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Posted on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor downtown library bond proposal defeated: What now?

By Ryan J. Stanton


Supporters of the Our New Downtown Library campaign, Ellie Serras, Leah Gunn and Prue Rosenthal, watch the results come in Tuesday night at the Real Seafood Co. in downtown Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The postmortem of the Ann Arbor District Library's campaign for a new downtown library began early Tuesday night, as soon as election results showed the proposal failing in key precincts.

Supporters of the Our New Downtown Library committee who gathered at the Real Seafood Co. acknowledged their message obviously didn't resonate with voters.

By the end of the night, they had accepted defeat, but they weren't budging on their position that a new downtown library is needed.

"It means we didn't make our case to the voters, but it doesn't mean there is not a case to be made," said Margaret Leary, president of the AADL's governing board.

"There is a case to be made," Leary added. "The current library is too small, too inefficient, too impossible to make better, and if we didn't convey that to the voters, then that's unfortunate."


Buttons for the defeated Our New Downtown Library campaign sat atop tables at the Real Seafood Co. Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Now that voters have spoken, Leary said the library board will have a lot to discuss in the coming weeks and months. She said the current library at Fifth and William, which traces back to 1958 and was last renovated in the early 1990s, will require costly upgrades if it's not rebuilt.

"The library board will have to talk about it and figure out what to do," she said. "It will be a big issue for us. We will have some serious issues ahead of us."

The $65 million bond proposal was rejected by voters in every municipality in which it appeared on the ballot Tuesday — throughout the city of Ann Arbor, as well as the portions of Ann Arbor, Lodi, Pittsfield, Salem, Scio, Superior and Webster townships included in the district.

The final tally was 41,359-33,604, giving the "yes" side 44.8 percent.

Kathy Griswold, who headed up the Protect Our Libraries group that opposed the proposal, celebrated her team's win Tuesday night at Weber's Inn.

"I think it's part of a trend of the community just being more fiscally responsible," she said of the outcome. "We've seen that in other areas. I think the fact that there wasn't a specific plan played into it. I hope that it also had to do with equity throughout the district. That was my biggest concern."

Griswold said the library district is much more vast than the library board seems to want to acknowledge and she doesn't see how a new downtown library will help low-income people who live out in the townships. She thinks township voters especially were right to reject the proposal.

"I think there was this preoccupation with building this downtown library building because so many other communities are doing it — Seattle, Austin, Des Moines, Iowa — and I really don't think that's what Ann Arbor needs," she said. "We need more library services further out."

Griswold said she would "absolutely" oppose any effort if the library board decided to take a second shot at winning voter approval for a new downtown library.

Leary said one option the board might consider is doing more planning and then going back to voters with a more detailed proposal. She said she's not convinced it would have helped on Tuesday to have had architectural drawings of what a new library could look like, though.

"I'm just very disappointed," Downtown Development Authority Chairwoman Leah Gunn said of the proposal's defeat. "There have been three library millages — 1972, 1995 and this one. I've worked on all of them and I'm just very, very sorry that people did not see how necessary this is."


The committee opposed to the library bond said it circulated about 500 "Protect Our Libraries" signs in Ann Arbor and surrounding townships.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Gunn said she can't think of any missteps in the campaign.

"We did everything we could and had a fabulous group of people working on this campaign," she said. "We were open and transparent with all of our contributions and expenditures, so that's all I can say. It was interesting that most of the opposition's money came in a late contribution attributed to an advertising agency."

Peter Baker, who worked on the library campaign, said the Our New Downtown Library committee didn't expect the last-minute ad blitz against the proposal.

"Our entire campaign was based around trying to promote libraries as an institution," he said. "We wanted to look toward the future of libraries. We didn't really expect to have to counter a lot of misinformation. We didn't really expect to have to argue for investment in libraries."

According to campaign finance reports, an Ann Arbor-based advertising agency called McCullagh Creative contributed $21,337 worth of in-kind advertising services to the Protector Our Libraries committee that was actively campaigning against the bond proposal.

That wasn't known until the final days before the election when late contribution reports were filed and rumors quickly spread that one or more local property owners might be funneling money to the ad agency to run the ads. Those rumors have been neither confirmed nor denied. Jeff McCullagh, the ad agency's owner, did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

"I think the general idea in a democracy is that we know who pays for what and I'm not sure the current rules about campaign finance reporting allow us to do that," Leary said.

Dennis Dahlmann's name came up Tuesday night as supporters of the library bond proposal searched for answers. They noted signs against the proposal on his properties.

