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Guest Opinion: Library efficiency is improved, but we truly need better buildings

Original post made on Sep 2, 2008

Is it good policy to continue to maintain five libraries in Palo Alto? The recent decision by the City Council to place a library-construction bond measure on the Nov. 4 ballot has refocused discussion on this longstanding issue in our community.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 3, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (119)

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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2008 at 5:08 pm

"last year's audit report clearly stated that Palo Alto's library facilities are in poor condition."

Last year's audit report also clearly states that Palo Alto spends twice as much per capita as neighboring cities on its libraries yet the neighboring cities provide better services than Palo Alto. Digging deeper, the report also notes that Palo Alto has 104 employees just to run the libraries - 104!!!!

Perhaps you could *try* to provide a balanced view in your opinion piece. You know, provide people with information rather than spin.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 2, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Dear Here We Go Again,

Your facts as you present them are just plain wrong.

Site your facts,the source of them, specifically sited, and then provide your point of view.

I have no problem with people taking a negative point of view about this initiative, I do have a problem with people playing fast and loose with facts.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

My offer still stands - I will design the air conditioning systems for the libraries for free if the city will pay the cost out of one of their travel funds or their artist stipends or another of their silly crusades. This will include the electrical service upgrades needed.


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Posted by Not so old
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 2, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Walter, your engineering license expired long ago.


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Posted by Ray Bacchetti
a resident of University South
on Sep 2, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Diane Jennings has written a piece that points out how good civil servants think--wanting to merge their professional expertise with the political judgments of the community. We have a community that's always coming up with good ideas, especially when it comes to children and young people, and the libraries are often implicated in them. We stand on the verge of impoverishing our libraries--not in terms of their operating budget for doing next year what was done last year, but in the sense of having no flexibility to respond to ideas. And even the operating budget may have to make way for duct tape and baling wire if we let the physical plant simply wear out.


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Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2008 at 6:07 am

I will no on the bond for two reasons:

1) We do not need 5 branches. We need one central library

2) The lead spokesperson for the bond (the one whose name will appear first on the ballot argument in favor of the library bond) is ethically challenged, based on his actions during the recent PACT scandal. I do not trust him based on his past actions so I cannot trust him to convince me to vote for the bond.


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Posted by Megan Fogarty
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2008 at 6:38 am

Great editorial once again giving the history and facts. Here is why I support Measure N -

- Palo Alto'sBaby Boomers have said they plan to age in place - We need high quality flexible neighborhood spaces for delivery of community services, disaster services and programming for all ages. The improvements promise new space at each site.
- 92% of Palo Altans use the library -- Is there any other facility used by 92% of residents? Just last night a friend was telling me that the library has become her home away from home as she pursues an advanced degree. The facility improvements ensure space for quiet study, programming, and children/youth areas! Measures of Library use continue to grow including circulation that is up 45% in the last 7 years. I imagine that better facilities will also increase property values.
- Palo Alto ranks dead last out of 10 local libraries surveyed by the City Auditor. 50 years ago we passed a bond to build Main and Mitchell. Now we need to pass another one to insure libraries fitting of our community!
- 2,500 visitors on average visit PA Libraries EACH DAY. Mitchell Park -- the one that is most used and in the worst shape gets nearly 1,000 visitors EVERY DAY!
- Better libraries will improve property values -- the proposed New Mitchell Park Library will be a phenomenal civic gateway to our community.
- The average household cost will be $28.74 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Around $100 for the average house in Palo Alto. I figure by checking out books each year I save 100s of dollars in my budget -- this seems like a great deal.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2008 at 8:56 am

Most of the arguments for 5 branches are really arguments for a good central library with checkout/dropout desk at a community center manned by clerks not fully fledged librarians. A really good library (or perhaps two) could then operate at Mitchell Park and Main, with the other branches reduced to places where the community could meet with perhaps a coffee shop and internet facilities. These centers do not need to be fully fledged libraries with full library support, stocked shelves and all the trimmings.

We are crucifying ourselves by aiming to reach the sky in the level of service we are expecting at Dowtown and CT. These facilities can meet the current needs of the residents without being classed as fully functioning libraries. The libraries of the 21st century are very different from the victorian ideal of reading rooms and book checking out facilities. They should not be sold off by any means as their function can and should be amended to suit the needs of the local residents. But, by trying to keep all our libraries up to date in service and not improving our central library to keep ahead of our neighboring cities, we are doing ourselves a great disservice.

In our home we recently had the need to use a scanner. We called all the libraries, even Mountain View and Los Altos couldn't help us. These are becoming an integral need and our libraries could have them and be really wonderful resources. Instead, we are aiming to keep on with the same old same old without trying new innovations. By having some great foresight, we could actually become the new vision for libraries in silicon valley, instead of trying to repeat an updating of worn out ideals.


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Posted by Kathy Miller
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

What a great, balanced editorial by our Library Director!

I support Measure N wholeheartedly. The project has been developed with full community participation over many years, and it's absolutely the right project for this community.

Moreover, the alternative is simply not acceptable, and would be a disservice to this community. If this measure doesn't pass, there will be no other measure for many years to come. That's because if this eminently reasonable and well-developed plan doesn't succeed, there's no reason to expect that a different option would.

So here's what we'd have: Sub-par libraries for the foreseeable future; A patch job on Mitchell Park Library that would reduce the size of the collection (because the initiation of renovations would bring the ADA into play, requiring wider aisles and hence allowing less room for books); Further deterioration of Main Library's poor lighting situation--which is the result of a gradual loss of luminosity in the ceiling panels; and the inability to respond to changes in technology that can improve library service dramatically.

Perhaps worst of all, the library would be unable to address its biggest problem: the inadequacies of the collection. Without more space, there can be no more books.

So let's be smart and pass Measure N!


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Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:15 am

Well, Kathy, that is one of the mistakes of this bond measure--making it all or nothing choice based on the ancient 5 branch concept. You point out the unacceptable alternative--but we were never given a real alternative--a single branch. we should had a choice at the ballot box between those two alternatives--trust me there is a way to do that.
I plan to vote against the bond and hope that enough of us do to stymie this bad bond.


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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:25 am

Paul,

It's this sort of response that makes this debate so farcical. Have you seen the audit that is being quoted: Web Link

You take the original posters results at face value but anything negative in the same report is now "just plain wrong". Try reading the actual audit before having other people make up your mind for you.

Page 16:
Exhibit 7: Library Spending Per Capita FY 2005-06
Palo Alto $97.01
Santa Clara $57.70
Mountain View $55.19
Menlo Park $61.68
Sunnyvale $49.97


Page 39:
Exhibit 28: Number of Library Employees
Total Employees:
Administration: 4
Collection and Technical Services: 15
Main Library: 30
MItchell Park Library: 24
Children's Library: 19
Downtown Library: 6
College Terrrace Libray: 6
TOTAL: 104!!!!

Why didn't they mention these figures when doing the purported survey showing Palo Altans in favor of the libraries? Note: the Weekly has already descibed as deeply flawed.

The most recent survey for the bond measure showed that most Palo Altan's consider having only one or two libraries a convincing argument.


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Posted by Logic Error
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:32 am

Diane's errs, I think, when she writes that the cost of maintaining the branch facilities should not be considered, since we would have those costs even if the buildings were put to another use. True - but if we use those buildings for small library branches, then we need ANOTHER space for those other activities. And that means incremental facility costs.

So, yes, the facility costs DO need to be considered when we think of the cost of keeping the branches; there is no free lunch. Diane, could you please tell us what those facility maintenance costs are?


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Posted by Thanks HWGA
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

Thanks HWGA for supplying the facts. Maybe Paul will apologize for his rant. Paul?

I agree - the spin keeps coming, and it is a shame to see Diane Jennings, a good and sincere civil servant, spinning so hard in this editorial. All the stops have been pulled out for this campaign.

I sincerely hope the bond goes down and we finally face up to simple rationalization of our system. PA seems hopelessly caught up in its old fashioned ways.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:23 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by non-prop 13er
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 12:10 pm

"- The average household cost will be $28.74 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Around $100 for the average house in Palo Alto. I figure by checking out books each year I save 100s of dollars in my budget -- this seems like a great deal."

You must have bought your property a long time ago. If you bought a property in Palo Alto over the last 8 years, you're going to be paying around $450 PER YEAR for this bond.

You would need to check out around $700 a year in books for any truth to be in your statement.

Lot's of spin so far from the pro-bond lobby, few facts.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:26 pm

The spending per capita in Palo Alto is not twice what it is in other cities, according to the Auditor's report. That is what I disputed. I don't question the numbers cited, but that "twice as much per capita" assertion is not borne out by the facts. People tend to lock in on such simplifications, and they should be positioned accurately if they are to be invoked.

The 104 employees was not part of why I took issue with the earlier posting. That is the number of people who work in our library system because that is how many people are needed to service the community's demands and circulation. To be "shocked" at the number--if that is what it takes to run the system, that is what it takes. And, this is largely driven by circulation and patronage, irregardless of how many branches are in operation.

