SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Do We Really Need a New Public Library?
By Robert D. Warner


May 07, 2007
Monday PM

Dear Sitnews Editor:

I believe Ketchikan citizens would be much better served if the city hired a qualified library expert to draft a plan to remodel the Centennial Building for public library use. Judith Anglin's Sitnews letter of April 21, 2007 addressing the need for a new public library creates more questions than answers. Why does she think that the library should move from the Centennial Building rather than the museum? Can this be justified in terms of benefits and costs to taxpayers?

Ms. Anglin indicates that "the Centennial Building was not designed to be a library." However, according to a 2004 Sitnews article by June Allen, during the 1960's, Ketchikan's Centennial Committee chose to build a library/museum complex to celebrate the 1967 Centennial. While there is little dispute that both the library and museum can benefit from more space, a 10 minute walk through the Centennial Building clearly shows that the building was designed to fit the needs of a public library. It is actually somewhat similar to the famous Carnegie library layout which continues to be popular a hundred years or more after being developed.
Anglin claims that "due to the original design, retrofitting the Centennial Building into an efficient, handicapped-accessible library will not work." Why? What facts support this conclusion? While such a claim might be valid for the museum, it is a serious error to conclude that the building cannot be remodeled for the library at modest cost to taxpayers.

There is also reference to 300 people showing up for a library program. Does the current library administration prefer the luxury of not using other available local facilities already built with taxpayer money for that purpose, such as the civic center or the high school auditorium? Why should the public library sacrifice essential space needed for books, computers, and quiet study for a large meeting room for as many as 300?

The public must realize that this issue is not a single cost project. If we build a new public library we must also be prepared to pay for the cost of building a new museum. On the other hand, if we build a new museum, significant savings can be made by remodeling the current Centennial Building for the library. We clearly do not need any more boondoggles.

Robert D. Warner
Ketchikan, AK

Received May 07, 2007 - Published May 07, 2007

Related Viewpoint:

letter Do we need a new Public Library? By Judith L. Anglin - Ketchikan, AK



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