Ben Dahlmann, vice president of Dahlmann Properties, declined to comment when contacted by, and Dennis Dahlmann could not be reached.

Cappo Management, which owns a number of rental properties in Ann Arbor, also put up signs opposing the library bond on many of its properties near downtown.

Baker said it seems evident that special interests came into play against the library proposal and that's unfortunate.

"We obviously expected a lot of resistance to taxes being hiked, which is a totally valid argument," he said. "But I think we sort of overlooked the reactionary left, I guess. It's sort of a weird alliance of the property owners in town and the people who wanted something to protest."

Asked whether big property owners helped fund the ads against the library, Griswold said she wouldn't be surprised if some stepped forward to cut checks. She said she put more than $7,000 in expenses for the campaign on her own credit card and she's now soliciting donations to pay herself back, and she said McCullagh Creative might be doing the same.

"The money's been spent and now we're trying to recoup it," she said.

Multiple voters told as they were leaving the polls Tuesday they came out against the library bond proposal simply because they didn't want to have to deal with another big construction headache for two years downtown. One resident who declined to give his name said he lives across from the Library Lane underground parking garage, which was under construction for more than two years, and he's still bitter about being woken up every morning by loud noises.

"I voted against it because I don't want to be without a downtown library for two years and I don't really feel that the library's in that bad a shape," said Mark Grasso, another resident who lives within walking distance from the library and makes the trip a few times a week. "I don't think they need to tear the whole thing down and build it again. It's just so much money."

Ann Arbor resident Rex Roof voted inside the library on Tuesday. He thinks the ads against the bond proposal were misleading and he said they just made him want to support it even more.

"I strongly support building a new library because this one is pretty old and I think our library is doing amazing things and I support it," he said.

Ellie Serras, who headed up the Our New Downtown Library committee, said she's still proud of the campaign her team ran.

"If we didn't make our message quite clear enough, we've got time to do that," she said. "Fortunately we've got a great library system and that will still be there tomorrow."

Serras said shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday night she wasn't yet thinking about waging a second campaign. But she was thinking about the campaign against the library.

"I think they were absolutely effective in swaying people," she said. "I think their message was all about the money that it would take and I think there were implications that the library was involved with the city and the DDA in some way, which was not true. So I think that they hit some points that were sensitive in the community and the community responded."

Donald Harrison, another resident who worked on the campaign for the library, said while the opposition had good soundbites like "save the library," it was difficult to so succinctly convey the need for a new downtown library and explain the current building's shortcomings.

"Infrastructure is not the sexiest of things," he said. "And it's a challenge to make that infrastructure argument for people to understand it when the building's not about to fall down."

John Splitt, a DDA board member and supporter of the campaign, agreed with Harrison as they chatted Tuesday night at Real Seafood.

"Much of it is what's happening behind the walls," Splitt said of the library's shortcomings. "I think it was a hard sell — it was a hard thing to communicate."

Leary said she suspects most people who argue the current library is fine don't actually spend much time inside it. She said just ask the moms who bring their kids into the children's room and don't have a place to sit or the teens who come in and don't have a computer to use.

"The existing, inadequate buildings will take up more and more of our operating revenue, and that's why we really need to think hard about what to do next," she said.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 1:33 a.m.

It's November 13th and I'm still seeing a whole host of forlorn "Vote Yes on the Downtown Library!" signs all over town. Maybe Leah and Co. can skip a dinner at Real Seafood Co, and get out there and take down the litter of their forlorn failed campaign....

Bill Wilson

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

My .02: Whenever I come across those "friends of AA" groups, I always stop, reach around behind me, and make sure that my wallet is tight in my pocket. Generally, these people are friends of nobody but those with an economic interest in that particular scheme. And their post-election behavior is a tell: this was nothing more than a scheme. The fix is obvious. We need to work with Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Netflix, and other cutting-edge tech companies to create a community account that would provide basic services for library users: X amount of copies of book and video catalog available for community loan... X amount of office software available for community loan... etc.... etc.... Physical buildings and books are obsolete: you can read a book on most telephones these days. A better job that would cost far less can be done electronically. Just look at, right in front of you. Time for the physical libraries to join the elephants in the graveyard. The voters have demanded it.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Why is there no mention in this story that the Director of the Ann Arbor Library system abused her position by using the Library email notification system to send out information favoring passage of the Library bond to virtually all users of the Library. This type of campaigning was clearly inapproriate and wrong.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

