Logo courtesy of Renew Your Library Campaign
By Andrew Duffelmeyer
(Sept. 29, 20011- 9:45 a.m.) The head of a group advocating for the approval of an $18 million renovation and expansion of the Ames Public Library says her main strategy is to educate the community on the library building's needs.
"We have a worn out building, really worn out," said Pat Brown, chairwoman of Renew Your Library. "And even if the bond issue were not to pass millions would have to be paid for repairs simply because things wear out. So the thought is why not spend a little bit more and get a building that is really spectacular?"
That education piece is already available in a number of forms, like in handouts at the library and through the library's website. Another effort to directly advocate for passage of the bond is also underway, Brown said, and that will include signs, door-knocking and advertisements.
About 15 people are working on the get-out-the-vote committee alone, Brown said, along with "scores" of volunteers. The Ames Public Library Friends Foundation has provided funds for the effort, which also includes a website and outreach through Facebook and Twitter.
Brown said she hopes there won't be an opposition group formed to oppose the bond, as there was to work against the $65 million, six-elementary school bonding plan turned down by voters Sept. 13. She's not sure what impact that vote will have on the library's bonding proposal.
"This is for the community, the common good," Brown said. "Of course I don't know but I would think that people would support such a lovely institution that helps so many people and that brings so many people to the community. It says a lot about Ames, the quality of our library."
There's no question the economy is a factor and a fair consideration when looking at renovating and expanding the library, Brown said. But she thinks the advantages to building now - like low construction costs - and the fact that work on the building is needed anyway outweigh those concerns.
The bond, which voters will weigh-in on Nov. 8, is expected to cost taxpayers $29.70 per $100,000 of residential property valuation and $61.20 per $100,000 of commercial property valuation. The library has committed to raising $2 million on it's own for the project.
"Now is the time to invest," she said. "It's like buying stocks in a bull market, not in a bear market. I'm not being inconsiderate of people on fixed income and things, I know it's difficult. But I would hope they would have a little vision for where this community needs to be."
Some things tell you a story about the values of a community, Brown said. She used the well-maintained medians along Fleur Drive in Des Moines and that city's downtown sculpture park as examples, and she thinks Ames should make a similar investment in an institution many hold in high esteem.
"I get up every morning and say 'this will pass,'" Brown said. "It's right for the community."