I do have a question for those who continue to advocate a single branch, which was considered and turned several years ago. Where would a building of the size a single library implies go in Palo Alto?


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Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Paul--where the Mitchell Library currently stands is one area. How about 195 Page Mill Road as another suggestion?
It is a joke that a city the size of PA maintains FIVE library branches--a waste of money and resources. Yes, I know , polls say that people want the branches--I am sure if you ask people about branches and do not figure in cost into the question, people will say yes to 20 branches.


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Posted by two branches too many
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Does anyone know how many employees are at the Los Altos main library? Circulation & patronage numbers? I'd be willing to bet their employee-to-patronage ratio is more favorable than ours.

Paul, how about a compromise and we just close two branches - Downtown and College Terrace?


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Posted by Paul, a shame
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Gosh Paul, I expected better. The poster said the per capita library spend is 2x other towns; in fact, it is 1.73x the average and 1.94x the lowest. That seems plenty close enough for me. For you to call that post "just plain wrong" - without explanation - and then give a little lecture on how people should post - that's a shame.

As to the staffing, can you please provide facts to support your claim that the staffing is "irregardless (sic) of how many branches are in operation"? I suspect that is "just plain wrong" - if we keep branches open, each one requires staffing for every open hour, regardless of the number of patrons. But as you wrote above, Paul, please "Site (sic) your facts,the source of them, specifically sited (sic), and then provide your point of view."

The pro-bond spin cycle is in full tilt!


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Posted by FACTS
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

In all, Palo Alto's library infrastructure is is desperate need of replacement and repair. We haven't invested in core library infrastructure for decades.

Here are some facts to ponder:


Employees:
The Library has 57 full-time equivalent (FTE) hours completed by 104 employees. Thus the 104 employees you mention work the equivalent of **57** full time employees. (page 4)


**********
Spending per capita Library Spending Per Capita FY 2005-06, with per capita efficiency ratings for each city based on cumulative library hour service return for per capita investment (i.e. per capita spend[PCS]] **divided by**cumulative service hour [CSH]. PLease note that *the lower the number, the higher the library staff efficiency in terms of total amount of service hour delivery accomplished*)

Palo Alto's $97.01 per capita spend results in 238 cumulative service hours at 5 branches per week PCS/CSH = .41

Santa Clara $57.70 per capita results in 73 hours of cumulative service hours at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .78

Mountain View's $55.19 results in 56 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .98

Menlo Park $61.68 per capita results in 57 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .92

Sunnyvale $49.97 per capita results in 57 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week. PCS/CSH = .88

By this reckoning, Palo Alto library staff is 2-2.5 times *more* efficient than its municipal neighbors.

Also, our branch system means less car trip (less carbon load); more walkable neighborhoods; better senior access; more places for after-school study (thus increasing the value of PAUSD to our students); more neighborhood meeting rooms; more programming (there are more places to carry on programming), and so on


*************
On the use of libraries within an environment if increasing Internet and mobile connectivity (pp 13-14), it turns out that Internet and mobile connectivity accompany an INCREASE in library use.

More from the audit:
"Use of Library continues to grow in spite of movement of information online

"Based on our observations of Palo Alto and other local libraries, and our
discussions with library professionals in Palo Alto and other local cities, the
movement of information online and the virtual delivery of library services online has not diminished the demand for the public work space that a Library building
offers. Similarly, the increasingly mobile nature of work and use of personal
laptops in public supports the view that customers value a library as a physical
place to visit as much as an online resource."

Libraries are also sources of many different kinds of value - monetary and otherwise - that I don't have time to go into.

This bond will create a sustainable library system for the next half-century. We owe it to ourselves and those who follow us to pass the library bond.






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Posted by real facts
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:01 pm

According to FACTS, if we open up more libraries we get more cumulative hours and so get even more efficient. We shouldn't be spending money on Michell, we should be opening up 5 new branch libraries. Now, where are those 23 reports?


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

"Walter, your engineering license expired long ago." Mr. not so bright, my engineering licenses, M14387 and E9754 are current, as is my E&O. Look it up at the California BORFPELS site, if you can get your mother to show you how to do a search.


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Posted by Good Grief
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Oh no, not this again. Even though we spend twice as much per person, we are way more efficient? This is pretty ugly.

We all want better libraries. The problem is that funding all 5 is not the way to get them. As Diane wrote, the poll showed that when DT library is dropped from the bond, support falls off (10% in fact). That's called a special interest group - give them what they want or they block the common good.

The only way I know to deal with that effectively is to just vote "no" - no new funding for branches that should be closed. And it is a shame, since it would be wonderful to invest in Mitchell. But we can't just accept all this spin, baloney, and special interest politics - otherwise we will deserve the poor fiscal management we're getting.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Paul, you really didn't read the report did you? You would seriously have preferred if I'd said "1.73x or 1.94x" (as pointed out in the subsequent post)?

As to the staffing. There isn't a direct correlation between staff and "circulation and patronage", you just made that up. Delve into the audit report some more (I know you don't want to read it) and you might see how closely the staffing matches that 2x per capita spending:

Page 28:
Exhibit 14: Palo Alto Compared to Other Cities

Total FTE Per 1,000 Cardholders
Palo Alto 0.95
Santa Clara 0.59
Sunnyvale 0.58
Mountain View 0.55


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Oh, and Paul, just in case you want to claim that Palo Alto is somehow different, let's do a comparison:

Mountain View Library
---------------------
Square footage: 60,000
Circulation: 1.4 million
Patrons: 810,589
Hours open: 64

Palo Alto Libraries
-------------------
Total Square footage: 51,435
Circulation: 1,414,509
Patrons: 862,081
Hours open: 62


Mountain view is open more hours, has more square feet, provides for the same circulation and patrons and does it all with half the staff and at half the per capita cost as Palo Alto.

Is that sufficient for you or am I still playing "fast and loose with facts"?


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm

"Logic Error" asked about the facility costs for our five libraries. Annual operating expenditures in 2006-07 for maintenance, utilities, and custodial services totaled between $4.50 - $5.00 per square foot. The overall average for all city facilities was closer to $3.80, but the City's Facilities Manager tells me that we spend more per square foot on the facilities that receive heavy use by the public.

Currently, we have 53,000 square feet in our five libraries - 26,313 at Main, 9,478 at Mitchell Park, 6,043 at Children's, 8,774 at Downtown, and 2,392 at College Terrace. Using the high range of the average cost, you can figure a total of $265,000 per year across the library system. Of course, there are additional capital costs for facilities for major improvements or to replace expensive building components that can't be funded through the operating budget.

"two branches too many" asks about the staffing numbers at Los Altos Library. I don't have that information, but it would be tough to compare their staffing level with Palo Alto's. Because Los Altos is part of the Santa Clara County Library, all administrative, technology, and collection support is provided by the headquarters operation.

I do know the staffing information for the Mountain View Public Library, which provides a better comparison for those interested in the single versus multi-library discussion. Mountain View has one central library open 64 hours per week plus one bookmobile that provided 28 hours of service per week in June. Their FTE count (1 FTE = 2080 hours of staffing)is 45 FTE. Palo Alto has five libraries open a total of 238 hours per week and 56.45 FTE. It's important when you try to compare staff counts that you consider that most public libraries rely on many part-time staff to keep things running. That's why our 109 authorized positions equate to only 56.45 FTE. We have more part-time staff, who work less than 18 hours per week, than we have staff who work 40 hours per week.


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Posted by FACTS
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 5:06 pm

hwga said: "As to the staffing. There isn't a direct correlation between staff and "circulation and patronage"

You're measuring library efficiency using only two variables. Public library system efficiency not only measured only in terms of staffing relative to circulation.

With so many more essential variables a part of our public library system, why are you only measuring two?

Public libraries, especially a well-run public library branch system mean so much more than the two variables. Why aren't you focusing on the benefits that a branch system brings to a community, as I indicated above, in my last post?

Palo Altans love their branch library system; they have said so in poll after poll.

As stated in my prior post "our branch system means less car trip (less carbon load); more walkable neighborhoods; better senior access; more places for after-school study (thus increasing the value of PAUSD to our students); more neighborhood meeting rooms; more programming (there are more places to carry on programming), and so on". There are many more benefits that I don't have time to list.

Imagine the cost that would ensue if we *closed* the branches? Hundreds, maybe thousands of PAUSD students would not have a place to study after school; downtown business persons in need of library service for vital information would lose time driving to more remote locations; car trips to libraries would go up, increasing Palo Alto's carbon load (a bad thing); already oversubscribed Saturday morning and occasional evening children's story times (and other children's programming) would be lost at Downtown and College Terrace; seniors living in proximity to branches would have to find alternate transportation; out-of-town workers who frequent our branch libraries would not be able to do so (this is a perk touted by many hiring organizations in Palo Alto); and so on.

So, to be fair, when you bring up costs and complain about them, it's incumbent on you to measure those costs against the many special benefits that accrue to Palo Alto from its branch system. Those benefits are worth something; they dramaitically increase the social and economic value of our public library.