These elitists who spend big bucks at Real Seafood have probably never visited the branches of the library and experienced the jammed parking and incredibly crowded conditions at branches such as Mallets, or the ridiculous parking for the Traverwood branch on Traver Blvd (where there is no way to walk from the car to the library without scaling a muddy hill or walking in a busy street). These are problems that need to be fixed for the already exisiting NEW branches. Technology is the future of libraries, not space for books. If there is money to burn, build more branches.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

This was a resounding NO vote for the library bond. What part of NO does this group not understand? Going back to the voters and wasting more money to persuade them to reconsider is not a prudent approach. Admit that there are major problems with the downtown location (located in an increasingly desolate and unappealing area of the city surrounded by parking structures and across the street from the bus station, major homeless problem inside and outside the building). If there is a new building in the future, build it in another location with surface street parking lot. DEAL with the homeless who harass patrons inside and outside the building and who trash the magazine section, shout obscenities at patrons, etc.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Ellie, please accept the citizen's message to you vs. thinking you were not clear...DROP IT!


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

I had a hard time finding a reason to support a new library. I certainly wasn't looking forward to having that area shut down by construction again. Also, I don't visit the downtown branch that often because parking is too expensive. I order my books online and pick them up at a satellite branch where parking is free and convenient. I've enjoyed the excellent computer classes but also prefer to take them at a satellite branch. I didn't find the cost to the average taxpayer to be much of a hardship personally, but overall just thought the case for a new building to be weak.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

1. Would really like to see a report on where the large ammount of money came from (funneled thru an advertising company) that worked to defeat this. 2. Downtown library is highly used, IMHO is a very good use of taxpayers money. Far exceeding buying ugly public art only a few could love. Priorities seems wacked by mayor and his following.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

I very much appreciate or libraries. I like being able to check out books for my 3 year old and taking her to the story times and other activities. I am happy with the current library, though we live closer to Mallet's so we use that location more often. Why is our society so obsessed with needing NEW; tearing down... It seems so wasteful. And even if it were the best thing to do economically (vs a repair), maybe it's just not the right time for us to be spending more money on things that could wait. The icing on the cake for me was the plan for a new library. It seemed like a cafe/mall more than a library. Do we really need that? Why can't we appreciate a nice, simple library. That's more appealing to me!


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

"We didn't really expect to have to argue for investment in libraries." "I think the general idea in a democracy is that we know who pays for what and I'm not sure the current rules about campaign finance reporting allow us to do that." Feelings entitlement and sour grapes. I notice in this article fails to mention at all that the pro campaign by far outfinanced the anti campaign. As for the feeling that we "didn't get it," we got it fine. We know what infrastructure is, foks.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

I guess Ann Arbor voters cared for approving this dog of a millage about as much as Leah Gunn cares for rescuing real dogs.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

I think Leah Gunn said she was "... sorry that people did not see how necessary this is." I hope she reads all the comments because people considered if it was necessary and decided it wasn't. Writing checks for property taxes is necessary. Paying utilities bills is necessary. A new downtown library building isn't necessary. That's the conclusion of taxpayers who use the library a lot, use the downtown library a little, or don't use the library at all. This is not about politics. This is about dollars and cents, as well as need. I recall reading the comment in the voters' guide by one trustee who was looking forward to a stunning library that she expected would bring millions of visitors to Ann Arbor. Huh? Stunning? Millions of visitors? This is Ann Arbor. It's a big deal when over 100,000 people come to town for a football game. Maybe she meant million years would come over a period of a few years, but still... As I've written before, Ann Arbor's former, largest property tax payer, Pfizer, is gone. The cities whose libraries are compared to what Ann Arborites have been said to need are cities with larger populations and more businesses. Many people rank the need for more police and fire protection far above the need to build a new downtown library building.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Libraries are an obsolete concept. I've lived in this area for 23 years and never been in a single public library. I live 2 miles from a nice new modern building library, never been, don't need to go, won't be going. There's nothing in a library I can't get elsewhere, and probably easier. Don't need bigger, more expensive library buildings.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

This is the first time I've heard the term "special interests" used to describe taxpayers.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

I think "special interests" are the 95% of Ann Arbor that doesn't live downtown.

Basic Bob

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

Especially people who have lived her a long time, purchased homes, and established businesses.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

We just built 3 new libraries in the last 8 years, can we take a break from building and pay off some of that debt before building another new library?


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Mr. Bean - You are correct as far as it goes. We have about 8 years to go on the bond that paid for the last down town library construction. That bond is held by the Ann Arbor Public Schools because at the time the library was part of the school district. So there is building debt that the tax payers are paying for (AAPS and AADL have the same set of taxpayers), but that debt is not held by the library.

