flared briefly and then collapsed under the weight of its mundane and uncollected garbage.

Thus, some of us are going to say, "Culture and enlightenment are all well and good, but if you can't get to the library because the streets around it are closed, how useful is it, really, as a community resource?"

mskeys 11 years, 9 months ago

has anyone suggested having the books and magazines downtown and opening several computer and media sites in various other locations? It seems that the current building could house more books and( ebooks) if the space devoted to computer terminals and meeting rooms was moved elsewhere.. Also the kids doing homework might like to have places in other neighborhoods. Another idea would be to build a new senior center( somewhere else) more adapted to its use and have the library take over that site. Their building is not designed for them.

think outside the BOX!

Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

OMG - fix the darn sewers and streets first!!! Or else when I have a basement full of surprises and undigested vitamins, I can now either go to the park or the library. But who will do my laundry???

beatrice 11 years, 9 months ago

Like others, I no longer live in Lawrence, so I hope you don't mind my commenting on this, or using up the bandwidth. Last I heard, there are around 80,000 permanent residents in Lawrence, correct? That makes the proposed sum, according to my handy calculator, $375 per person. If one in three actually use the library, and I doubt that the number is that high, that places the cost per user at more than $1000 each. Those numbers are too high, in my humble opinion.

cutny 11 years, 9 months ago

Build it.

The cost is not that high, and it's not going to come down.

Private property taxes have gone up faster than any other tax in the last 20 years and at a rate at least double that of commercial property taxes. It's not going to stop, so the community might as well get as much as we can out of the system, since the system is clearly getting as much as they can out of the citizen.

As for the argument that it's going to cost $1000 if 1 out of 3 citizens use the library, I've kind of had it with that line of reasoning. I don't have kids, but a significant chunk of my property taxes fund the public schools system. So what? You want to live in Utopia? Go build it.

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

$30 MILLION dollars for a building?????

F**k this, I'm moving. I'm sick of Lawrence and its "hip"-ocrisy" ....

Fix the damn ROADS!!!!!!

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

And another thing ... think about what kind of MANSION you could build for $30 million .. yeah!!!

Then you'll understand why us taxpayers are so upset with government waste of OUR money.

Aiko 11 years, 9 months ago

Comparing a mansion to a large public library is like comparing a dog whistle to a douche bag!

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

Or better still ... why not combine with the KU library!

southerngirl 11 years, 9 months ago

Wellsville built a Preschool-5th grade elementary building for 8 million just five years ago. That's 17 classrooms, a gym and cafeteria (separate rooms) library, offices, resource classrooms, computer lab (with some new computers) classrooms also each got a few new computers, furnishings and lots of parking on all sides of the school. Granted, they already had the land purchased, but even if you double or even triple the cost it still isn't 30 million. I think it could be done well for less than 30 million. That leaves several million for Centrists "damn roads".

avhjmlk 11 years, 9 months ago

Remember, though, that building costs in smaller towns are a LOT different.

ms_canada 11 years, 9 months ago

Being a foreigner, would I be allowed to comment on this. It is true that libraries were discussed a while ago on this board, as someone has already mentioned. At that time I described our library system. Granted. my city is 1 1/2 million strong, but I think the smae system on a smaller scale could apply in Lawrence. We have a very large Main Library in the heart of downtown and many branch libraries all over the city. I am a reader and I am frequently at my branch lib. It is always busy, busy, busy. Many young people on the computers, mom's with little ones in tow with large stacks of books in their little arms. We have CD's and DVD's to rent. There are story times for the little ones. In short a good library with easy accessability can be a great center for learning.
The young people that make use of my branch would probably never go downtown. That branch is about 10 min. from my home. About a two minute drive from my home is a small branch in the shopping mall. Not many books there but you can always order one brought over from a larger branch in a couple of days. My kids and grandkids are also readers In my opinion libraries are something we should never skimp on.
But 30 mil does seem a lot. Your city council should look deeper into better ways to invest in your cities education through libraries. You need more than one. That is my 4 cents (inflation) TOB, please, we are waiting with baited breath for news of little bobbie or bobette.

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

I've always wondered what would happen if every few years, citizens voted on what they want their budget priorities to be. In more local government, the list could be, "Transportation (including roads and public transportation), the environment (including restriction enforcement, conservation, and parks), law enforcement, schools, social welfare programs, economic growth and planning." Federal government could take away 'law enforcement' and replace it with 'security' to include defense, add foreign aid and balancing the budget, and change 'economic growth and planning' to 'improving trade conditions.'

