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Letter: Consider the library's central role and vote 'Yes'

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By Mary Richards

(Oct. 14, 2011 - 10 a.m.) How do I feel about “my” public library?  My lifelong love affair with books stretches back to the first things I can remember:  leaning against my mother at bedtime, listening to her read ‘Ferdinand the Bull’ or a beautifully illustrated fairy tale; and it continued through decades of reading to myself and my brothers, and later to my own children and grand-children.  Now it includes downloading books to a “robot reader” that can do the reading for me, if I want. 

All that lifetime of exploring worlds of adventure and ideas, of history and people and animals and the universe and countless other topics, all that boundless enrichment would never have been available to me without the public libraries I could access wherever I lived.  I’ll wager that most of you who are reading this have had the same experience.

And, of all the libraries I’ve patronized in seven plus decades, the Ames Public Library ranks high in innovation, availability to all, proactive presention of all kinds of ideas in all kinds of media, and welcoming community gathering places for accessing, disseminating, and discussing ideas. 

But it doesn’t rank highly in space in which to display its books, conduct its business, offer comfortable gathering spaces for all the different population groups (think teens and pre-teens) that can benefit so much from what it has to offer.  And for a minimal personal contribution each year we can erase those space and service deficits for years to come. 

I urge you to consider the central role of the Ames Public Library in your life and the lives of your friends and family, and join me in supporting the bond issue that will provide the necessary funds to help our library serve our community to its full potential. 

Vote YES for the Library on November 8.

I will vote YES, too

Nice letter. I'm sure the writer's warm, positive relationship to the library resonates with many others in Ames. Time to show our appreciation!

I'm waiting for AEDC or the Chamber

I'm waiting for AEDC or the Chamber to "take the unsual" or "accidental" stance to weigh in on the library bond before I make up my mind. Can someone please explain to me what is wrong with the current library?

why the improvements are needed

To mention a few reasons why we need to improve the library building:

Currently the library has to throw away something every time they acquire something new. There are not enough meeting spaces for the requests received by the library for the meeting rooms. The spaces that serve young children are not safe. The spaces for teens are too small. The current library is not ADA compliant, it is inaccessible by wheelchair. The building and additions were made when energy was cheap and the building is very inefficient. I suggest you take one of the library tours or check out the information that is on line at the library site. Mary Ann Dilla

info for those who really care

To anyone who sincerely wants to learn more about the library's needs:

FB: Ames Public Library Renewal Project

Ames Public Library website (Frequently Asked Questions):

I am voting no

I have seen the cost of the square footage, and it is very unreasonable. Can someone explain why it is so much higher to renovate this library compared to others in the area?

Cost of Square Footage

Great question! It is very easy and cheap to build something from scratch. New buildings can automatically be created energy efficient with "built-in" features that allow for adjustments in the future (electricity, movable walls, etc.) Renovating an existing building does not come with these advantages. The Marshalltown library, for example, cost much less per square foot than Ames' proposed plan, but they built from scratch on new land dedicated for that specific reason which Ames is not able to do.

The Library in particular has extremely outdated systems and through the years, building projects have been added on which gives the library a "patched" feel and causes work flow issues. The library originally wanted to tear down and build new but the overwhelming feedback from the community caused them to re-think the plan. Since the community wants to keep the historical parts of the building, then tearing down and building from scratch (the cheaper and easier way) had to be thrown out as well.

Even if the bond vote doesn't pass the library HAS to make some very drastic renovations. For example: their heating and cooling system basically doesn't work anymore and will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace or fix. I know library staff are doing everything they can to listen to the community's wishes and this plan is the answer to all the feedback they have been given.

I will for sure be voting YES on Nov. 8 because I think they have listened to what we have told them and I want to support the effort and the future of this great community resource.

Me too

Extra square footage in the library won't be the deciding factor for whether people will move to Ames. The school plan for 6 schools put schools in all major neighborhoods in Ames and would have grown Ames. I will not vote for any bond that won't have the effect of making Ames a desirable place to move. Families of all income levels aggressively seek homes in close proximity to schools. They don't do this for extra square footage in a library.

Actually . . .

Many people moving to Ames have no concept of the idea of "neighborhood" schools that seemed to play such an important role in the recent bond election. When we moved here, we were interested in the quality of the schools—a neighborhood school doesn't guarantee quality education. Since we were accustomed to having to drive much further to get to schools in our last area, location was secondary. However, having access to a high quality library where our family can find materials and programs that supplement what our children are learning in the classroom and that expand all of our learning beyond the the boundaries of our neighborhood, of Ames, of Iowa? That's a selling point for the entire community. While it's true that people moving to Ames won't base their decisions on square footage of the library, our investment in improving the library will make a difference in how people perceive our community as a whole because it reflects our priorities as citizens. By voting yes for the library renovation, you are not just voting for a pretty building. You are expanding opportunities for literacy, employment, and community involvement for every citizen of Ames, regardless of age, economic standing, or any other factor that sometimes limits access to these things through other sources.

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