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School bond vote separate from library's plan, director says

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Logo courtesy of Ames Public Library

By Andrew Duffelmeyer

(Sept. 22, 2011 - 9:30 a.m.) Ames Public Library Director Art Weeks says he's not concerned about the public shooting down an $18 million bonding proposal to expand, renovate and equip the library, even after a $65 million bonding plan to build or renovate six elementary schools was roundly rejected by voters on Sept. 13.

The library's bonding plan will be on the Nov. 8 city election ballot.

"I think it's a separate issue," Weeks said. "I don't think there are any linkages between the two. Certainly we want people to evaluate the library project as something that they feel is going to be a worthwhile project or not, but I don't see it tied into the schools in anyway."

The plan would expand the 48,000 square foot library building to 77,000 square feet, while maintaining all previous additions and the original 1904 building.

The bond 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.

Weeks said the library has formed a committee to sell the plan to Ames residents.

"We have purposely stayed away from any kind of active public information campaign on this until the school board vote was over," Weeks said. "So within the next week or so we're going to start providing the information that people will need to evaluate the project so they can cast their vote in November."

The library last expanded 26 years ago, work that was planned to meet growth for between 15 and 20 years. Circulation has nearly tripled since that time.

The library's board has said staffing and operating costs would hold steady in a new building due to efficiency efforts in energy use, materials processing and facility layout. Open floor plans would reduce the need for staff supervision, and automated book-sorting systems would free up staff time as well.

"What our hope is, we're going to be in the next six weeks before the election getting out as much information to the community as we possibly can so they can evaluate the project and make an informed decision on the needs of the library and vote in what is in the best interest of themselves, their families and the community," Weeks said.

Another major bonding proposal - $65 million to finance improvement projects for Mary Greeley Medical Center - will not be voted on by the public.

Michael Tretina, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Mary Greeley, said that project contains no obligation from the city for repayment and no tax revenues from Ames citizens.

That project is expected to cost $129 million. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for next Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Cost concerns

77,000 - 48,000 = 29,000 additional square feet

$18,000,000 / 29,000 = $620 per square foot gained

According to Reed construction data, libraries in Des Moines would be $141.99 per square foot

$18,000,000/77,000 = $233 per square foot of the total finished building

so the bond amount for the total building (including existing structure) is still above average, even if you reduce the book value of the structure built in 1984 to zero - has the average value of a house or commercial building built in 1984 gone up or down since 1984?

and this is only the bond amount, it doesn't include the fundraising part

Compare with Marshalltown's new library

Here's some info from Marshalltown's library site about their new library, opened Dec 2008


key quotes:

"38,970 square feet of space, double the current library"

"How much will the new library cost?
The new library will cost $8.65 million. That figure includes purchasing some additional
property, developing the site, construction costs, architectural costs, furnishings,
equipment, and moving expenses."

$8,650,000/38,970 = $221.96 per square foot

Take a 40 mile drive over to Marshalltown, to see their library

it's hard for a lot of people to translate dollars, square foot etc into the reality of what can be built

But Marshalltown's new library is literally a 'brick and morter' example of what they got, for what the spent. Personally, I think it's a pretty nice place. It's relatively nearby, it's a town within about 15-20 percent the size of Ames non ISU student population (ISU Students have their own huge library on campus)

regardless of where one stands on this bond issue, I think visiting the Marshalltown library helps make for a better informed vote. while i seriously question this bond proposal, my true hope is that every person voting, really understands their vote the best they possibly can, even if they're already leaning 'no'. Whether yes or no, in my opinion, the only irresponsible vote is the uninformed vote

the hours are (copied from their web site)

Library Hours

From Labor Day to Memorial Day, winter library hours are:

Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Fridays 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sundays CLOSED

a 'no' vote is not a vote against any library expansion

or libraries in general. it's just a vote against this particular bond proposal

you can honestly be open to a modest library expansion, for instance, filling out the southwest corner, but question the cost of this proposal

voting 'no' doesnt mean you cant ever vote 'yes' to a proposal where you feel the costs are reasonable and your reasonable questions have been better answered

