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Calling all Library Supporters! Fill the City Council Chambers on Monday Night!

Original post made by Lynne, South of Midtown, on Nov 28, 2006

Friends and Neighbors,

We need your help!

If you support the Library Advisory Commission's plan to renovate and revitalize the branches while building a new facility at Mitchell Park and you're ready for the City Council to move that agenda forward, please join us at the City Council meeting on Monday, December 4th, at 7:00pm, when we will fill the chambers with library supporters. The LAC will present their plans to build an expanded Mitchell Park Library, and in general, to better serve the growing Palo Alto population with improved facilities, expanded collections, programming, and technology.

This is the night for the public to comment on how important the library is to us and how inadequate it is for our growing population and needs. It is especially important for patrons of the Mitchell Park Library - from across the Palo Alto community - to stand up and be counted.

A common message we get from the City Council is that they never hear from families, or more generally, from the "silent majority." Let's prove them wrong! Mark your calendar, bring the whole family, and get a friend to join you.

We will have special stickers that night to identify library supporters.

If you haven't yet signed the petition, please do so:

Web Link

We hope to see you on the 4th!

Comments (17)

Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 28, 2006 at 7:06 pm

The commission and the library zealots are out in the cornfield. We need one big, modern central libray just like most other communities -- e.g. Mountain View. The voters will never approve the Mitchell Park boondoggle.

Posted by Anna
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2006 at 7:12 pm

I'll be there!! I've been watching the library effort. It's been a lot of work, and some great solutions to our library problem have been put forward by the LAC, with tons of input from our community, library staff, PAUSD, and others. I'm gonna get loud for our library!! Yea!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Anna
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2006 at 7:16 pm

btw, here's a nice piece in today's Weekly about our library, and its march forward. I can't wait to see Palo Alto have a great new facility at Mitchell that will actually help the entire system improve. Wow! Let's get loud!

Web Link

Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 29, 2006 at 10:09 am

I am on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and we had a chance to participate in the work of the Library folks and see a presentation at our meeting last month. At our Commission meeting last night, we had a presentation about the Baby Boomers, and their impact on our community as we (I include myself as a Boomer) age and continue to live in Palo Alto.

The types of services that a library and a community center provide are very high on the list of what boomers are seeking as they plan this next phase of their lives. This is a great opportunity to develop a library and community center that is forward thinking in light of the demographics that Palo Alto will have in the coming years.

I bring this to people's attention in the hope that we view these types of facilities using a lens that may be a bit different than our conventional view of libraries and community centers.

Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2006 at 10:48 am

I agree that those in favour of library improvements should make their voice heard. The problem is that we have too many voices saying different things. So to get things in perspective, how are the different angles going to be represented? Are we going to have those who want a multi library minimum service brigade plus a one (or two + childrens) 21st century state of the art facility group all intermingling and shouting each other down. Do we group up beforehand and take sides? Is it going to be a contest of who can make the most noise wins?

I ask these questions because if the various threads that have been in this Forum shows that there is no consensus and since there are many who seem to have exclusive views and are not afraid of making them heard as well as those who just want improvements of any kind to happen in the forseeable future all with strong views and loud voices. There is mention of bringing families along too, and if some young children are present do we want them to see adults arguing with each other. For my family, it is very difficult with sport and homework schedules to spend an evening (I have no idea how long this sort of thing could take) doing something as valuable as this could potentially be without it being a serious waste of time plus a lesson on how badly the organisation of something as universal as a library modernisation scheme can be.

Please can someone try and put both sides of the argument in different places and everyone behave rationally. This way we may get something done without it becoming another Palo Alto mess.

Posted by Library Advocate
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Come see the LAC plan -- it is exciting and a great vision for our Library system. It builds up two strong libraries while continuing to support distributed services especially for those who cannot make it to the library. The most exciting aspects are expanded volunteers and partnerships, refreshed collections, technology planning, and the possiblity of a new joint-use facility at Mitchell Park. This facility could help build the future of community services -- especially for baby boomers -- and a much deserved civic landmark and City Gateway for South Palo Alto. Come hear about the plans on Monday Dec. 4th - 7:00 in the Council Chambers.

Posted by library and tennis supporter
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 2, 2006 at 5:22 pm

And please note - the tennis courts ARE PRESERVED in the plan being presented to council.

Better community center, esp. for the teens who use it the most, better library services for overcrowded south P.A. and the park and tennis courts preserved. Win/win/win!!!

All you kids who are sitting on the floor of the library afternoons after school - come make your voice heard at city hall Monday!

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2006 at 9:24 pm

My biggest concern is the cost. Friday's Weekly tells us the estimates are already being changed. John Stucky of the LAC says,
"They're only estimates and they have nothing to do with reality right now because we haven't even determined yet what's going to happen at Mitchell Park."

Web Link

How can anyone get behind ANY plan without knowing what the cost will be? Without details and price, it's all just wishful thinking.

Also check out "Library Costs are not Adding Up" at:
Web Link

Posted by Diana Diamond
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2006 at 11:18 pm

I suggest you do look at my blog β€” Web Link β€” because I am concerned about the costs. I do support a new library -- Mitchell is overcrowded and the Main Library feels old.

But San Jose is doing their libraries for one-quarter or one-third the cost! Something is wrong with Palo Alto's LAC figures.

Diana Diamond

Posted by B Allyn
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 2, 2006 at 11:26 pm

The Council will be having a study session on the LACSMR (lib.) report at 6:00-7:00 Monday eve., Dec. 4. They will then have a
presentation from Group Four, the designers of the 3 plans,
later on the CC agenda. It is important to remember that this is
just the first step with these plans. There will be a public polling
once all have had an opportunity to view the plans & costs. And
an audit of the library operations will be out this spring for more
information. A great deal of work has gone into this effort, so
let's be a little patient and get all the facts before judging.

