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PA Libraries now download books to Kindles, why do we need 5 libraries?

Original post made by Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011

It is official. Web Link

This is now!

We have not finished Mitchell Park library and we haven't started Main and now libraries will soon be defunct.

Remind us again why we have 5 libraries to walk to which no one will use.

Community centers are going to be required, but not rooms full of books duplicated in 5 centers all over town.

Anyone who voted for this must be hanging their heads in shame.

Comments (36)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

On top of this, the number of times the books I have checked out have been so dirty, people read while eating and drinking and the books are not well looked after any more. Library books used to be respected and kept clean, that is no longer the case.


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Posted by WhatAreKindles?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 28, 2011 at 11:16 am

I know what Kindles are. But I have no interest. Nor do many other people. So I see a lot of value in good old fashioned, hard-copy books. But I would have to agree that a lot people these days simply do not respect books as we used to. Libraries in this area provide a lot more than just books, by the way...They have videos of all sorts of movies, TV shows, educational productions. Also a huge assortment of magazines and newspapers. And lots of special activities for kids and adults of all ages. The libraries are secondary community centers. I am very much in favor of spending some of our tax dollars on them. I think the people who are against it haven't spent enough time at the library.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2011 at 11:34 am

Libraries have turned into internet cafes for many people. The amount of square footage devoted to books is excessive and will become even more as time goes on. I would venture to say that many of the people who so strongly supported the multiple branches are older people who will not embrace ebooks.

The real estate (and $$$$$$$$$$$$$) devoted to our multi-library system could be utilized far better.


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Posted by About $$$$
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Among the $$$$$$$$$$ being spent are an additional 4 MILLION $$$$$ added last week because Group4 had mistakes in its specifications for Mitchell Park.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm

"why do we need 5 libraries?"
We do not. But the voters drank the kool aid that was being served up -so we will have 5 libraries.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

For some reason my post above has been edited (without even an acknowledgement that it was edited)
The voters drank the kool aid that was being served up by Megan Swezey Fogarty and the FOPAL gang (that is a fact--you can see all the names on this link: Web Link).
Of course maybe the Weekly is a bit worried since they also supported this bond and the 5 libraries. Now that they are becoming out of date....


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Here is a link to the informational video

Web Link

It is worth noting that this system can be used for text books too so PAUSD should be using these soon. Since I am told that our schools are always short of text books, particularly since they have double quantities to enable students to keep one at home and still have one in the classroom, this should be a cheaper option for our schools.


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Posted by not good enough
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

There are only 2032 books available for Kindle through OverDrive. What's the chance they have the book you want?


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Posted by Over 70 & a Kindle lover
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm

PALO ALTO

From the discussions on this website, PA appears to be the community that goes after libraries, teachers, firefighters, police -- today it added vegetable gardens seen from the street.

Bizarre....and I'm not even getting into the strange, extremely hostile, political notes on these pages.

Some citizens even write to say that "outsiders" should be banned from the public discussion pages of this website. Face it, the hostility is coming from residents (they identify their neighborhoods) not outsiders.

What a hostile place PA seems to be.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

It is time to rethink the whole library concept - and while I, at 79, don't yet have a Kindle, I am looking favorable at the cheaper E-books. I suspect PA could make inexpensive E-books available for all comers. Mitchel Park would make a great police headquarters. The Main library would make a great City Hall, and the Hamilton building; perhaps a New Sears.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

We don't! It is really time to enjoy the new library and close 2 to 3 of the other ones and sell off the land.


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:12 am

We don't need an airport, but we certainly need libraries. In a nation of ignoramuses, libraries are a wonderful source of knowledge and enlightenment. I am computer savvy but will never read a digital book, nor would my kids. The libraries are a great place for kids and adult. The people who hate libraries are almost uniformly right wing, which makes perfect sense, since the right wing is hostile to both knowledge and any communal effort.


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Posted by Move-Aside-Mr.-Guttenberg
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:42 am

> Libraries have turned into internet cafes for many people.

At one point, the Palo Alto Library estimated that about 40% of the patronage/visitation was for "free" Internet access. This is a hard number to determine reliably, but it's not hard to count heads that are staring into a laptop, or people sitting in front of a fixed-station PC, and certainly the 40% number is not all that inaccurate.