Steve Bean

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

dawn, the library district didn't incur any debt in the branch construction projects. My understanding is that they were all accomplished within the revenue constraints of the existing millage (which was lowered a few years back, by the way). Also, according to 9/24/12 board meeting minutes, "…August showed unrestricted cash balance just over $13 million." My understanding is that some portion of that balance would have been used for the proposed project.

Roger Kuhlman

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Who says the downtown library needs to have costly renovations made to it? The Library Board of Directors and top management want to do a lot of costly empire building that is pretty clear. Why don't they ever think of the cost to Ann Arbor taxpayers and come up with frugal plans for the library that will do instead of being grandiose and lavish.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 10 p.m.

Leave It Alone!!.... THAT's "what now."

Cendra Lynn

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Say whaaa? "a weird alliance of the property owners in town and the people who wanted something to protest." Are you for real? Have you talked to any of us?? There was no alliance; there was agreement. I think most of us came to that conclusion on our own. Karen Sidney's doing the numbers clinched the realization that the proposal was ridiculous. As for needing something to protest...What? You think we have so much spare time that we have to protest something just to have a good day? I would be much happier if there were nothing to protest here; say, like having a full police force, enough firefighters and their equipment, fire stations within two minutes of every building in the city, a Council that welcomed and even sought citizen participation, City staff that obeyed City rules, enforced City codes, and did not begin new projects without citizen agreement. If everyone simply did their job; if the City books were done openly and did not need to be FOIA'd for citizens to learn where our money has gone... I would love not to have to protest just about everything City government has done in the past decade. I think you need to get out and talk to folks; well, really you need to listen to us. Sheesh!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

I disagree with Leary's comment that people who voted no don't go into the library that often. Even though I am not a voter, I go to the library multiple times a week for many hours and I find it fine! I don't think there is a need for a 400 seat auditorium or a cafe. Unfortunately, in this digital age, libraries are going unused. In 20/more/less years, there will not be a need for a fancy library with a cafe and an auditorium. People will and are using electronics for books etc instead of their libraries. Ann Arbor Board, the people have spoken. There is not going to be a new library. I'm sorry, but this is for the best. This dream is gone. If you decide to put this out again in the next few years, it will most likely be shot down again, but a new library is not needed. Fix the "problems" that it has, (I have not seen any but thats just me). Move on, there has to be other important things to do that does not involve building a new library for things that are not needed. A new library is a boondoggle! I would like it if there was no construction in town, of course, that is not going to happen, but it never hurts to hope. For 5 minutes, I wish there could be no construction anywhere in Ann Arbor. By the way, has anyone heard any news about when the Stadium Bridge is opening? Is it on time or will it be a little late?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

One thing that has been underestimated by the DDA and the pro-library lobby is how much ill will has been built up over the years against the AADL for its absolute refusal to engage in any libary sharing / cooperative lending with any other regional libraries. All the other local library districts : large ones like Ypsi, Canton, Dexter, etc. plus small ones like Northfield and Chelsea, allow some degree of inter-sharing of lending materials, and hold processes where one can order items from cooperating libraries simply by using a library cards; AADL meanwhile, is alone in not sharing materials with any other libraries, and does not allow non-A2 residents to lease or lend ANY materials, ever, without paying an outrageous tacked on fee of several hundred dollars a year,. I am against all their works until they join the 20th century and allow some degree of reasonable and resource sharing with other cooperative libraries (which all cooperate with each other anyway...) Glad to see their costly and unnecessary millage money grab go down hard!


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 4:12 a.m.

So you're a non-resident, none of your tax money goes toward AADL, and yet you expect to be able to walk in and check out items AADL taxpayers paid for? Of those libraries you list, how many have their own millage? I KNOW none have collections as large as AADL's collection.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

"No, an outsider cannot walk in and check out items without having an AADL card..." Afterdark. You prove my point: I can actually go into a true sharing library (for example, Dexter and/or Canton, Ypsi, and use my library card, and check out books. In turn, if my libary doesn't stock an item, it can borrow this item from another library and have it available at MY library...for my use. AADL doesn't do this. Their's is a one-way transaction and they are still the only regional library that charges an annual fee for use by non-city residents.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.