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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 3, 2008 at 5:42 pm

FACTS,

Actually it was Paul who made a direct correlation between staff and "circulation and patronage". I was pointing out how wrong he was. (He's gone a bit quiet and I'm surprised he is isn't up to speed on the audit report given that he's a core member of the "better libraries for Palo Alto" group. Something he's neglected to mention in his posts).


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 3, 2008 at 5:46 pm

How many thousands of kids are there at DT branch every afternoon? How many "downtown business persons" do you think will be driving to other libraries to look things up? Out of town workers lured with the "perk" of Palo Alto branch libraries?? Am I really reading this stuff?

The branches are a low circulation waste, a perk for the small community around them. They are nice, but just not worth it - we need fiscal responsibility, not rhetoric.


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Posted by South of Oregon Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Bet you that if the smallest branch was in south of Palo Alto rather than downtown or College Terrace and Mitchell Park was somewhere else, we would be closing the small south Palo Alto branch. Amazing what the north/south divide discussed by Don Kazak actually means when it comes to amenities. I suppose we should be lucky to have Mitchell.


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Posted by South of Oregon II
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Yes South of Oregon - funny how with 4 of 5 branches on the north side, and most of the City Council from there too, we can't figure out how to close a single branch - except the old one at Terman! Nearly all the south side drives to the library, branches or not. Luckily Los Altos is near by.


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Posted by Library loving mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2008 at 8:46 pm

I've talked to dozens of Mom's at my children's elementary school about the library. It's amazing how little is known about the whole system. So far, it's thumbs up from everyone. The things people seem to like most are that the collection will begin to increase, the branches will stay here, and Mitchell is going to get a redo. These Mom's are exited, with several already working in the schools to gain support for the bond!!!


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Posted by South of Oregon resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:32 pm

The MP library was closed late today because of the heat. Do north libraries close in heat? How often in the past 2 months has MP closed early because it was too hot? How many people have had wasted journeys going to libraries that are closed because of heat? Are we having morning only service during this heatwave?

Good questions irrelevant of the Bond issue.


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:03 pm

The question about heat closures has been raised before. We close a library if the temperature in the public area of the building exceeds 90 degrees. I can tell you the temperatures in the staff work areas are always a few degrees hotter than that.

Since May 15 of this year, we've needed to close early due to heat 10 times at Mitchell Park, 4 times at College Terrace, and 2 times at Main Library.

Why Mitchell Park so often? Well, although it is a few miles closer to the equator than the libraries in north Palo Alto, the reason is the design of the building. It's not a very deep building, there are a lot of windows, and there's no air conditioning.


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Posted by Randy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:24 pm

I don't have time to look into this too much, so can anyone answer these questions:

1) How do all of these other cities fund their libraries and did they do it through parcel taxes?

2) Why does this bond measure have to be paid for with a parcel tax? Is the city not allowed to sell general obligation bonds? Why can't it be funded from the general fund(of course with cuts somewhere else)? Or maybe since they are having to spend so much to maintain these buildings they could be paid for out of the maintenance savings???

3) How come the measure in 2002 was for $49M, and since then they fixed the Children's Library so that is not included now, and now the cost is $76M?

4) How come this city cannot manage to pay for these basic services out of the stream of money it takes in? I am assuming that every time a house is sold that there is typically a substantial increase in property tax revenue. Does none of this money go to the city coffers? Where does the city get its funding from primarily? Property tax? Sales tax? How has the city revenue grown over the past 5 years or so?

Frankly I am fearful that the well intentioned citizens of Palo Alto are going to tax me out of my home. This is a significant amount of money and then there will be the Police Station and who knows what else. Prop 13 is already unfair to many residents and these parcel taxes just add insult to injury.


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Posted by donations
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:44 pm

1) How do all of these other cities fund their libraries and did they do it through parcel taxes?

Well, if you take a look at the new Redwood Shores library, they funded it with a mixture of state grants & corporate donations. It cost the local tax payers next to nothing. Funny thing is, one of their larger corporate donations came from Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Go figure.


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Posted by Foundation guy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:51 pm

donations, PAMC has a facility in Redwood City. And who says they won't donate this time.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 4, 2008 at 8:33 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Checking out the details of the Redwood Shores library, s/he is correct that the most of the funds came from the state: Web Link

"The California State Library office announced yesterday that Redwood City has been awarded a $10.1 million grant for the proposed Redwood Shores branch library, representing approximately two-thirds of the estimated cost of that branch. "


On the donations side: Web Link
"A previous phase of the campaign garnered $350,000 that included significant donations from Oracle USA, Provident Credit Union, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and other generous donors."

Contrast and compare how Redwood Shores has managed to fund a brand new $15mil library to the $5Mil that we just took out of Palo Alto's general fund to pay for College Terrace renovations! So much for LAC & FOPAL trying to leverage the goodwill in the area. Nah, too much work I guess.

Which leads me onto another point. All the pro-bond folks are saying the sky will fall if this bond doesn't pass. The cost of upgrade to DT is $3mil and the cost to upgrade Main is $12mil. Obviously we can spare $5mil a year out of the general fund since we're paying that to renovate a library that no-one uses. In 3 years, we can upgrade both Main & DT, which leaves only Mitchell (and Walter's already offered his services there!)
If you believe that there are more important things to pay for with the general fund, why are we paying $5mil for CT renovations? Isn't at least sorting out Main more important than CT?

All this is possible without the fund-raising that could occur as it did so well with the Children's library. Add in fund-raising with the general fund money being a match and we can get there in half the time with no bond!

Of course that still leaves us paying twice as much for the same service as neighboring cities...


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Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2008 at 8:42 am

Another reason to vote no on this bond is to protest the back door funding of the College Terrace branch approved by the city council recently. we know that College Terrace always gets what they want and the City council does not have the spine to stand up to those people.
One way of telling them enough is enough is to defeat the library bond.


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Posted by Organize against the bond?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2008 at 9:16 am

There seems to be a lot of organized support for the bond. Where is the organization against the bond? Between the city pulling out all the stops and no doubt the developers and realtors bankrolling an independent effort (as they did with the recent school bond), we will hear a lot about how vital it is - and nothing at all about alternative funding sources, the need to close branches, the $5 million College Terrace funding (to keep it out of the bond), the fact that 4 of 5 branches are north of the Oregon Expressway (and the only branch ever closed was in the south), etc. It seems like people should be able to hear both sides. Who is organizing the opposition?


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2008 at 9:24 am

Interesting that Diane Jennings says, "I agree with those who believe that a multi-branch system is not the most cost-efficient way to provide library service in Palo Alto." But the city council has told her not to consider a single library.

Obviously our council doesn't care about spending public funds -- our tax dollars -- in the most cost-efficient way.

Megan Fogarty says that "92% of Palo Altans use the library." Where does that number come from? I agree with Paul Losch that people need to provide sources for the info they post.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 4, 2008 at 9:52 am

Pat,

Since you seem to be referring to Paul's post to my claim that Palo Alto spends twice as much per capita as neighboring cities, I'm always happy to re-post this to keep it fresh: Web Link

Page 16:
Exhibit 7: Library Spending Per Capita FY 2005-06

Palo Alto $97.01
Santa Clara $57.70
Mountain View $55.19
Menlo Park $61.68
Sunnyvale $49.97

There are lot more details in the previous posts.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 4, 2008 at 9:53 am

There is an organized opposition underway.

We will be posting our material at:

www.paloaltoansforcommonsense.com

Using the Library's own performance numbers (reported to the State Library), we see:

40% of the Circulation is attributed to "non-books" (Videos and Audios).

The yearly growth rate for this kind of circulation is just under 2% a year. Given the historical trends, then the Library would expect to see circulation of videos/audios (non-books) of about 50% by 2012, 60% by 2018, and 70% by 2025. The claims about needing "more space" seem to be justified by pushing "increased circulation" numbers at the voters--without telling them about the HUGE/GROWING component of videos/audios in the circulation numbers.

Not at all clear how investing upwards of $200M for "free" videos is a good use of the public's money.

Moreover, a walk through any branch reveals:

Between 10AM-3PM, the facilities are pretty empty.
3PM-6:PM, the Main and Mitchell get more traffic.
6PM-9PM, Main and Mitchell return to being mostly empty.
(Other branches closed).

(The Internet is open all year/7/24, however.)

Actual walk-thru headcounts of Mitchell Park show between 20-30 people in the slow times. During the busy times, about 30 children show up to wait for their parents after school. They play video games, cards and run around like they didn't know they are in a library. The Recreation Center, next door, is generally empty all day long. There is a new computer lab which picks up some students after school, but this room is otherwise closed during non-school times.

Kids playing computer games could just as easily be asked to move to the Rec. Center--rather than make the Library "seem" like it is overused.

If anyone would like to chat about anything:

I can be contacted at:

YIM: wmartin46
Skype: wmartin46
e-mail: wmartin46@yahoo.com



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Posted by paloaltansforcommonsense.com
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2008 at 10:14 am

There was a typo in Wayne's website. The correct name is www.paloaltansforcommonsense.com Web Link.


