OPEN LETTER: Ketchikan City
By Robert D. Warner
September 17, 2007
Dear Ketchikan City Council Members:
I support efforts to maintain the library at its current location
in the Centennial Building. I object to the high costs of constructing
a new library at a second class location. Small unelected groups,
such as the Friends of the Library, do not represent the community
on this matter; all citizens should should have the right and
opportunity to determine the proper site for the library.
Recently several citizens expressed creative and unique ideas
on how to keep the library at its present location. One suggestion
is that the museum move to the old fire station and another proposes
constructing a new library wing across Ketchikan Creek. The
present location of the public library is a priceless asset.
In his SITNEWS letter, Mr. Dossett, a member of the Capital Development
Committee for the Friends of the Library, claims to provide information
regarding the need for a new building. Most of this "information"
is opinion rather than fact. One serious misconception he promotes
is that projected long term growth (30-50 years) would require
a building much larger than the Centennial Building even if the
museum moved. Ketchikan's population is projected to decline
slightly during the next 30 years. With advances in computer
technology, why would small public libraries continue to need
vast amounts of space to house large numbers of traditional reference
books and little used dated and obsolete materials?
Another issue is why would a public library need so many meeting
and activity rooms? The current Centennial Building has plenty
of space, now used by the museum for storage, that could be remodeled
into a public meeting room and conference room. If large programs
need more space, the city has a civic center for that purpose.
There are also many multipurpose rooms in local schools. Let's
remember we are talking about a library, not an activities or
Mr. Dossett mentions the Carnegie libraries in his letter. Does
he recognize that many of these fine buildings are now over 100
years old and continue to provide excellent service to patrons
in this age of computers? It is ridiculous to compare the Centennial
Building with Schoenbar or White Cliff. The Centennial Building
is likely the soundest facility in the current city inventory
and clearly has historical significance as well. To tear it
down would be a tragic and expensive mistake. Older buildings
are frequently updated at reasonable costs for modern computers
and ADA standards.
Is the community ready for another boondoggle? Do we support
a tax increase to tear down one of the most attractive and usable
buildings in our community? The bottom line is that before any
decisions are made or land purchased, citizens need to know the
total costs of both the proposed library and museum projects.
These proposed projects are tied together and we will not have
one without the other. Would it be less costly to move the library
or museum? For certain, the community as a whole, needs the opportunity
to decide the proper location for the library.
Robert D. Warner
cc: Sitnews editor
Received September 17, 2007
- Published September 17, 2007
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