NOT true. AADL participates in the Michigan e-Library (MeL) program. Books are sent and received from all over the state. The borrower just needs to request the book via their home library and it will be sent to that library. Similarly, AADL cardholders who want an item from another library just need to request it and it will arrive at AADL for pickup. No, an outsider cannot walk in and check out items without having an AADL card, but those people aren't in the AADL district voting on the proposal either.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Personally, I am glad to see the library ballot proposal fail and voted against it. $65 million is a wasteful and galling sum. I would have expected more discussion and justification for the cost. Perhaps a survey of how the library used is useful for to consider. I've been at the downtown location once or twice per week. I also have been to the Traver and Malletts Creek facilities. I think they are all somewhat overrun, but the downtown location is less overrun than Traver for example in my limited series of interactions. Focusing downtown, the computers in the kids areas are ancient and clunky, and perhaps more computers could be deployed upstairs for our daily users. That seems to be a real need. I have rarely seen the downstairs area used to its full potential. The booksale area is open once a week for 4 hrs, and doesnt have to be co-located in the actual library. The multi-purpose (MP) room could be used as a true multi-purpose room. Seems odd that the MP room doesnt also have bookshelves or other things included. Overall, its a big failure for the library and this board 4 members of which were just reelected. I'm struck with the fact that the one person who was running and was against the ballot initiative somehow didnt garner enough votes. The recent electees are highly encouraged to chat with the rank and file about how to satisfy the overall need more effectively. Not another boondoogle. I'm open to renovation and an IT expansion. I also think that books overloading the shelves could also be a larger structural problem, and that might be a stronger justification for a new facility. Rarely circulating books ought to not be stored indefinitely on the shelves in high rent locations, but in cheaper remote storage locations. A joint venture with the Blake Transit Center to stock less valuable books might encourage reading there. Just a few thoughts, Ryan.

Steve Bean

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

The voters were told what the proponents' vision was, not asked about their own. To mangle a phrase: ask, don't tell. Another horse that left the barn early on: the proposal could have been presented in terms of a solution to problems, which then opened opportunities. Instead it was presented--pushed, actually, by ONDL, not so much by the AADL board--as "we want a new, way-better building that fixes some problems and you should agree to help pay for it because libraries are great". A request quickly became a campaign. Good ideas don't need a campaign; campaigns raise suspicion that "good" ideas are actually bad ideas. I'm glad the proposal failed. I'm open to voting for something in the future if a creative, affordable option is presented, but I'm not optimistic about such a possibility, mostly due to financial circumstances beyond our community's control (per my previous comments on coverage of this issue).


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Personally, I am glad to see the library ballot proposal fail and voted against it. $65 million is a wasteful and galling sum. I would have expected a more discussion and justification for the cost. is useful for to consider. I've been over there at the downtown location probably weekly or twice per week. I also have been to the Traver and Malletts Creek facilities. I think they are all somewhat overrun, but the downtown location is less overrun than Traver for example in my limited series of interactions. If we focus downtown, the computers in the kids areas are ancient and clunky, and perhaps more computers could be deployed upstairs for our daily users. That seems to be a real need. I have rarely seen the downstairs area used to its full potential. The booksale area is open once a week for 4 hrs, and doesnt have to be co-located in the actual library. The multi-purpose (MP) room could be used as a true multi-purpose room. Seems odd that the MP room doesnt also have bookshelves or other things included. Overall, its a big failure for the library and this board 4 members of which were just reelected. I'm struck with the fact that the one person who was running and was against the ballot initiative somehow didnt garner enough votes. The recent are highly encouraged to chat with the rank and file about how to satisfy the overall need more effectively. Not another boondoogle. I'm open to renovation and an IT expansion. I also think that books overloading the shelves could also be a larger structural problem, and that might be a stronger justification for a new facility. Rarely circulating books ought to not be stored indefinitely on the shelves in high rent locations, and perhaps would be better used if situated in remote stacks in much cheaper locations. A joint venture with the Blake Transit Center to stock less valuable books might encourage reading there. Just a few thoughts, Ryan.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

I am an avid library user and voted NO. I search and request all my books, dvds, etc through the electronic catalogue, and then have them delivered to my branch library where it is easy for me to pick them up. The library board needs to survey its users with a real survey that asks real questions about how people use the library, not a survey that is slanted to give them the answers they want to justify what they want. I do not need a 400 seat auditorium, commercial kitchen, and coffee shop in the downtown library at the cost of $100mil. There need to be more branches around Ann Arbor.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

I was ready to vote for the bond proposal until I looked at it closer. Replacing an aging facility and adding additional space are good ideas. What is not a good idea is expanding the uses beyond those that fall within the traditional mission of a library. Cafes, catering kitchens, and media facilities are completely unnecessary and the minute I saw those ideas being tossed around, they completely lost me.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9 p.m.