Then, those programs not in the top few (3, 5, whatever) would get maintenance budgets, enough to keep the lights on but not upgrade or overhaul, and the upgrades and additional special funding would go to the popularly chosen budget priorities.

It would either be the coolest system ever, or total collapse within ten years, and I can't decide which intrigues me more.

ms_canada 11 years, 9 months ago

I am embarrassed, that should read waiting with bated breath.

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

I thought your comment seemed a little fishy.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 9 months ago

I'm a little new to the group. I believe that the $30 million the city could spend on a library would be a waste of time. Of course, this is nothing new for a city that pays for pointless research groups and ridiculous roundabouts that nobody knows how to use.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 9 months ago

One more thing. I know this is a little off-topic, but I saw a plumbing van with the stupidest saying on it. It said, "saving lives through plumbing". What?? Do their conversations go something like this:

Customer: "Oh, thank you, Mr. Plumber! You saved my life!"

Plumber: "You are certainly welcome, ma'am."

Customer: "I thought I would just die of constipation if I didn't get that toilet fixed."

beatrice 11 years, 9 months ago

ms_c: "baited breath," is that the same as fish breath, just in smaller bites? :)

macon: "There are a lot of people in Lawrence that get up everyday , go To work come home, raise a family, and don't have all the lay about time the liberals do to enjoy the amenities booger and rundle want to provide them for FREE!"

Liberals just lay about, do we? Wish I'd known -- I would have taken the day off WORK! I could have stayed in my house, on which I pay TAXES! Then I would be more relaxed and not have to shout at the end of my SENTENCES! (Geez, the lengths some people will go to blame liberals for all things they don't like in this world. Don't blame the liberals, blame THE MAN!)

cutny 11 years, 9 months ago

Macon "could someone get some get some commissioners who want to run the city like a business?"

Guess what genius, that's the "job" of any community's citizens. Oh wait, let me guesss, you didn't vote because you a. were busy that day b. didn't like any of 'em c. consider your measly vote a waste of everybody's time d. would rather complain

pelliott 11 years, 9 months ago

Access to clean water could save millions of people and does daily. Good plumbing is essential to both private and public health. I hate spending money but library looks a better buy for this town than soccer fields, an ineffective, sexist and classist chamber of commerce and little flags that proclaim nothing. The figures seem to high but I was born in 48 and bought gas for 22 cents. I appreciate the honesty and thoughtfullness of Mr. Rundle and Mr. Highberger. The random nasty remarks make the point that hate rather than thought is the horse some people prefer to ride.

Kookamooka 11 years, 9 months ago

Use the Riverfront mall as the main, adult library with technology as a focus, Make the old Carnegie Library a new children's library with programming and security the focus, AND make the old masonic lodge the home for the Americana Music Academy. With the addition of more family friendly venues in Downtown, Lawrence could become a thriving tourist destination. pay for the library project...issue tax-free municipal bonds for old people to invest in. (more and more people will be looking for interest on their investment as the baby boomers retire!)

Kookamooka 11 years, 9 months ago

I imagine those improvements would amount to less than 30 million dollars. We just need to be more creative. I'd spend the money on attracting the best employees to run these establishments and less on the buildings. Especially when interesting buildings already exist.

Tony Kisner 11 years, 9 months ago

Put a measure for a sales tax increase on the ballot for funding. Anyone wanting to pay more for organic carrots at the Merc, will see the correlation of new library = expensive carrots. Not new library = increase mill levy on a tax bill that comes in the mail if I want it to or not. Need meeting rooms, I think the old library is sitting empty, the old Mason hall is sitting empty. KU has space all over.

wheremyshoes 11 years, 9 months ago

What kind of bookmobile can we get for $30M?

beatrice 11 years, 9 months ago

I'm sticking with bobling for a boy, and bobble for a girl. Can't you just picture an adorable little bobble, or a little bobling - The Duplicate Bob. (Okay, neither can I really, but I'm sure he or she will be cute.)