Estimating costs for providing these sorts of services might be a little difficult, but when building a new library, the costs/sq foot become fairly clear. Take for instance the cost of putting PCs in a fixed-station work room. At $1000/sq. ft., a 75 ft. by 75 ft room costs about $5.6M to build ($4.2M at $750/sq. ft.). This room will only hold so many people (maybe 225, at best), and then there are the costs for PCs, furniture, etc, as well as the cost of providing librarians who must stand around watching people use the PCs. This labor cost becomes very expensive, when the cost of operating the libraries is about $7M a year. (Google outfitted Mountain View with a city-wide WiFi for less than $1M.)

For this same $4M-$6M (and more when labor costs are considered), a wireless Internet could be installed that services all of Palo Alto (with a lot of money left over).

This use of public funds to provide "free" Internet at a library site is almost criminal. The city-wide wireless network would be available to public safety, City employees, and everyone with a personal Internet access device--such as most e-book readers, and increasing number of cell phones, and tablet PCs.

This "new" library will end up being a massive waste of public funds, that will only service a handful of people, who are too cheap to buy a $100 personal Internet device. As the costs continue to come down, we are seeing a number of sub-$100 devices on the market. People complaining that while living in Palo Alto, they are "too poor" to buy one of these devices could well be provided one on permanent loan, so that they could not complain about being "left behind" in the 1950s as the digital revolution marches on into the future.

If people only took the time to think about the costs, they would be appalled at the decisions that have taken place in this town--which most certainly includes building this unneeded facility.


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Posted by Over 70 & a Kindle lover
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:38 am

The new Mitchell Park Library/Community Center will be used for something in the future even if it's not a library.

What is a waste of money is the $6 Million plus we spend on rent for the 21 acres owned by the School District at the Cubberley Community Center. The non-profits don't come close to reimbursing Palo Alto for the money we put out for that decaying eyesore.

Now is the time to return the 21 acres the School District owns and leases to the City, back to the PAUSD. And, it's time the School District announced their long term plans for the Cubberley site.


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Posted by lynne
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:33 am

I would like to make a comment I have just recently asked to become a volunteer an my specialist is in repairing books which means cleaning as well , i was told they no longer do this as it costs too much an that they just buy new books.
Too me if you can clean or fix a book why not instead of buying new ones.
As for those of you that read kindle well I have seen studies that say that reading on electronic devices is bad for your eyes.
No wonder in this day an age our eyes are getting worse.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I have tried to get e-books from the library, but they have very few titles and very few copies available. Every one I wanted had a waiting list 20-30 long. It appears that demand is far outstripping supply at this point, and the library needs to make some major adjustments before e-books become practical for most people. I like them because I can travel for a week or two at a time without having to load myself down with many pounds of paper.


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Posted by Heres why !!!
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

We need 5 libraries especially the newer ones because when we have an earthquake we won't have a police department so they will need somewhere to work from.


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Replacing physical books with digital reading devices would be a terrible tragedy all around, and a further acceleration of our society's drive toward imbecility and and vacuousness. That's all we need, more screen time. I find it hilarious that the same people who are so horrified at the "horrible" waste of public money, are not horrified at all at the real horrible waste of public on that playground for the rich, aka The Palo Alto Airport, or at the tens, perhaps hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars which disappeared through unprecedented corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the trillions wasted there.


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Posted by Happy reader
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

It's about community. The library is one of the few places where people of all ages and socioeconomic levels get together, each having a need met.

Today, I needed to find designs for stained glass, and I found it at the library.

Libraries make memories for toddlers to people in their 90's! Support our libraries!!

Options are terrific. But you can't make memories from a Kindle.


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Posted by Mr. Library
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

"Among the $$$$$$$$$$ being spent are an additional 4 MILLION $$$$$ added last week because Group4 had mistakes in its specifications for Mitchell Park."

But it's still under budget.