I'm as big a capital L liberal as there is, but I too, voted against the library's proposal. Given the population shift in town, the branch libraries probably serve a lot more families with children than the downtown building. All those high-rises going in will not be producing a ton of new patrons, either, as they are mostly UM students. Second, I had the feeling that the board was acting much like the Mayor's office in selecting that piece of art in front of city hall. The "We know best what we need and you will like it." kind of approach doesn't sit well with me. Third, there are many creative alternatives to doing more with what we have by engaging people who are not necessarily in lock-step with the AAPL. Fourth, the internet being what it is, they do not need to have the servers located in the main library. They could be anywhere else in town, and run by people that do just that.

G. Orwell

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

In my opinion, these elitists on the AADL board want to feel relavent in the era of the Internet. You will be better appreciated and respected if you spend minimal funds to update and improve the existing library. Try using common sense rather that using other people's money.

Donald Harrison

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

A lot has been said over the past few months against and in favor of the AADL's bond proposal. For 45% of greater Ann Arbor voters the case was made and for 55% it wasn't. And while I can't speak for everyone who advocated for the library proposal, I respect the voters of the greater Ann Arbor area, even when my vote doesn't land with the majority on an issue. I've appreciated many of the conversations about the importance of the public library in our community and the best ways to take care of it. I hope this heightened level of civic engagement continues on this issue well past the election (especially with real names and respectfully). The AADL board meetings are open to the public. I believe their leadership is fundamentally responsive and working to make good decisions for our community. I will look forward to seeing some of you there.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Unfortunately, they meet at the same time as the City Council, so active citizens have to pick and choose.

John Morgan

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

On average, I have probably used the downtown library several times a week for more than 15 years. I love the Ann Arbor library. But I voted against the bond because it's silly to talk about a massive expansion when the conference rooms that the downtown library has now are nearly always empty except when there are homeless people sleeping in them. Stick to what the library is supposed to be doing, namely providing books and media services. I also didn't like the idea that the Friends of the Library's book sale was to be, in effect, shut down. As a loyal customer there of many years, I found the bond proponents' disregard for the importance of the Friends, both to the library and the community, appalling.

John Morgan

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

Ryan, there were people who made the bond proponents aware that maintaining the Friends bookshop was important to some of us in the community, both in 2008 when it was originally proposed and this year. In the 2008 plans, as I recall, no space was provided for the bookshop whatsoever. The idea of a smaller "bookshop" located in the lobby was an attempt to placate those concerns, this time around. I have heard from some who have inside knowledge of the AADL's politics that there are people on the library board who dislike the bookshop and feel it is disruptive (a notion which I find ludicrous), and that they have been looking for an excuse to get rid of it. As it is, the amount of storage space allocated to the shop has been greatly reduced in recent years. I cannot be entirely certain if the bond proponents really do have it in for the bookshop, but certainly their proposals are consistent with that viewpoint. Anyway, the bookshop was just one of my concerns. There were plenty of other reasons to vote against this bond.

Ryan Burns

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

Ah, so that's an interesting insight that I'd missed. However, I think it's something that could have been addressed during the public design input. But at any rate, more exchanges like this would probably have been enlightening for everyone during the campaign, I'm sorry that didn't happen. I was fully of the impression that Friends would have superior place in the new building, not an inferior one, and I had thought that was the understanding of most proponents as well. Regarding the coffee, I think that was a relatively minor point in the plan, but still a worthy one. My view was simply that having people spend more time and enjoying the time they spend in the library was a good thing. If we could encourage more people to spend time at the library by simply providing a cup of coffee, I thought that would be good for our community. But I probably drink too much coffee so maybe it wasn't such a good idea ;-)

John Morgan

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8 p.m.

Another silly part of the plan was to install a full-service coffee shop in the library. Another coffee shop: just what downtown needs, right?

John Morgan

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Ryan, their plan was to have a few shelves in the lobby, yes (although they already do keep some shelves of books out during the week near the entrance, and have been doing so for years). But that's a far cry from what they have now, where they have an enormous space and can handle large-volume book donations, and have one of the most amazing selections to be found anywhere. What they were planning to do would have been tantamount to ending the sale, in comparison.

Ryan Burns

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

I am curious as to the idea that the Friends book sale was to be shutdown. Do you mean during construction, or permanently? The original document from the AADL board stated that the new library could have a Friends bookshop right in the lobby instead of in the basement, and that was my understanding of the plan.