Posted by Penny
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 3, 2006 at 12:31 am

This is the first step in a process. The architects will present several conceptual plans and very rough estimates of costs. Council must direct staff re: next steps. I hope expansion of Mitchell Park to create full-service facility will be a priority.


Posted by Diane Jennings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 3, 2006 at 2:06 am

I'm glad to see so much interest in Monday night's Council meeting on our City's Library. There will be two presentations: the first by Group 4 Architects on their library facility study; and the second by Sandy Hirsh, chair of the Library Advisory Commission, on the LAC's recommendations for the Library. Since there has been a bit of confusion about the time of these presentations, I'd like to be sure you have the correct information.

The presentation by Group 4 will be given at a Council study session that begins at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. Study sessions typically last about 1 hour, including Council discussion of presentations, but no definite time has been established to end the study session and continue with the regular meeting. The LAC's presentation will occur later after some typical Council business such as approval of minutes, special resolutions, and the consent calendar.

Knowing that some children plan to attend the meeting and may wish to speak, City staff will ask the Mayor to designate a time during the study seesion to hear from them.

You may wish to review the agenda for Monday's meeting at:

Web Link

The Library issue will also be on the Council agenda for Dec. 11.

Diane Jennings, Library Director

Posted by Chris
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 3, 2006 at 1:50 pm

A few years ago a vocal group of residents claiming to be representatives of the broader community filled the city council chambers with advocates for a community "need" - a need that uniquely reflected Palo Alto values. Children were used as sympathetic props in the presentations to the Council. This need also was articulated and supported by city staff members whose bureauctatic power would be enhanced by its satisfaction. The Council, paying no attention to costs, to analyses that said the need wasn't as urgent as the advocates claimed, or to warnings by a few naysayers of impending disaster. And so we ended up spending 6 million for a Homer Bicycle Tunnel that is now almost universally admitted to have been a costly mistake.

And they say that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2006 at 9:22 pm

I love the Homer tunnel! And so do the many hundreds of my fellow PAMF peers and patients who use it every day! Yea!! Homer Tunnel!!

I also love libraries, and have filled my kid's weekends and summers partially with local library programs for children. Yea!! Library!!

This is a great library plan and our citizens are going to love it! Let's get LOUD for libraries!

Posted by Lynne
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2006 at 9:56 am

The City Council meeting is TONIGHT! If you are in support of the Library Advisory Commission's plans to build an expanded Mitchell Park Library and upgrade all branches of Palo Alto's library, please plan to attend.

If you're not able to make it tonight's meeting, please share your opinion with the City Council by signing the petition at
Web Link

Posted by lenore jones
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 4, 2006 at 11:51 am

There are at least three glaring inaccuracies in today's Palo Alto Daily lead story about the LAC proposal.

The recommendation to poll the residents before any further action is the staff proposal, not the LAC's.

The LAC made 4 recommendations, all passed unanimously. About Mitchell Park, we recommend that the city move forward with the combined-use facility for an enhanced MP library recognizing the many advantages and opportunities of a joint use facility. We acknowledge that the library program can be accommodated in a new stand alone library but strongly urge the council to recognize the needs of the community and to plan for the future by endorsing the joint-use facility. (I don't know how this translates to "some commissioners reacted coolly to the idea of a combined use facility." This was a **unanimous** recommendation – something that has been rare in recent months of deliberations on the proposal.)

This facility is projected to cost between $31.5 and $44.0 million dollars. The numbers quoted in the article were from an early unreviewed draft estimate.

It is unfortunate that the Daily is using old numbers and misinformation when the correct information is readily available. Most of this is on the summary available at Web Link and in the council packet.

That being said, reading the comments on this Forum is encouraging. I hope to see a large turnout of support at tonight's meeting!

Posted by Chris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2006 at 10:29 am


You miss the point completely with your know-nothing cheer-leading. The point isn't whether one likes libraries or bicycle facilities. There is broad consensus in Palo Alto that these are things the city should provide.

The point is that the governmental and political processes are broken in a way that causes us to spend way too much money for projects that are less than ideal - to say the least.

In the case of the Homer tunnel, we spent almost $6 million - an amount that could have put a significant dent into our street repair backlog, for example - for an improvement so poorly conceived that the city was forced to jury-rig the traffic system at the exit of the tunnel to Alma. While those relatively few Palo Altans who use the tunnel - like you - may indeed appreciate it, it is duplicative of the University avenue tunnel only a few hundred feet away, and most people who've looked at it seriously think it was a a mistake to build given its cost and utility. (Former Mayor Gary Fazzino was quoted as saying it was the worst thing the city did in his years on the council.)

Similarly, no one disputes that "libraries" are good things for the city to have, and that we need some changes and improvements in what we have. The questions are 1) what sort of improvements and changes do we need - a point on which there are wide disparities of opinion, and 2) how much is it going to cost - which seems a legitimate question given past decision-making in Palo Alto and the fact that neighboring cities seem to build pretty nice library facilities for much less than is contemplated by Palo Alto.

You're probably among the 30 or so people who stood up and said "Yea Library" at the City Council and maybe one who used his child for political theater. But we need a much more serious debate before we can move ahead on libraries without worrying about a Homer Tunnel fiasco on a much larger scale. Maybe instead of "getting loud" for libraries, you and the other "Yea Library" zealots here could spend a little time in rational thought about just what kind of libraries we should have, and how we might pay for them.

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