Guest Opinion: 21st century libraries are good investment
Original post made
on Jun 11, 2008
In an earlier opinion piece on the November library bond, Diana Diamond argued that we should cut the proposed bond measure by as much as one-third in the hope that the lower amount might more easily gain voter approval.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 12:00 AM
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2008 at 9:25 am
1) to: "money, money, money", As usual, numbers alone don't tell the whole story. In fact, given our patron visit numbers, and the fact that we have many convenient branches (unlike the other libraries you list) that serve thousands of school kids, daily - in addition to many more thousands of commuters - there is no comparison in cost *efficiency*, and community value gained. Like Mr. Beecham said, this is a great value.
2) to: "no on library bond", In fact, Mr. Beecham presided over Council at onf of the most difficult times in Palo Alto's history, helping to leave Palo Alto with the highest municipal credit rating in the region, and overwhelmingly satisfied residents (as shown nin multiple audits, taken by our award-winning auditor).
3) to: "Resident", In fact, since the onset of the Internet, library circulation and visits have *increased*. Like most institutions, libraries are evolving. You're partially correct in the assertion that library use patterns are shifting, but are missing the fact that many more library services exist today than in years past, and that libraries - in addition to their continued high use as information centers - actually provide *more* services than they did in the past.
In all, Palo Alto's library system delivers the following:
A) outstanding value; it's highly integrated with PAUSD, with plans to do more. Thus, our library increases the value of our local real estate, as school quality is directly related to the value of local real estate. Studies have *universally* shown that there is a positive return on tax dollar investment in public libraries - branch and single library systems, alike. Palo Alto is no different
B) Planned future integration with community recreation services, as our public library takes on the additional task of becoming an information/cultural center - a "third place" - for youth, seniors (soon to be almost 40% of our population); businesses, schools, independent learners, and so on. Imagine what our city would be like without our wonderful library system. We would lose many of the distributed benefits of such a system. As it is, our branch system saves many, many thousands of automobile trips, every year. That alone - in terms of a *real* carbon loading savings to the environment, creates yet *another* value point.
Lastly, those who think that the Internet has replaced the value of public libraries, should think again. The British Library just finished a study showing that the INternet generation is seriously lacking in deep research and synthesis skills, in favor of skimming information. With this development in knowledge, it seems that libraries and other venues that provide opportunities to go deeper into knowledge, with more meaning, in an increasing socially and culturally aware populace, present an unparalleled public institution *opportunity* to increase the public good, as libraries integrate with and scale with technology.
Palo Alto's library bond is the best deal around. The value is there, and continues to grow. To throw this asset away for fear of a $10 additional per month investment (in community, kids, real estate values, integrated institutional savings, etc. etc.) would be tantamount to a public crime. Where else do your public dollars deliver the kind of value spoken to above, and more?
"YES" on the library bond.
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 23, 2008 at 11:11 am
Me Too says "since the LA, while really not very fancy, is head and shoulders above the PA libraries."
Who says? Where are the Los Altos Branches? What part of Los Altos circulation is due to Palo Altans borrowing? Don't forget, Los Altos is *practically* a Palo Alto branch, with heavy exposure to the entire southern part of Palo Alto, and close proximity to Gunn. Los Altos has had *investments* made in its infrastructure; Palo Alto hasn't.
So, here we go again, a library bond naysayer, picking out a few numbers, and trying to build a general case on a house of cards.
It's pretty pathetic to be comparing the capital costs of a *single*, *small* county library - a library that experiences a LOT of circulation from Palo Altans, **because naysayers kept the Palo Alto library from repairing itself in 2002, when they, as a minority, defeated the majority wish in Palo Alto to pass Measure D (another, cheaper bond).
So, we have the VERY SAME people, the usual suspects, who kept Measure D from passing, with Measure D (at the time) FAR less expensive than the current bond (with construction inflation the major reason for the increase in cost), wanting to use the problem that THEY CAUSED (by defeating Measure D, and keeping our library from repair) to whine about the *admittedly poor condition (as shown in our library audit) of the current library, and blame the city for mismanagement.
Let's not forget that the very same naysayers here who are arguing for a defeat of the library bond, and who complain about the Palo Alto library, are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the current condition of our library, because it was THEY who were primary players in defeating (with a MINORITY VOTE) Measure D (the library bond) in 2002.
I have brought this aspect to the bond issue up MANY times. It's going to get a LOT of play as we move toward November, because the 100-or-so individuals who are fanatically opposed to spending money on libraries (even though many of them are HEAVY users of the library) are the VERY citizens who are responsible for the current state of palo Alto's libraries.
These citizens want it both ways. They want Palo Alto not to spend any money on decaying infrastructure (libraries, police buildings, schools, eetc. etc.) and when they have - as in the past - defeat the revenue building attempts to repair that infrastructure, they then follow on with how inefficiently run everything is, and "why shuold we pass a bond for blah, blah, blah".
Theirs is nothing more than fiscal hypocrisy present in their puny arguments. On the one hand they say libraries (and other infrastructure) is poorly managed and that our city is irresponsible in management, THEN they do everything they can to defeat the very revenue bonds we need to repair things. Their attempts are patently transparent, and will NO LONGER WORK. I can't WAIT to BURY this aspect of Grinchdom in Palo Alto politics, once and for all, come November.
There is a difference between measured complaints about any city's management, and the kind of extreme naysaying that this viral crowd has insinuated into Palo Alto politics, with the defeat of Measure D some years ago.
There is a kind of perverse pride taken by certain naysayers in Palo Alto, who snicker at dedicated citizens and the hard-working efforts of city employees.
Normally, the extremists that are at the center of efforts to defeat the library and school bonds are relegated to the periphery of most community's political efforts, but somehow this crowd has managed to infect our city - with the help of C-level journalism from people like Diana Diamond and Dave Price's pathetic ad rags, to generate just enough votes (in the past) to defeat what the VAST majority of Palo Altans want.
So, moving on to this November, Palo Alto citizens will use many tactics to diffuse the naysayers; we're going to bury them at the polls, and trounce them into political oblivion.
Palo Altans want their library repaired, and they want to keep their branches (which, btw, Los Altans use a LOT).
It almmost makes me laugh to think that "me too" could even begin to compare the Los Altos library to our great branch system. Hey, me too, try walking to the Los Altos branch from Downtown Palo Alto, or would you rather use your polluting car to get there? I think we all know the answer.