Kathy Griswold

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

"Kathy Griswold, who headed up the Protect Our Libraries group that opposed the proposal, celebrated her team's win Tuesday night at Weber's Inn." Protect Our Libraries did not have a party. The local Democrats and Congressman Dingell held a party at Weber's and I was there celebrating the Dem victories. Other members of the "team" attended events sponsored by their political parties or stayed at home to watch the national news. Many issues more important than a local library bond were decided on Tuesday. Thanks to everyone who voted.

John Morgan

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

Thanks for spearheading this effort!

Ryan Burns

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

All in all, I think it's been an interesting couple months, and great to see everyone engaged in a debate about the future of libraries in general, and this one in particular. One thing all four campaigns agreed on: we love AADL and want to support it, while differing on how best to do that. One of the most interesting aspects of this discussion, for me, was to see the dichotomy in how people react to the idea of public libraries and their evolving role in our society. There is clearly some portion of the population that feels the library is being rendered irrelevant by the internet and ebooks, and that its time has passed. On the other hand, there was also a constituency that feared that the books would be eliminated in the new building, and the non-book part of the library's role didn't look like a library to them. I think the plan for the new building tried to compromise these viewpoints, by providing the same space for physical collections while expanding facilities which support an educated and literate citizenry through means other than the physical book, such as talks, workshops, computing access, children's activities and performance, activities which to some extent take place now, but which are awkwardly accommodated. However, I don't think either constituency was won over by the Yes campaign. So, I think this meta-dialog about what libraries are and where they are going is something that's important and something that will continue to be discussed across the country and internationally as well. As you could probably tell, I love libraries, and I think their role does encompass learning more broadly than the book, and includes their role as third place and platform for our community's intellectual and cultural life. But I also love the printed book, and connect with it in ways that can't be replaced by a PDF file floating around the cloud. Thanks for listening.

Anti Crankypants

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

Let's just get UM architecture students to redesign the library and pay them with dinner? You can't be serious.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Mr. Burns - There is most of a floor in the downtown library building that is not actually used, with a little bit of thinking, much of that space could be put to work for reading areas, study areas and meeting space. Also while I enjoy the Friends (or did until they put up the money for this bond campaign) - the fact that a large amount of space that could be used for meetings or reading is used to house their donated books makes me wonder if that space could not be re-purposed as well. Some open thinking/brainstorming on how to use the existing building is probably in order. If I were the AADL board, I would offer a challenge to the Architecture Students at the UofM to see what they can do to re-arrange the library. Maybe a $500 prize to the team that offers the best set of suggestions or maybe dinners at the Real Seafood Company?

Ryan Burns

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

I also think the objection that it's just too much money is a completely valid one. I might value the benefits more highly and thus think it's worth it, or think that the current moment is an economical one due to low costs, but if someone just thinks its just too expensive I understand and respect that decision.

Ryan Burns

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

My understanding of the meeting space situation, stems from the knowledge that the AADL freespace that is currently available can only be used 4 times a year, because of demand. To support regular meetups you really need to be able to meet monthly. What are these "meetings"? My own experience led me to see it as groups like programming meetups, which do get together monthly. For instance there's a Python users group which meets monthly (not at AADL), and I sometimes attend. People discuss programming problems, sometimes there's a presentation, sometimes people hack on some small project as an exercise, or sometimes even for a cause. That's just an example - I'm not saying hey lets build a new library so a few programmers can have a meeting. The library is a platform for the community to improve itself, and different people have different interests.

John Morgan

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Ryan, I might agree with you, except that I don't see how a coffee shop and even larger meeting places, when the existing ones are barely used, help to serve "an educated and literate citizenry." When so many areas of Michigan and the nation are struggling just to meet basic expenses, something as extravagant as this just doesn't make sense. The library already has all the other activities that you described.

Ryan Burns

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

I agree that the view that this was a DDA driven affair seemed to have a big impact. My personal view from what I saw is that that wasn't the case, and I think the Yes campaign didn't directly address that point because it just wasn't seen as being accurate. I think unfortunately, there was a lot of confusion around the difference between space for 'meetings' and space for 'programs', spaces which might be the same physical spaces at different times of day even, but which were interpreted differently by different community members. I personally saw the overflowing library programs as one of the big things to be addressed, and the idea of 'meeting space' as not that important. I think whatever happened next door with the conference center hotel thing, which I confess I was relatively oblivious of until recently, seems to really have gotten entangled with the library in a way I didn't expect or really understand.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I especially enjoyed your acknowledgement that "no" voters also love the library. Another meta-dialog that has not been much discussed is how this plan interleaved with other downtown development initiatives. The plan had a number of signals and overtones that indicated it was part of a broader development agenda. The conference center theme was part of this. Many commenters made the point that this plan was too downtown-centric, and having a major downtown business spokesperson as the bond proposal spokesperson underlined this issue. Some of the proponents have also been involved with the DDA and its opposition to a downtown park. I believe that these undertones played a part in the proposal's defeat. Many discussions ahead.