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Posted by Randy
a resident of Duveneck School
on Sep 4, 2008 at 11:09 am

Palo Altans seem to be an odd bunch. I don't know who on earth would not like brand new buildings(even though when I have gone in them they seem ok to me). But no one really cares about how it is paid for??

The people who seem to support these measures are the newer residents, who are already paying large amounts in property taxes. I guess for them an extra couple of thousand dollars per year is nothing to worry about.

I personally am afraid to even talk about my reluctance on the library or school bond issues because people look at you like some sort miscreant- 'But this is for our children!'.

So we have a few groups:
1) The newer residents who do not know the value of a dollar, or don't care.

2) The older, established residents(probably most of the council) who via Prop 13 do not have to pay a fair share. They can just draft off all of the newcomers. Heck, I wouldn't mind a brand new library for $75/year!

3) The really older residents who actually are fiscally concerned because they don't have kids and are on limitted incomes. These folks would usually provide a balance to group (1) (and they actually vote), but group (1) will try to convince them that their property value will go down if it does not pass and they can apply for an exemption anyway so they don't even have to pay for it! Sounds like a good deal to me!

Does anyone have any sense in this town???? I am not saying we should never spend money or have parcel taxes, but someone has to look at all of these items which need to be paid for and come up with a plan to pay for them, WITH PARCEL TAXES BEING THE LAST RESORT, NOT THE FIRST!

'That newspaper columist' (Diane(a?) Diamond) harps all the time about the supposed inefficiencies in this city. It is tiring to see her complaining about this all the time, but some of the data she sites does raise interesting questions. The problem is that I have never seen anyone try to refute her general premise. She will list 10 items and some people will pick on one or two, but I have never seem her concerns fully addressed. I always will hear BS like, 'over 90% of the residents are happy with the services they receive'. The costs of these services are never addressed as far as I can tell. Am I wrong?? It seems that most of the people who try to get answers are categorized as 'quacks' and marginalized.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2008 at 12:49 pm

The resources issue with our system isn't Downtown and College Terrace. Both sites are lightly staffed and resourced.

The real issue is we insist on operating Main and Mitchell Park, five minutes apart on Middlefield, as co-equal lead sites.

I supported the previous bond measure because it put most of the wood behind one arrow.

This bond funds a Mitchell Park building that's too small to be the lead site for a modern system, and builds conference rooms at Main that duplicate resources just down the street at Lucie Stern.

If it passes it will be because it's the least awful option, not because it's a good choice. If it doesn't pass, perhaps we'll finally ask the question, "What library system can we operate on the resources we're willing to sustainably commit as a community?"

Don't forget the auditor's report that shows another $450M of unfunded capital projects...


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 4, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Good points from Anonymous. This proposal is a "horse by committee," put together to garner votes, not do the right thing. It is sad, I think - so much money, so little real vision.

Also agree (somewhat) with Randy. Randy, you are not the only one! I am often shocked at how little people seem to care about "a million here, a million there" - but of course for the prop-13 beneficiaries, their share is small. What do do?



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Posted by non-prop 13er
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2008 at 2:45 pm

>but of course for the prop-13 beneficiaries,
>their share is small. What do do?

That's the reason for the supermajority, to protect the newer residents. When it starts being effective you get deadlock so they change the supermajority from 66% to 55%.


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Posted by Straight talk
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2008 at 3:25 pm

It's important to note that Wayne Martin led a strong effort against the previous library bond (Measure D). He took advantage of the fact that most Palo Altans consider their library to be sacrosanct, and a huge benefit to the community. Notice that Mr. Martin _never_ speaks about the benefits of the library. He's always talking about the cost.

This is ironic, because here we are, some 6 years after Mr. Martin helped cause the defeat of Measure D, a defeat that has, in it's wake, been accompanied by ever increasing costs of infrastructure building due to construction inflation.

In short, Mr. Martin has already cost this city more than $30M dollars, if one considers the difference between Measure D and the current Measure N.

Mr. Martin also knows full well that if this bond is defeated, it will spell the end of the branch system in Palo Alto, as well as a reduction in service deployment.

Voters should also be aware that Mr. Martin has led - time-and-again - efforts to defeat school bonds. In fact, Mr. Martin has virulently opposed every bond measure that I can remember.

I have personally heard Mr. Martin say that he doesn't think much of Palo Altans; he's said that they're "too privileged", and should "toughen up".

I have heard Mr. martin (he said it at a community meeting at Mitchell Park) refer to our hard working library staff members as "Marion the Librarian". He said this with a smirk on his face, without the slightest tint of irony; he was serious. These are the same librarians who help Mr. martin every day, as he is a frequent visitor to and user of our local library.

Before I get on with the rest, readers should note that Mr. Martin fancies himself an accurate prognosticator of thing technological. He's always doing this. For instance, his minikin projection of how much space will be taken by videos in the library is absurd on its face. there is no other way to say it; Mr. Martin only knows a _little_ about the innards of technology; he understands virtually nothing about its deployment, or use.

What Mr. Martin _always_ gets wrong is the social aspect of technology; he conveniently forgets that their is a social life of information, and that this social life has been accurately expounded on by technologists who are the real thinker, and experts, not just some anti-everything Googler who prints out reams of information to support his contentions and then passes them off as "research papers" (this is true, and can be corroborated)

For instance, Mr. Martin claims to have written an "800 page paper" in opposition to the FTTH plan. I saw some of that "paper"; it was nothing more than a stream of pro-telco promotions that Mr. Martin took as "research". Laughable.

About research: I would like Mr. Martin to substantiate his claim about video growth in libraries. I want Mr. Martin to produce just ONE serious independent research report that says that videos will replace books in _public_ libraries within the next 25 years. Not a projection, a researched report with sterling experts from the technology sector. Just one.

Let's look at library attendance. Apparently, Mr. Martin thinks that his "walkabouts" to various libraries at various times during the day negates the visitor numbers made by technology counters in the libraries. How very omniscient. Not! Disingenuous is more like it.

What's even more ironic is that Mr. Martin is himself a heavy user of the library.

Mr. Martin could hardly believe his good fortune when Measure D was defeated. Gosh, he was actually able to rally a MINORITY of Palo Altans to defeat measure D. So, what we have been dealing with here is rule by _minority_.

This is a further irony because when Mr. Martin expounds on politics (another area pf claimed expertise), one always hears him - repeatedly, using the same stories - referring to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

Back to the library: I would like Mr. Martin to produce one of his famous "spreadsheets" to show what it would cost to parents in our city if we lose our library system.

If this bond doesn't pass, Mitchell Park will remain as it is, for years; this will further increase any cost to the city. What Mr. Martin fails to notice is that if Measure N does by some slim chance fail (I'm predicting it will pass, with 71-76% "for" the bond) the delays incurred in the rebuild that MUST take place if ANY of our library system is to survive, would result in additional construction inflation costs that would result in virtually the SAME amount being spent for just ONE library!!

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

In all, Measure N MUST pass if we're going to keep our branch libraries, as wll as make sure that the core part of our library system is healthy and able to serve it's many constituencies, including PAUSD students, seniors, business person, researchers, community groups, and so on.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by BM
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 4, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Also, what I don't see from anyone, is any rebuttal to "FACTS" posts. All I've seen is a dismissive "not this again". These anti-library folks need to learn how to run a spreadsheet, measure costs, and do sound projections. So far, all I've seen is a lot of empty garbage.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2008 at 6:30 pm

¡§Here we go again¡¨: Thanks for the link. I know your per capita costs are correct because I had already researched them myself on the CA state library site: California Public Libraries Statistics 2006 ¡V 2007: www.library.ca.gov/lds/librarystats.html

Here¡¦s what¡¦s really interesting: STAFF costs per capita for some nearby libraries:
Burlingame $70.54
Menlo Park $51.97
Mt. View $48.83
PALO ALTO $71.65
Redwood City $55.50
San Francisco $62.54
San Jose $25.64
San Mateo $41.14
San Mateo County $38.63
Santa Clara $44.13
Santa Clara County $43.94
Sunnyvale $32.90

The library audit tells us that we need more staff because we have more branches. Staffing is already 77% of the library budget.

No one knows how much staffing will increase if the bond passes and the libraries are upgraded/rebuilt. In a presentation to the city council by Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin & Assoc. on July 7, 2008, Slide 36 says:
-------------------------------------
Components of Operating/Maintenance Costs

ħ Custodial/maintenance costs
ħ Utility costs
ħ Library collection maintenance
ħ Furniture and computer replacement
ħ Additional library, community center and facility maintenance staffing (up to 5 full time positions)

The estimated annual cost for these items could range between $750,000 - $1.1 M pending further evaluation and analysis.
--------------------------------

Note that these are ¡§estimated¡¨ costs and that ¡§further evaluation and analysis¡¨ is needed.

It¡¦s also important to note that there is no technology plan in place for the libraries. How much will be needed for new technology ¡V and tech staff ¡V and where will that money come from?

It¡¦s mind-boggling that we have a ballot that will supposedly modernize our libraries when there¡¦s no technology plan. And how could anyone, in good conscience, put a bond on the ballot without knowing the ONGOING operating costs ¡V which bond money cannot pay for?