Reply to Cost Concerns

The writer of this cost assessment assumes that only the 29,000 sq. ft. addition is the only project cost we would incur. The reality is that the entire building must be renovated for a variety of reasons, many of them having to do with ADA regulations, an obsolete HVAC system, and the need to re-structure the interior with more open and flexible space that eliminates the disjointed isolated rooms and hallway. The project must address deterioration of the structure over the years including, but not limited to, the roof, window treatments, etc. The building, which will be on two levels also carries with it additional expenses such as an elevator that meets ADA requirements and a floor that can withstand a live load of 150 lb per square foot, a much higher standard that the average office building. This floor load requirement, similar to that of a parking deck, is required due to the weight of book stack areas.

Yes, the Marshalltown Library was completed in 2008 at a cost of $222.00 per sq. ft for the total project cost. The Ames Public Library project has been cost estimated for completion in the year 2014. The costs have been aged for inflation which must be considered in assessing the two projects. Marshalltown did have the advantage of one story new construction that did not carry the extra costs of the second level or correcting past deficiencies.

The Marshalltown Library is a wonderful addition to their community and was built to serve a level of usage far below that of Ames Public Library. Our rate of library loans (circulation) this past fiscal year was 1,431,023 compared to Marshalltown's circulation of 327,106. Our program attendance is over 50,000 each year, while Marshalltown's attendance is less than 15,000 per year. The comparison between our two libraries is not a fair one. This information is provided by Art Weeks, Director of Ames Public Library.

Other concerns

Nowhere in this plan does it seem to address the electronic book reader technologies that are snowballing - since this library bond proposal began, the costs of these readers has dropped greatly, from around $200 to around $120 now. It is inevitable this technology will be a serious compelling cost consideration in the very near future, and it could profoundly affect storage requirements. It's far more 'Green' than cutting down trees, manufacturing them into books, transporting them with trucks, storing them at room temperature (via heating and cooling) on a rack in a building for 20 years, loaning out to people who pick them up and drop them back off in automobiles, and then dumping them into a landfill.

Also, the geographic are of Ames is expanding faster than the population, and there is a great deal of empty commercial space in west Ames, Sommerset, West Ames, and south

Energy use for the library should be considered in the total context of building new structure vs using existing, and the energy it takes for the average patron to drive to and from the library, to get and return books. This also affects wear and tear, and congestion on our streets, which is a problem. The central library can still be a 'hub' for the city in it's present location in it's present form, or with a modest addition in the southwest section of the existing building

Nowhere in this plan do I see these issues addressed

It will be a no from me

I just don't see it as a need. I think e-readers are getting more and more popular. We have book stores closing. Maybe the library should link themselves with the schools and have multiple sites at the new buildings.

RE: Schools

while I am critical of the existing plan, and do think that resources can be shared with schools, there is a problem with having public library facilities on school grounds. school grounds are security zones, where every visitor must register with the office, if they enter the grounds at all. you really cant have a public place on school grounds

re: vote no

A total waste of money, I'm voting no. Make better use of the library we have

Let's Listen

As I read all the negative comments, I'm hoping that people will take the time to listen to the proposal before they make up their minds. Give the library folks a chance to tell you what you would be getting for your money.

I voted against the six school bond issue based on my opinion of the plan. I'm not making up my mind on the library until I've heard more information.

I agree.

This is good advice. I know relatively nothing, and I want to learn before I decide.

Voting Yes to the Library

An earlier comment says s/he thinks "e-readers are getting more and more popular. We have book stores closing. Maybe the library should link themselves with the schools and have multiple sites at the new buildings."