For $30 mill, I'll bet you could get a bookmobile that reads to you as you sit comfortably in a massage chair.

pelliott: "The random nasty remarks make the point that hate rather than thought is the horse some people prefer to ride." Well said, pardner. There is wisdom in them thar words.

avhjmlk 11 years, 9 months ago

Ich weiss nicht. Und Originaler Bob gibt uns keine Hilfe.

slpearson 11 years, 9 months ago

Like a few others who posted comments, I no longer live in Lawrence (born & raised there until age of 23), but I agree with Sunflower Sue about how branches are needed. When I last visited Lawrence in 2003, I was surprised to see how much Lawrence is GROWING, and branches are GREAT, here in the Phoenix, AZ, area. I believe that they're not just for metropolitan areas like this.

However, I disagree with the suggestions regarding the public's ability to use the KU libraries. I was no moron, and I attended KU for 3 years, but having worked at the LPL for several years, and trying to use the KU libraries, I always felt like the KU libraries were foreign countries. Imagine how others feel, when they don't want to drive & park on the university campus...And aren't familiar with the differences.

I pray that y'all continue to have real dialogue and committees formed for your suggestions and solutions. Growth can be tough, I know (it's getting too crowded here in Phoenix, so hubby and I hope to move out, soon)...So maintaining the important resources, like libraries and schools, are #1 priorities!

avhjmlk 11 years, 9 months ago

I remember the first time I tried to use Watkins library when I was in high school. It was certainly not very public friendly. I agree with all of the reasons slpearson stated. In addition, it's not very handicapped-friendly, there are no kids books, and it's already crowded with university students. At least the public areas are.

breeze 11 years, 9 months ago

So you think everybody wants or can go to the KU libraries, thus making LPL unnecessary? Good luck finding appropriate material for children's research or recreational reading. Good luck finding parking anywhere near where you need to go. Booktalks and bookvan visits for children in the city's summer parks programs and senior citizens all year long--yeah KU will do that. Ha! Public and academic libraries have different missions and different sources of funding, that's just how it is.

Many, many KU students do their research at LPL because they don't want to use the campus libraries. Also, the KU libraries are not managed very well and are in danger of becoming ineffective even for their own community.

The fact is, Lawrence PL needs a new, larger building to last for the decades ahead. For all the pride Lawrence takes in being progressive and superior to the rest of Kansas, put that talk into action and do it.

avhjmlk 11 years, 9 months ago

Bobling, oh Bobling! Wherefore are though, oh Bobling?

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 9 months ago

Pelliot: You read an awful lot like Marion. Hmm...

beatrice 11 years, 9 months ago

ottr: but you should have seen the plans before they made all the cutbacks!

Richard Heckler 11 years, 9 months ago

Where: 9th and New Hampshire Why: *It's practical and we know the library will not sit idle. It will be busy as always.

*Ideal companion to the arts center

*Coffee shops and a cafe or two nearby. Don't need these in the library as like Topeka.

*Avoids relocating fire department and senior center expense

*Avoids cost of rent to move library during construction

*Retrofit at current location may not be the best bang for the buck. Retrofitting takes time which means more dollars. Retrofitting is hard work.

*Retrofit likely would not save on cost of construction according to consultants.

*Expanding 9th and New Hampshire parking garage provides enough parking for art center and library plus street parking is available. Other sparsely used lots are also nearby.

*Primary public transportation hub at 9th & New Hampshire

*Two or three story building would blend well with existing new structures

*Would be convenient for parents/children needing a place to go during class or rehearsal breaks

*Sell the library to aid in financing new construction:

Perhaps some of existing one cent sales tax money could be applied to this project. Some things will need to sit on the back burner. There seems some implied rush on that long list. Rome was not built in a day. Patience over a new tax.

Street repairs are scheduled annually so sooner or later matters will be resolved. The location/schedule of repairs may need adjusting. Don't repair streets that are not in dire straights. Is there reason to panic over street conditions...probaly not. Schedule repairs accordingly with annual schedlules. Some new streets may have to wait.

This is not a new idea by any means as it's been on the table for awhile.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 9 months ago

I wonder how long it will be before we have some news about The_Newest_Bob....

Jay_Z 11 years, 9 months ago

$30 million for a f'ing library?! Put the bong down Boog--fix the damn infrastructure first.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

Hey - do we have a Bob-ie doll yet or what?

libraffe 11 years, 9 months ago

If I ran the library, I would have a section with instructional information about how-to use roundabouts and would have driving experts offer classes on the topic, too.

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