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Posted by Parent without handles
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Pat's comments make a great deal of sense. This is not the improvements we want.


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Pat,

Technology costs for the improved facilities have been accounted for. They are factored in as part of the estimate for the additional operating costs of the improved facilities. And the $4.3 estimate for equipment, furniture, and fixtures (FF&E) that can't be part of the bond includes the cost for technology upgrades.

The FF&E funding for the renovated Children's Library was provided from private donations thanks to the successful fund raising efforts of the Palo Alto Library Foundation and supported by the Friends of the Library. We are fortunate to have effective support organizations in our community.

And, as you know, we are finishing a study of the use of RFID and automated materials handling for the library system. We are on the verge of starting the development of a more comprehensive technology plan with the support of a citizens' advisory committee.


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Posted by Straight talk
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Please notice that "pat", like Wayne Martin, mentions only the cost of the library. S/he never mentions benefits. Why is that?

Notice that "pat" keeps repeating the same mantra about per capita costs, without mentioning the massively efficient library staff that we already have.

If we listen to the "pat's" of the world, we would have no schools; we would have no police facilities; we would have no roads; we would have no libraries, because no organization can define with minute accuracy what ongoing costs will be.

Further, "pat" neglects to mention how much it will COST if the bond is voted down.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

If you want to live with our library as it is for the next 4-5 years, vote down the bond.

If you want to have our city go through another 4-5 years of diligence necessary to build a library system without branches, think about how, in 4-5 years, just ONE library will cost as much as the current bond.

If Measure N is defeated, you'll to wonder where your kids are going after school, or how you'll get to the library by foot, or why you have to drive to the library, or why the book and media collection hasn't increased, and why there are less story times than there used to be, and why the library will continue to close in hot weather, and many other serious losses.

Why doesn't "pat" or Wayne Martin bring that up? Because all they think about is cost, and in the mix forget about the good people of Palo Alto who deserve to have library infrastructure equal to the potential of our good citizens, instead of a ramshackle infrastructure that pleases hopeless fiscal minimalists.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2008 at 8:03 pm

I do have a day job, and this is my company's busy time of year. With two kids in private colleges, and as a small business owner, I don't always have time to follow PA Online. Big tuition payments, among other things, take priority.

A library system in any community operates based on demand, not the total population of the community. That is why I think the per-capita numbers have limited utility. If 25% of City A uses the libraries actively and 50% of City B does the same, even if they are the same size cities, guess what? The per capita cost of operating libraries in City B is going to be higher.

But I think the larger point is getting missed. These buildings and facilities are over 50 years old. Many other cities in our area had the same situation, and they found ways to get their libraries upgraded. That is what we need to do in Palo Alto, and that is what this bond measure is about.




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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Diane: I don't understand how "technology costs for the improved facilities have been accounted for" if you "are on the verge of starting the development of a more comprehensive technology plan." How do you know what the costs will be without the plan?

Paul, you always provide thoughtful comments, and I want to respond to two points you bring up.

1. "The 104 employees … is the number of people who work in our library system because that is how many people are needed to service the community's demands and circulation. … this is largely driven by circulation and patronage, irregardless of how many branches are in operation."

From the California Public Library Statistics FY 2006-07:
- Mountain View has one 60,000 sq ft library and a circulation of 1,404,583. Their operating costs are $58.84 per capita.
- Palo Alto has 5 branches for a total of 51,435 sq ft and a circulation of 1,414,509. Operating costs are $96.28 per capita.

2. "A library system in any community operates based on demand, not the total population of the community."

But the total population of the community pays for the library system, and I expect the city government to invest public funds wisely, after due diligence and fiscal analysis.

If Measure N was a business prospectus, would you invest in it, not knowing operating costs of each "plant" and not having a detailed technology plan? I would not.

I'm STRONGLY in favor of libraries. I think Palo Altans deserve better than our existing old facilities. But we do not need five branches.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:36 am

Diane, Paul,

Don't you see a pattern here? I laud your well-meaning attempts to answer certain poster's questions, but one or two of these posters have asked them before - and you've answered them before.

These posters always come back to the same questions, with a very slight difference of approach, and always with a little more query added to their cocktail of new questions - accompanied by innuendo that implies "you just don't get it", or "how can you run the "xyz" organization that way?" etc. etc.

Concern Trolling:
On the net there is a classic kind of trolling called "concern trolling". It's very subtle, and you see it a lot in political forums, educational forums, science forums, etc. etc.

"Concern trolling" doesn't look like trolling at first, and often comes off as seeming very sincere. That's how well-meaning people get hooked.

"Concern trollers" always have another "angle" for their "concern", that, when closely viewed is really nothing more than a point of view that they will never change.

Concern trollers have already made up their mind about an issue, and nothing is going to change that. They ask questions to force defensive answering, or to gain information that they can tweak to their own designs, to force their "concern" ad infinitum.

You know certain posters here aren't going to vote for the bond. There are some posters here who have virulently opposed every bond that has ever been put out there.

Why do you bother answering their questions, knowing who they are? Let someone else deal with them. They take everything you say and uses it for the next critique. They'll flatter you with praise about how "you are a rational responder", and so on. So, yuo respond. What comes out of that.

I encourage you to continue to answer questions, but to be cautious with "concern trollers", because there's no end to their nonsense, and *YOU* always end up on the short end, spending your valuable time answering questions that are always turned against you in the end.

'nuff said



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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:40 am

YES! on Measure N - our children, our seniors, our parents, our physically challenged citizens, our first generation immigrants, our business community, our school system, our librarians - all these and more - deserve to participate and work in a first class branch library system.


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 5, 2008 at 9:41 am

Yes, "anonymous", you are correct that many people who post here have made up their minds, and answers to their questions will not change those opinions. However, that doesn't mean that some legitimate questions aren't asked. My role as the Library Director is to provide information on this important community issue. I have to assume that many people who read this blog are asking similar questions.

Pat - How can technology costs be accounted for if we haven't completed the full library technology plan? A complete technology plan covers much more than just the equipment that will be placed in any building. We moved ahead on getting the RFID/automated materials handling study completed because that's likely to be the most expensive piece of equipment that might be recommended for one or more of the libraries. But the more difficult part of developing a technology plan is deciding what applications to incorporate in our service. Those aren't building specific.

Also, remember that we've completed only the schematic designs for the three proposed library projects. That's 35% design - at that stage all costs are estimates. The complete list of technology equipment will be developed during the 100% design phase of planning - this would start after we know the projects will go forward. This design phase will take a year. We'll be done with the Library's technology plan before then.

But the needs assessment developed to support the building plans have identified some basics - numbers of PCs in each library and whether there will be dedicated space for a technology lab. That information was used to develop a cost estimate for the additional annual operating cost for the proposed improvements.

Pat


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:11 am

Hi Paul, I understand. Evenings with my family are also more important than following a Town Square thread.

It's interesting that you've changed your story from "Your facts are plain wrong" to "well, that isn't exactly 2 times" to "per captita costs don't matter anyway".
You are now trying to ignore aspects from the audit report that you you'd like to hide while continue to use selective quotes from the audit report. You, know, that "spin" I mentioned in my first post!

And, if you don't want to talk about per-capita costs, can you please explain why we need twice as many full time library employees per 1000 cardholders compared to neighboring cities. Or is that just another audit fact that you'd like to ignore...


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:17 am

This issue has just got too complicated for me.

On the one hand, we want new facilities.

On the other hand, we don't appear to need 5 branches.

If we vote yes, it makes it appear we want the 5 branches and are in support of the plans as outlined.

If we vote no, we get nothing.

It seems we have no choice at all. We either vote for what we don't want to get what we need. Or we vote for nothing at all.

We can't win. I hope many people will leave this vote blank on their ballot and that the abstentions are taken into account as a vote for something else soon please.


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Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:21 am

Resident--maybe that is the thought of our city council--don;t give the people real choice--either vote for the bond or end up with crap for libraries. That is why I strongly encourage a no vote--this will send the council a message--then they will have to come up with a plan that the majority of PA residents want, not this bond the is desired by the "5 branches at all costs" crowd


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Posted by YES on Measure N
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:42 am

"maybe that is the thought of our city council--don;t give the people real choice--either vote for the bond or end up with crap for libraries. That is why I strongly encourage a no vote--this will send the council a message--then they will have to come up with a plan that the majority of PA residents want, not this bond the is desired by the "5 branches at all costs" crowd" - - And what will that leave you? Have you added up the monetary BENEFITS of the branch system. Look at some of the posts above yours, for a small idea. - -Do you have any idea what a bond defeat would mean? YEARS of more diligence, consultants, redesign, etc. etc. - - By the time all this was complete, we'd be into 2012, at minimum. Add 12% per year for construction inflation, and see what you come up with. - - I can tell you that if the bond fails and the branch system dies, we will end up paying as much for ONE facility as we would have to fix the entire system. - - If you want to waste ANOTHER $25-30M (that's how much the Measure D defeat has cost us, based on the difference between the cost of a bond then, and now) vote "no" on the bond. - - Down the road, you will end up paying MORE, for LESS. If that's what you want, so be it. - - I will be voting "YES!". My kids use DT, Mitchell, and Main. My husband uses CT a LOT (he works at SRI). My mother, who no longer drives, is able to walk to DT. our branch library system is a treasure. We must preserve it for our community and future generations.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:44 am

Resident, yes, that's exactly how this bond has been constructed. To pander to the special interest group so that it gets what it wants while the rest of us get sort of what we need.

