SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


OPEN LETTER: Ketchikan City Council
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 entertainment center.

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
Ketchikan, AK

cc: Sitnews editor

Ketchikan, AK


Received September 17, 2007 - Published September 17, 2007


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Ketchikan, Alaska