AND, *Mitchell Park going to be built*

AND we have 5 libraries that provide easy access to a distributed after-school population

AND library use continues to climb in the digital age

AND Palo Altans like to walk to a destination, if possible

AND if I drop a paperback book it doesn't break AND my paper book doesn't run out of batteries

AND I don't have to replace my paper book every 3-4 years because "it won't read the 'xyz' file anymore"

AND we love the idea of libraries doubling up as community centers

AND we know that librarians are helpful filters and finders of the information we need, offering suggestions for search and discovery

AND we are proud of our library system, as a community-built and owned enterprise

AND libraries pay back a positive ROI on investment according to more than three dozen studies carried out over the last decade

So, get used to the idea; just sit back and enjoy complaining about Mitchell Park or one of the other libraries from the comfort of your local library; it's an easy bike ride or walk.

Looking forward to more of your whining, soon.

Mr. Library


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Posted by Right-As-Rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm

> The people who hate libraries are almost uniformly right wing

People who would publicly say such stupid things are likely to:

1) Have no idea what has been going on in the Silicon Valley for the past four decades.
2) Believe that the taxpayers should be responsible for his/her entertainment costs.
3) Probably has never served in the US Military, or served his/her country in any meaningful way.
4) Pay very little in property taxes, and possibly nothing in income taxes.
5) May well not be gainfully employed.
6) Believe in "big government"
7) Have no idea that the Internet is open 7/24/365, while libraries are generally open less than 30 percent of the year.
8) Have no idea that there are millions of books, newpapers, magazines, and videos on-line, that can be downloaded to a PC/Laptop/Kindle in a matter of seconds, at little/no cost to the taxpayers.
9) Not realize that most brick-and-mortar libraries hold between 100,000 and 300,000 holdings—whereas the Internet can hold all of the books/magazines that were ever printed, or will be ever printed.
10) Have ever used any of the materials in the Reference section of the library.
11) Be a heavy user of "videos" and a heavy visitor to the fiction section.
12) Never have read a city, or library, budget.
13) Not be capable of anything remotely like "critical thinking".

If this poster is like most library lovers, then it's not hard to come to the opinion that libraries are little more than sinkholes for public dollars, and act as a magnet for people with closed minds, little adaptability and very likely low personal achievement.


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Right-As-Rain, amazingly, you were wrong in every single one of your 13 surmises. I didn't think it was possible for anybody to be wrong on 13 assumptions without getting even one right, but then I remembered that you hate libraries.


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Posted by Wha?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

Web Link

eBooks are the way of the future, but that doesn't mean we should do away with public libraries which help the LESS FORTUNATE keep in touch in an Internet based world, just as they did in the paper based world. For example, many government documents are only available digitally now, making internet access for all an essential part of democracy. Just offering wireless in the community doesn't help those without a computer.

For the more fortunate, we offer a great place to borrow materials that you may not want to buy, attend free programs for all ages, and have a sense of community that being online at home does not accomplish.


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Posted by book lover
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:45 am

Ah, Daniel, you only confirm Right as Rain's point about "people with closed minds."

1. Resorting to "right wing" labels for your opponents just shows the weakness of your argument.

2. People who are opposed to FIVE libraries are not necessarily right-wing. I'm opposed to five libraries and I consider myself to be pretty left of center.

3. People who are opposed to FIVE libraries are not opposed to libraries in general.

4. People who are in favor of Kindles do not necessarily want to get rid of all print materials.

5. Finally, you put the icing on your "not thinking clearly" cake when you bring up those tired old studies claiming that "libraries pay back a positive ROI on investment according to more than three dozen studies carried out over the last decade." They have been debunked numerous times in these forums.

BTW, how much would you be willing to bet that your kids "will never read a digital book"?


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I have no problem with people who want to read books digitally. I have a problem with those who claim that because books can be read digitally, and because research can be done on the Internet, public libraries are obsolete and we need to get rid of them. Notice also that the same people don't claim that because the Palo Alto airport benefits only a few, mostly wealthy non-residents, and is kept alive only because of the tax paying public who has been subsidizing it for many decades, the airport needs to shut down. They are not bothered by bonanzas for the rich, only by communal efforts. Public libraries have always more than just a place to borrow reading materials and dvd's. Those who don't understand that will never be convinced that they are not obsolete. With some exceptions, right wing people are ideology opposed to any communal enterprises, therefore they are generally opposed to public libraries. I have yet to meet a right wing person who doesn't want to do away with communal enterprises that benefit all. The fact that some who don't identify themselves as right wing oppose public libraries is the exception to the rule.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Daniel - you are missing out point, many of us love libraries and are not opposed to them at all. What we are opposed to is FIVE libraries. It is a ridiculous waste of $$


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Posted by book lover
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

"It's about community. The library is one of the few places where people of all ages and socioeconomic levels get together, each having a need met."