Take a look at FOPAL's letter to the council when the Terman closure was up for debate back in 2003 Web Link. A couple of quotes:
"The community has repeatedly supported our present 6-branch system."
"We believe the benefits from keeping Terman open far exceed any money that may be saved from closing this branch, particularly when any savings are offset by loss of FOPAL revenue."

You can see how hard they fight every inch of the way to keep their branches open. Terman was closed with no adverse affects. As could DT & CT...


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Posted by Vote No on the bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:51 am

Yes on measure N--"-Do you have any idea what a bond defeat would mean?"--yes I do. It would mean the council would have to go back and formulate a bond that would give the people what they want and deserve, instead of this pandering to special interests.


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Posted by YES on Measure N
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:03 pm

"Yes on measure N--"-Do you have any idea what a bond defeat would mean?"--yes I do. It would mean the council would have to go back and formulate a bond that would give the people what they want and deserve, instead of this pandering to special interests."

Yes, that's true, the council would have to reconsider - that means a raft of more polls, more diligence by the Library Commission, more consultants, and so on. AND, would also cost our community 10's of millions of dollars MORE for the library that YOU want to build, when we finally get around to building it. So who is the special selfish interest here?
- - Don't you think it's silly to vote against this bond knowing that you will get less library for MORE money down the road? If you don't think that's silly, I have a bridge to sell you.


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Posted by No on Measure N
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Voting "yes" on this bond WILL cost us millions each year in on-going costs to support an out-dated branch system. The only way to have this system rationalized and to save us money is to vote NO on this bond.


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Posted by the truth
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:49 pm

pat:
"- Mountain View has one 60,000 sq ft library and a circulation of 1,404,583. Their operating costs are $58.84 per capita.

- Palo Alto has 5 branches for a total of 51,435 sq ft and a circulation of 1,414,509. Operating costs are $96.28 per capita."
---------------
the truth:
Spending per capita Library Spending Per Capita FY 2005-06, with per capita efficiency ratings for each city based on cumulative library hour service return for per capita investment (i.e. per capita spend[PCS]] **divided by**cumulative service hour [CSH]. PLease note that *the lower the number, the higher the library staff efficiency in terms of total amount of service hour delivery accomplished*)

Palo Alto's $97.01 per capita spend results in 238 cumulative service hours at 5 branches per week PCS/CSH = .41

Santa Clara $57.70 per capita results in 73 hours of cumulative service hours at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .78

Mountain View's $55.19 results in 56 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .98

Menlo Park $61.68 per capita results in 57 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .92

Sunnyvale $49.97 per capita results in 57 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week. PCS/CSH = .88

By this reckoning, Palo Alto library staff is 2-2.5 times *more* efficient than its municipal neighbors.




pat"
"2. "A library system in any community operates based on demand, not the total population of the community."

But the total population of the community pays for the library system, and I expect the city government to invest public funds wisely, after due diligence and fiscal analysis.
-----------------
the truth:
25 professional studies show that the *everyone* in a community profits from a library, whether they use it or not. You should read some of those studies.




pat:
"If Measure N was a business prospectus, would you invest in it, not knowing operating costs of each "plant" and not having a detailed technology plan? I would not."
----------
the truth:
25 libraries result in a positive return on taxpayer investment, Despite *professional* econometricians and demographers designing these studies, and despite the fact that they have been carried out in small and large metropolitan areas, with the same result, you deny those results, because you think the studies are flawed, just like yuo think the library bond is flawed, just like you thought that the last library bond was flawed, just like you thought the PAUSD bonds were flawed, and so on. Will it never end?

Might I suggest you apply for the job of head librarian; we could really use your expertise (smirk).




pat:
"I'm STRONGLY in favor of libraries. I think Palo Altans deserve better than our existing old facilities. But we do not need five branches."
---------
the truth:
You're strongly in favor of the library that you've created in your head. You are not a head librarian; you're not an economist; you're not a demographer; you're not a financial consultant; you're not a technology consultant; you're a marketer and a citizen of Palo Alto. And, you're a citizen who has opposed every bond that's ever come up here.

You spew selected statistics and talk about costs without EVER talking about library benefits. You have failed to answer other's questions about benefits. You gloss them over,


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RAH! RAH! FOR MEASURE N!
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 5, 2008 at 1:00 pm

VOTING *NO* ON MEASURE 'N' MEANS

MORE LOCAL CAR TRIPS,

LESS STORY TIMES AND OTHER CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING,

SMALLER BOOK AND MEDIA COLLECTION,

LESS HOMEWORK HELP FROM THE HOMEWORK HELP PROGRAM,

LESS LIBRARY COOPERATION WITH PAUSD;

LESS PLACES FOR SENIORS (34% OF OUR POPULATION) TO VISIT,

LESS PLACES FOR OUR CHILDREN AND STUDENTS TO FREQUENT AFTER SCHOOL AND ON WEEKENDS FOR HOMEWORK KAND OTHER CULTURAL ACTIVITIES,

LIVING WITH CURRENT DILAPIDATED FACILITIES FOR AT LEAST 4 MORE YEARS

LESS PLACES FOR CITIZENS TO CONGREGATE

MORE COST TO BUILD A FUTURE LIBRARY BECAUSE OF DELAY (INFLATION)

&&&&
WE HAVE THE MOST DILAPIDATE LIBRARY INFRASTRUCTURE ON THE PENINSULA


VOTE "YES" ON MEASURE N - OUR CHILDREN, SENIOR CITIZENS, PARENTS, TEACHERS, LOCAL BUSINESSES, STUDENTS AND MANY OTHERS DESERVE A PUBLIC BRANCH LIBRARY SYSTEM THAT IS AS GOOD AS THE OTHERS ON OUR PENINSULA.


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Posted by Vote No on the bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Yes on Measure N--"- - Don't you think it's silly to vote against this bond knowing that you will get less library for MORE money down the road? If you don't think that's silly, I have a bridge to sell you."

No, I think it is a matter of principal to vote against this bond--which will continue our outdated and innefficient branch library system. we need a single central branch. the council must stop kowtowing to these vocal special interests groups who are against change and think that the clock stopped running in PA in 1966.

Please spare me the condescending comments regarding the way i think--this is my opinion and I will stick to it and anyway, I only need 33 1/3 percent + 1 to "win".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CFO
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Anyone who thinks a bad project today saves money over a good project tomorrow doesn't understand money.

That line of thinking does explain the mortgage crisis.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Someone who knows a good product
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Sep 5, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Anyone who thinks a good project today saves money for a bad project tomorrow doesn't understand money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 5, 2008 at 5:16 pm

I stand by my comment that per capita costs of the PA Library system is a flawed way to view it.

I stand by my comment that comparing per capita costs of operating the Palo Alto Library system being twice what it costs to operate libraries is incorrect, and to offer up such a simplistic assertion is not helpful for people who are trying to thoughtfully weigh this issue.

There are 2 key things on which people must focus:

1. These are building that are over 50 years old. They have not gotten significant upgrades during that time. That is what we are voting on

2. The community rejected the notion of a single branch and expressed its desire for a multiple branch system a few years back. One of the thing I have learned as a boss and as a subordinate is that there is a time to advocate for a particular approach, and once a key decision is made, it is time to either accept the decision and do one's best to implement it. In a work situation, you can leave the company if you don't like the decision that has been made.

I don't think people will move out of Palo Alto, the equivelant of resigning, if the bond goes in the direction opposite of how someone has voted. But to vote no on this matter because of a belief that a single branch is better, whatever the merits of such an approach, is voting on something that got rejected by voters in Palo Alto just a few years back.

Let's accept that the community overall prefers its 5 branches and then agree that 3 of them are in dire need of major physical upgrading.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paul, a shame
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 5, 2008 at 5:34 pm

Well Paul, it is a shame you can't admit when you are wrong and that 1.7x or 1.9x rounds to 2x. I note you offer no counter argument, just repeat "flawed, too simplistic" and then change the subject. Oh well, so be it.

To say the community overall prefers its 5 branches is, as you would say, "just plain wrong." There are whole threads sifting the polling data. Not surprisingly, the question was never asked straight up - giving the alternative and the costs. Asking "do you prefer the branch system" is like asking "do you prefer world peace" - it begs the questions of what does it cost and how do we get there?

So let's accept that people want the best library system they can get; the proposed bond doesn't deliver it, in fact it is just a politically brokered compromise; and that we are just about always better off waiting for the right thing than spending $80M on the wrong thing. If we accept that, then it would be helpful for the City to just close DT and CT (as they did Terman) and then propose a bond to rebuild Mitchell and Main. Done in that sequence, I'm sure it would pass handily, don't you?