1. Surely, book stores closing is an argument for voting YES and passing the bond to enhance the library! We can't all access a computer and buy our books from Amazon. The Ames library had over 1.4 million loans last year; it is one of the most high-trafficked libraries of its size in the country. Our own town just lost 2 bookstores. More than ever, we need a library that is able to meet the community's needs.
2. Have you priced ebooks lately? Anyone with a reading habit could spend an insane amount of money paying for downloaded ebooks on a regular basis. The jury is out what percentage of readers will switch to ebooks for all or part of their reading. Right now the majority of the population still reads paper books. And the Ames public library does not have nearly enough room for all the books they would like to loan.
3. It's so easy to give people advice when you have no clue what is involved. Show some respect for what librarians know and do. The comment about libraries linking themselves with the schools is a fantasy. Go to the library sometime, watch what a tremendous operation it is to keep books circulating and programs staffed and then come back and tell us that this could be done "at multiple sites" in the schools. The APL is reliant on hundreds of volunteers to make the whole operation work now!

And the schools have their own media professionals, who work in tandem with the classroom teachers to make sure that specific reading and other academic curricula are enhanced by their collections and programs. I'm pretty sure they would go ballistic if they ever even read your suggestion!

Not just about books

If libraries were just about books, the whole e-reader argument might have some merit. (Although I know a lot of folks that still prefer a printed book than an e-reader.) But they aren't.

I have to question whether the people talking about e-readers have even been to the public library in the past couple of decades. Walk in one of these days and look to see how many people are in the library and what they're doing. How many of them are actually in the stacks looking at books, versus how many of them are using the patron-computers? How many flipping through the collection of CDs? How many browsing the shelves upon shelves of DVDs? How many groups of people are using the study rooms? Is there a program or a movie being shown in the auditorium? How many children are in the kid's section participating in story-hour?

Having said that, I'm still

Having said that, I'm still voting no on this referendum until and unless a school bond issue has been passed first.

We need to get our schools in order first.

In fact, we should have gotten our school situation taken care of before we spent all that money on a new swimming pool.

I've been in the library

and kids were yelling and running around, no parents in sight. The library is a babysitting service

Library Vote

Afraid I'm NO on the library. The cost per square foot quoted is shockingly high and appears to provide little value to the public. The library spent hundreds of thousands of dollars working on and huge expansion, then decided to take a look at what the public my want to fund. They then came up with the current plan which does not appear to be well thought out. Our tax rate for library services is already high and given the current financial situation I need to ask what to do we get for the additional money that we don't have now but have a big demand for, and I can't think of anything. I go to the library frequently and this is what I saw touring the library early this week - a lady taking up a full table working on some kind of goofy looking quilt - three smelly guys sleeping in chairs around the magazines - a lady that appeared to have Tourette's shouting random noises while flipping through CD's, a creepy guy checking on porn on the computers, I had seen enough and left. I don't want to spend more tax dollars to provide more space for the behavior I see in the library. There will always be a place for books but electronic service are sounding better every day.

Library FAQ

If you would truly like to know more about the renovation, go to the library's FAQ site and read about it.

For $30 year (per $100,000 tax eval.), the library renovation would be the deal of the century. My family checks out more than $30 worth of library videos every week! I have not bought a new hardback novel in years because I can get whatever I want at the Ames Public library and save myself $25-30--over and over and over and over.

Not everyone, but many of us in Ames are able to afford $30-60 a year for the privilege of having one of the best libraries in the country for a city our size.

Please vote Yes for the Library.

Deal of the Century - I think not.

Or you could pay nothing more and continue to check out your videos every month. I don't think it is the public responsiblity to provide movie entertainment through mandatory taxation. We already pay a fairly high price for the library. Currently according to the city budget we pay $45 per $100,000 in taxable value. The library renovation would increase the cost by about 70%, but don't think it will provide a 70% increase in service. Again I don't think there is a demand for service that is not being met by the current library. Family Video on Lincoln currently pays about $870 a year so that the poster above can get videos for free rather than pay a dollar or two to rent at this tax paying business. With the library renovation they will be paying well over $1,000 per year to fund you going elsewhere for videos. The business pays over $14,000 per year in taxes to fund the schools, library and other local services. Is it a good idea to help run them out of business so the few that get their videos at the library can save a few bucks.

how are unexplained high costs per square foot a 'deal of the ce

'deal of the century'?

the best deal is

make do with what we have, I will be voting NO

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