In this tough economy, should our taxes be spent on places for people to get together? What happened to homes, churches, coffee shops?

Before the library bond was passed, the per square foot building costs at Mitchell, Main and Downtown were estimated $1,022, $748 and $422 respectively. And that doesn't include furnishings, utilities, upkeep, etc.

Plans included
- a group study room and a program room for 60 in the Downtown branch.
- 4 group study rooms and a program room for 100 at Main
- 4 group study rooms and a program room for 60 at Mitchell Park

And then there's the cafe at Mitchell Park.

As palo alto mom points out, "The real estate (and $$$$$$$$$$$$$) devoted to our multi-library system could be utilized far better."


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

As the person who started this thread, I would like to say that I love libraries, love books and don't want to do away with them.

I use the library all the time, but I rarely speak to anyone there. When our kids were small we did use some of the programs but you don't need to have a library for them.

I put holds on books and wait for an email to say that they are ready for me to collect. I go the library, pick up my books on the hold shelf, go to the self checkout machine and leave. I get an email reminding me when the books are due and usually drop them off outside the library because it is closed.

We don't need 5 libraries for this, we need community centers with checkout facilities.

As Kindles and ebooks popularity and ease soar, it will be even less likely that we need 5 fully fledged libraries stacked with duplicate materials.

I have used the library to check email when I was having internet problems at home and I had to wait for ages to find a computer that was free to do this.

Libraries as we know them are not going to be needed more and more. What we do need is community centers with internet facilities and possibly someone to help those with few computer skills to register online for various things. We don't need rows and rows of books in aisles for us to peruse.


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm

"We don't need rows and rows of books in aisles for us to peruse."
Many, including many children, want to read real books, not stare at a screen while reading. If you want to read books digitally or online, you are welcome to it, but don't force the entire community to do the same. Public libraries are not only a stimulant for reading, real reading, not screen watching disguised as reading, but highly important community centers in which increasingly alienated and isolated communities preserve their humanity. Each of the 5 libraries have unique characteristic that depict their particular neighborhood. It's what makes Palo Alto special and unique in an increasingly dreary and hopeless American society. Nothing is as wonderful as seeing a 90 year old senior or a young child walking to their neighborhood library branch. With the libraries, palo Alto will have no soul.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Daniel - Kids are primary users of actual books (I don't remember the stats, but they were pretty significant) and we have a wonderful Children's Library and are building a great library in south PA at Mitchell Park.

You seriously underestimate the people of Palo Alto if you think that without being able to walk to a library, Palo Alto would "have no soul".

I'm not advocating using only ebooks, but most of the people I know are reflective of the Resident who started this thread, they go online, reserve books, get an email when it is in the library, pick it up, drop it in the drop box when done. Probably 3 minutes spent in the actual library. I frequently also will pick up a book "from the stacks" and the only other person in those aisles is typically a library volunteer/employee shelving or pulling books. Every other person in the library is on a computer, picking up a book or in the periodical room (which seems to be very well frequented, much more than the book stacks).

We absolutely do NOT need so much valuable real estate dedicated to collections (redundant) of books.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2011 at 7:05 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

How about this?
Halt all library work NOW!
Divert all library funding to city wide WIFI.
Move city functions into libraries and divest of leased properties.


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Posted by Not really
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm

There was an interesting article about libraries in the SF Chronicle today: Web Link .

I know San Francisco is not Palo Alto, but still--it proves that there is still a market for physical libraries. Those who do not realize that clearly are not patrons.


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Posted by Library Scale
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2011 at 7:25 pm

That's all well and good, but do they have
60 libraries (scaling from 55K pop to 800k pop)?


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Posted by Success?
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm

As I read this article, the success is in fundraising, and there is a bunch of tooting of the libraries horn.

The only objective success measure I recall is that:

"Visits, circulated materials and registrations have, on average, at least doubled at buildings within six months of reopening, according to spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers."

How successful is that, actually?






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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2011 at 9:44 am

Just looked at my recent Property Tax bill. The library bond is so cleverly hidden in there, I can't find how much I am paying. This is disgraceful.


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