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Downtown and College Terrace are side issues. The real issue is duplicate facilities and resources at Main and Mitchell. Designate one as the central facility, resource the other three as minimally as DT and CT we can keep five branches. We can open five more: it won't matter. What drives our per-capita costs up is we do everything twice to support two co-equal facilities that are each 1/2 of what we could have.

Paul makes a good point, but unfortunately the process we have rewards the viewpoints of those who are willing to sit through years of tedious meetings and leaves the rest of the community with only a yes/no vote. We'll see if there are others like me who favored measure D and are not so excited about measure N. Time will tell.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 5, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Just in case you thought the above poster was me, it wasn't. I was looking up the last survey results from July 2008 here: Web Link
For some reason, it's not easy to locate on the pro-bond sites.

Anyways, Slide #27

58% of Palo Altans considered the following a convincing argument:

"We should focus our resources on one or two full-service libraries instead of spending money to upgrade 5 different libraries."

Then read the first line of Dian's opinion piece here:
"Is it good policy to continue to maintain five libraries in Palo Alto?"

Doesn't sound at all like the community (or the current library director) has rejected closing down CT & DT. If anything, opinion is definitely moving more and away from the antiquated branches and more towards the one or two library concept. Not surprising when you consider the waste in the current system.


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Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2008 at 7:27 pm

I am just glad Mr. Martin gets to make use of Mitchell Park Library no matter how he votes and he rants and raves -- I have seen him there often. I am truly glad he uses the Library because libraries are a matter of social justice -- anyone can use them and get books and access to technology and information they can't access from home. I literally save thousands of dollars each year using our Library. And I mean OUR library. Let's face it folks - we don't get something for nothing any more. A library closed several afternoons because of hot weather - is this really the birthplace of Stanford and Silicon Valley? AND, the best thing about this bond is that it is building flexible spaces that can be used for changing uses over time -- disaster services, senior services, neighborhood based classes. We need to maintain our civic property for future generations! And I love that there will be designated places for youth and children -- hat's off to Measure N.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2008 at 7:27 pm

I am just glad Mr. Martin gets to make use of Mitchell Park Library no matter how he votes and he rants and raves -- I have seen him there often. I am truly glad he uses the Library because libraries are a matter of social justice -- anyone can use them and get books and access to technology and information they can't access from home. I literally save thousands of dollars each year using our Library. And I mean OUR library. Let's face it folks - we don't get something for nothing any more. A library closed several afternoons because of hot weather - is this really the birthplace of Stanford and Silicon Valley? AND, the best thing about this bond is that it is building flexible spaces that can be used for changing uses over time -- disaster services, senior services, neighborhood based classes. We need to maintain our civic property for future generations! And I love that there will be designated places for youth and children -- hat's off to Measure N.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by laura
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2008 at 6:41 am

Having lived in Sunnyvale before moving to Palo Alto I can attest that the single library serving Sunnyvale is excellent. It meets the needs of the community and makes a lot more sense than small local branches that are old, inefficient and a waste of taxpayer dollars.


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Posted by libraryfan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2008 at 11:58 am

About the branches, remember that Palo Alto does not exist in isolation. The real branch libraries are in our immediate neighboring cities of Menlo Park, Los Altos, and Mountain View. They are great libraries. After 80 million dollars are spent, will we be able to say that we have great libraries? Not even spending that much money will give us what Mountain View has, and certainly not at the per capita price.


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Posted by Booklover
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Wouldn't it make sense to approve the bond and build a new Mitchell Park branch so we have one new and up to date library? Then keep track of the use of all the libraries and have a discussion about the branches at that time? I bet that the new library would get so much business that the small branches won't be as necessary or missed.

Get it built and they will come, from all over PA and neighboring communities as well.


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Posted by Rah! RAH! FOR MEASURE N!
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 6, 2008 at 12:53 pm

"spending that much money will give us what Mountain View has" - -

NOT EVEN CLOSE!

Mountain View, doesn't have a Children's library. Palo Alto does.

Mountain View doesn't have branches. Palo Alto does.

Most Mountain View citizens aren't within walking distance of the main library. Most Palo Alto citizens are within walking distance of a library.

Mountain View's library cannot deliver simultaneous, library-based children's programming in *neighborhoods*. Palo Alto libraries can.

Many Mountain View seniors live in apartment complexes in the south side of town, too far to walk to a library

Most Mt. View K-12 students cannot walk to a library after school. The Majority of Palo Alto students can.

Mountain View has an almost brand new facility that create library and staff efficiencies. Palo Alto DOESN'T.







 +   Like this comment
Posted by bigger libraries
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2008 at 12:55 pm

This bond limits the choices in any subsequent discussion. You are voting for the status quo by voting YES on this bond. We end up with a smaller new "main" library than neighboring cities and waste 15 million dollars on Main and DownTown.
The discussion has to happen before not after the bond.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by libraryfan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Let's see, Palo Alto has one library south of Oregon Expressway. I'd like to see some data that show just what percentage of people in South PA are within half a mile of the Mitchell Park library. And how about some data on how many K-12 students can walk to a library after school. I'm still wondering why this is a good idea anyway -- can't the school libraries be staffed by volunteers so the kids can stay on site? As for the PA Children's Library, that means every parent who wants to check out adult books has to drive to another library! Mountain View library has a wonderful children's section. Palo Alto will get less than it deserves with Measure N.



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Posted by I will vote yes
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Palo Alto has five locations where you can get children's AND adult books. Why is it a bad idea for middle schoolers and high schoolers to walk to a library a few blocks away from school? That's a tradition here. Staffing K-12 libraries with volunteers is a waste of time because the K-12 library collections don't come close to our public library.


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Posted by I will vote yes too out of PITY
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2008 at 10:47 pm

"Most Mt. View K-12 students cannot walk to a library after school. The Majority of Palo Alto students can."

Ha! I just have to laugh at this. So what if they can walk to the libraries? Given the poor condition and selection why bother?

Gunn teachers and librarians recommend NOT to go to dismal Palo Alto libraries. Practically every teacher recommends Mtn View, Redwood City, Los Altos and Stanford Univ libraries for research and books.

Only K-8 level schools in Palo Alto actually recommend using the city's own libraries. How sad, if you want real research supplies guess you'll have to cross the border.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nort/south divide
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 7, 2008 at 7:47 am

"Most Gunn students cannot walk to a library after school. The Majority of Paly students can."

Fixed!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2008 at 11:25 am

I guess that many book-related issues are being intermingled:
1. Quality and quantity of books (does the Bond pay much attention to this?)
2. Modernness of the physical plants that house the books.
3. Reconstruction of Mitchell community center (underutilized now)
4. Wise financial expenditures, borrowing from the future for present expenditures, etc.
See that Redwood Shores got their new library for $2 Mil, plus a 15 Mil state grant (because of the worthiness of their development plan). Like PA, they already owned the land.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2008 at 11:35 am

Why should students be walking to any public library after school? Why aren't they walking to their own, well stocked (in many cases) school library? BTW - school libraries must have a staff member in them - they can't be just volunteer run - but it would not need to be the librarian. I think it would be great if at least the middle and high school libraries were open until 5 or 6.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by shelf space comes at a premium
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2008 at 11:35 am

1. Quality and quantity of books (does the Bond pay much attention to this?)

The bond would address the quantity of books. When I volunteered at Mitchell Park we had to throw out books whenever we purchased new ones. Basically an older book occupying the same shelf would just get tossed into the recycling bin or sent to the Friends of PAL.

Since the bond addresses increasing the square footage and shelf space of Mitchell Park maybe we'll finally be able to buy books without throwing away other books to make room.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 7, 2008 at 9:47 pm

I'm voting NO.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2008 at 10:22 pm

At Mitchell today. Knowing how badly we "need" more community center capability, I was surprised to see what its hours of use are for Sat-Sunday. Anyone want to guess? (the comm ctr, not the library)



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yes on Measure N
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2008 at 11:33 pm

The community center is a mess; the new plan calls for more integrated programming between the library and community center. that will save out city money, and increase the quality and variety of things that our citizens can enjoy. Such a deal!

Yes on Measure N


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Such a deal?
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 8, 2008 at 12:16 am

That kind of wishful thinking leaves me shaking my head. The only think certain is that we'll spend $80 million. The rest will likely go on as before.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2008 at 12:19 am

> "… the new plan calls for more integrated programming between the library and community center. that will save out city money, …"

How do we know this will save money? Will more or less staffing be required if there are more programs in more spaces?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Such a deal! Yes on Measure N!
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2008 at 1:20 am

there will be more programming with less staffing. it's going to be a really beutiful and functional space that our community will be proud of, and can grow with


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Libraries, or War?
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 8, 2008 at 1:21 am

better $80 Million on a Library than $80 Million in Iraq


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2008 at 10:05 am

Such a deal: Could you please cite your sources for "more programming with less staffing?"

