SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


A New Public Library or Castle on the Hill?
By Robert D. Warner


January 12, 2008
Saturday AM

Dear Sitnews Editor:

There have been several excellent SitNews letters recently critizing the decision to build a new public library at Ketchikan's old Main School site. Who made this decision to move the library rather than the museum? The public needs clear and professional economic analysis of possible locations for the library and for the museum. Why haven't citizens been given such basic essential information to consider? They are entitled to full information to verify whether it is the museum or the library that should move from the Centennial Building. Have we actually reached the time when a move is necessary?

The old Main School site is likely the most isolated and hard to reach area downtown. There are few places to park in the area and the spaces available are in high demand by citizens needing access to the State Office Building, Police Station, etc. The steep terrain is dangerous to walk or drive during the winter months. There is no public bus service to the site. Would the museum consider it logical to move to this hilltop?

Is the current library director capable of providing the community with careful, honest, and complete professional cost analysis? Why has this director failed to consider and analyze the assets of the current location? What justifies this drive to build a castle on top of this hill? What data analysis of primary purpose and economics has been prepared and presented to the public for their evaluation? What are the cost differences between moving the library versus moving the museum from the Centennial Building to a new site?

From what I can determine, it would be far less costly to remodel the Centennial Building to be a library than rebuild it for a museum. We need to know honest cost estimates for each: The library project and the museum project. The bottom line is that we are not going to have one without the other. Who is going to pay? What were the cost estimates for each of the sites that were considered? Will both borough and city residents be taxed for these costs?

When we as taxpayers pay a library administrator over $70,000 per year, we are entitle to clear and realistic professional cost estimates and evaluations for all of these alternatives, including the alternative of doing nothing. Where are they? If this director is not capable of providing this essential information to the public, the city should hire a library director who can!

With many questions and few answers, I believe it is time for citizens to learn facts about these issues before any additional steps are taken.

Robert D. Warner
Ketchikan, AK

Received January 10, 2008 - Published January 12, 2008

About: Bob Warner has 30 years of experience working in several types of libraries including military, public, college, and university libraries.



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