I'm still trying to figure out the source for "92% of Palo Altans use the library." According to the CA library statistics for FY 2006-07, 84.8% of Palo Altans are "registered," which I assume means they have a library card.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 8, 2008 at 11:54 am

Pat, yes, where is Paul when you need him to chide these folks that don't back up their arguments? Or don't the pro-bond crowd need to back up their arguments?

If they did a bit of research, they would hear what Diane has already stated: "Jennings said she would examine staffing, but said it would be challenging to staff a larger facility for additional hours with the same number of people."

It's quite the opposite to what you're hearing here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Based on my reading of the foregoing and my prior review of other related documents and articles, I, too, am voting no on the proposed bond measure.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by deep pockets
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2008 at 2:27 pm

"… the new plan calls for more integrated programming between the library and community center."
You'd think this could be accomplished without floating a bond. Why can't they implement this NOW - prove that they're using our current money wisely? I have no reason to throw more money at such a wasteful system.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Did everyone read about the big bond kickoff rally/library lovefest yesterday?. They had all the big guns out pushing for the bond--the city council, Simitian and Kniss.
More reasons to vote against the bond. Our city council and former member Kniss have no idea about fiscal responsibility and Simitian is too busy lecturing us and trying to pass social engineering legislation.

Digressing a bit, if you want to read how things happen in our city, read today's Diana Diamond column in the Daily Post. There is an interesting discussion about the Architectural Review Board and the former Hyatt site (unfortunately there is no online site to link to).

After all that, I am more convinced than ever to vote against the bond


 +   Like this comment
Posted by YES!
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 8, 2008 at 4:00 pm

I want a library system my kids can use and be proud of. I'm tired on no room for more books, and dilapidated buildings that haven't been repaired for almost 5 decades!

Anyone who uses a library system in neighboring communities, and is willing to sit by and watch our libraries deteriorate for another 5 years until we get to float another bond, will never convince me that they support libraries. Especially if that person was against the last library bond.

I think what we have here are one or two libertarians who are using multiple names to talk down our library.

Vote YES on Measure N; it's a far better solution that the non-solutions and whining that I see coming from the usual suspects above.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 8, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Yes, it's not so good when your main argument is just putting down your opponent. You like the bond, ok - but many others do not, not just the few you imagine.

The main argument I've seen is that we are wildly over spending on the building compared to others, and helping perpetuate the 5 branch system which is antiquated and inefficient. I have 3 kids and am sad about our libraries too - but not enough to over spend on the wrong approach. That doesn't do us good in the long run, and I'm not in it for the short run.

I expect I'll vote no, for the many reasons above. Hopefully enough of us can stand up to this bad bond and insist on something better.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Perhaps I'm just a tad confused; but, here goes:

A number of the posts found above in support of the bond -- while attributed to different authors living in different parts of Palo Alto -- appear to possess remarkably similar grammar, syntax, word choice, or punctuation (or some combination of most or all of same).

Could several or most -- or, perhaps, nearly all -- of such forum posts originate, instead, from one single author?

Does the Weekly screen out such single authors writing under several names?; or no?
_____

On a related matter, where is the author -- a resident of College Terrace, I believe -- who wrote a number of prior posts on prior PA Weekly forums in support of the bond measure?; his strident missives in favor of the bond were quite memorable, indeed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2008 at 5:32 pm

If the bond fails, perhaps the City Council should think quite hard about dissolving the Library Commission.

Faced with another bond failure, perhaps the City should consider the following: perhaps the best solution lies in adoption of measures and techniques used to build new libraries -- or renovate existing libraries -- in other neighboring cities; perhaps the City should forgo a unique 'Palo Alto solution'.

As a prelude to the November vote, perhaps it is time to contemplate the following questions:

Has the Library Commission functioned well?;

Did it arrive at a bond measure worthy of public vote?;

Did it find a solution which is 'winnable' at the ballot box?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 8, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Interesting points, JA+. After the first polling in February, FMMA stated the following points:

"David Metz, senior vice-president of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, & Associates, which conducted the poll, explained that a successful bond measure generally garners at least 70% support during polling and then loses a few points by election time. He noted that 65% of Palo Alto voters in fact favored a $60 million library measure in an October 2001 poll but then only 62% voted for the $49 million Measure D the following year."

"A second rule of thumb Metz offered is that at least 40% of those polled must express a definite intent to support a measure for it to later succeed."

From the subsequent survey in July this year, neither of these criteria were met but the council tried to paint lipstick on it when they voted the bond onto the ballot.

It still may pass, they are pulling out all the stops in mis-informing everyone. Selectively quoting from the audit and glossing over the waste in the current system. There's also the $1.5Mil in library designs that has already been spent that no-one seems to be mentioning.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by It's not the LAC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2008 at 5:51 pm

The LAC should have had the opportunity to study the suggestion by Paula Simpson (the previous library director)of a single branch, a three-branch option (Main, MP and Children's), and the current five-branch system. But don't blame the library commission (LAC). Their hands were tied by the previous city council (in particular...well they'll remain nameless) which essentially told them they could not explore any options which involved closing branches. So who didn't function, the city council.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2008 at 5:51 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Supportin' Measure N
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 8, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I'm supportin' Measure N, yesirree!! These dad gum opponents of the bond want to send us all back to the farm, without a library,


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Let's be fair
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2008 at 6:09 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Library supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2008 at 6:18 pm

I really do support libraries and do use mainly Mitchell Park but occasionally Main. My kids are now grown too old for Children's, but have used it in the past.

I am for a bond, but not this bond. I have a serious suggestion. There is a third alternative to consider and that is absention. If you go to vote leave the library bond empty, or some other method of spoiling. That would send a message in itself. If enough voters abstained from voting on the bond then there would be a real message of discontent which a no vote would not show.

We are not voting in support of branches which is a shame. The wording of the bond does not allow any vote on what the voter really wants. Voting in favor of the bond is the only way of supporting anything and voting no does not mean no to branches only no to getting on with any improvements. A third alternative is necessary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 8, 2008 at 9:02 pm

If you are against the bond, you should not abstain, you should vote no.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Per capita costs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Comparing Palo Alto and Mountain View statistics, it was reported that the square footage and circulation numbers were about the same, but that Palo Alto was much higher "per capita" than Mountain View. Consider also that Mountain View's population is somewhat larger than Palo Alto's.

It is unfortunate that a 2/3 vote is needed to pass a bond issue. Proposition 13 itself didn't even garner a 2/3 vote.

See Web Link for the Sacbee's analysis of Prop. 13 30 years later.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by FACTS
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 9, 2008 at 12:00 am

About per capita costs:

Spending per capita Library Spending Per Capita FY 2005-06, with per capita efficiency ratings for each city based on cumulative library hour service return for per capita investment (i.e. per capita spend[PCS]] **divided by**cumulative service hour [CSH]. PLease note that *the lower the number, the higher the library staff efficiency in terms of total amount of service hour delivery accomplished*)

Palo Alto's $97.01 per capita spend results in 238 cumulative service hours at 5 branches per week PCS/CSH = .41

Santa Clara $57.70 per capita results in 73 hours of cumulative service hours at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .78

Mountain View's $55.19 results in 56 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .98

Menlo Park $61.68 per capita results in 57 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week PCS/CSH = .92

Sunnyvale $49.97 per capita results in 57 cumulative service hours of library services at one branch per week. PCS/CSH = .88

By this reckoning, Palo Alto library staff is 2-2.5 times *more* efficient than its municipal neighbors.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 9, 2008 at 1:07 am

That "per hour" analysis is just silly and I expect everyone sees right through it. We spend twice as much - period. We have redundant services in redundant branches. Our collection and services are spread across multiple facilities. We have to maintain and staff multiple buildings.

You could argue that it might be worth all the extra cost (Diane J. sidles up to that but doesn't say it - I expect she'd love to close some or all branches), but saying PA is more efficient than other towns is just ridiculous. We spend more per citizen for libraries that are much less good. Deal with it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2008 at 8:18 am

Let's take a quick unscientific survey:

A. Bond as proposed with new MP and renovations to each site
B. Bond to build expanded MP and shut down all the other sites
C. Bond to build expanded MP and leave other sites open but unrenovated
D. No bond, leave everything alone.

Pick one, rank them or add more choices.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:51 am

"Per capita costs",

The square footage difference between Mountain View & Palo Alto is about the same as the population difference between the two cities. You can't offset the blame there.

I'm using the audit values for Palo Alto's square footage since that's the source used for the per-capita values.

Mountain View Library
Square footage: 60,000

Palo Alto Libraries
Total Square footage: 51,435


Also, any difference in population doesn't explain why we need twice as many full time library employees per 1000 cardholders compared to neighboring cities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2008 at 5:58 am

I read in the Daily Post yesterday that over 200 city 'management' employees are getting 'bonus checks" for from 8% to 20% - this determined by the Director of Human Services and approved by Benest before he left. Doesn't the City Council have a say in this? The library bond just lost my vote. Just air condition Main Libraries and Mitchell and we don't need a student activity center at Mitchell or study halls either place.. That's what our schools are for. The high schools have libraries. Keep them open after school!! Main is a 'zoo' after school anyway.


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