Robot Charles

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Yea! This is one of the few times a millage was voted down in Ann Arbor. The feeling of fiscal responsibility feels so nice and refreshing. I might do that horsey dance.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

I question the fiscal responsibility of anyone that dines at Real Seafood Co.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

I question their taste as well as their fiscal responsibility.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

Even if you own it?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

maybe you wanted to much in the building. a 400 people meeting place. sorry but you got some darn good library's around town. look at what you need vs want you want.

Sam Grant

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

I disagree with the statement that people who don't use the library very much probably voted against it. I am in the library several times a week. I have never found it to be inadequate. I think there needs to be a better utilization of space on the 3rd and 4th floors. I voted against it because I would like to challenge the library board to work within the structure they have. Just because a building's infrastructure is outdated doesn't mean it should be thrown in the landfill.

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

The misuse of the library mailing list for political promotion should be investigated. There is a state law that covers that, and it may have been a violation.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

With our present technology libraries are pretty much extinct. Reference books are outdated almost immediately, and the lending library has gone electronic. It is time to realize we are in the 21st century, and change with the times.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

Libraries are not extinct, their uses are just changing. The electronic equivalent of the reference section of the library is not free or affordable to the average person - you need a library to provide that subscription to the people living in the library's district. Computers and Internet access aren't free - you need to provide access to the Internet and word processing at libraries. People doing projects in school who need a place to meet are not always able to afford to meet at Starbucks. Libraries also lend eBooks, because the Kindle store and the iBookstore don't replace the library, they replace Borders Books. Libraries are important, and will continue to be important in ensuring everyone has access to knowledge. That said, none of these benefits to libraries justify spending $65 million dollars on a new library. The existing downtown library is working just fine, and can be renovated to meet changing needs.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

Perhaps the Library Board should be replaced by individuals that are more intune with technology and the fact that Ann Arbor exists outside the downtown area. Many of the posts refer to the undersized and perhaps neglected branch libraries. With proper technology infrastructure, the library could be developed into a library system with access of resources from many locations that would serve the needs of Ann Arbor far better than a single downtown facility. The library board needs visionaries and in a city like Ann Arbor with so many high tech companies and world class university finding the right board members should not be too difficult.

Widow Wadman

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

Ms. Davidge was the only non-incumbent that ran for the library board. She was also the lone person running for the board who was against the library bond proposal. She was not elected. The incumbents all won.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

There was an opportunity to replace one of the Library Board members on yesterday's ballot. A majority of voters didn't exercise that option.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

The defeat wasn't because of how they ran their campaign. It was because of (1) people not wanting to add to their property taxes and (2) because the argument about needing an auditorium sized room didn't fly because there are so many places to rent such space when needed and because such space in the library appeared to some to be a proposed substitution for the conference center than voters turned down previously. Now it's time to renovate wiring, etc. at the downtown library, instead of delaying such improvements. Did the bond issue campaign add to the delay? It's interesting that the photo Ellie Serras and others was taken at Real Seafood, which is owned by Serras' husband (and possibly Ellie Serras, too).


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:20 a.m.

I voted against the new library too, for the obvious reasons, but I would like to know what is of interest to you in where the pro-new-library team watched the election results come in. Irrelevant and petty.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

In the Ann voter guide, Ms. Leary commented about looking forward to a stunning library and attracting millions of visitors to Ann Arbor. I noted that exaggeration. I don't think I even need to explain why I disagree with


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Baker and the Board are tone deaf! The proposal was outlandish and irresponsible during this economic downturn. Outrageous that Serras and Leary still don't get it: work with what you have!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

The statement that they simply did not make enough of a case to voters is puzzling. Ann Arbor has, by far, the most educated electorate of any locality in the state, and people in Ann Arbor take voting seriously. The library wasn't just rejected in the townships, it was rejected throughout the City, too. Insulting the electorate probably isn't the best way to get what you want going forward. They've already stated that they can accomplish the same goals through renovation at a 10% savings to taxpayer and without tearing down a fairly new building. As others have said - get professional renovators, tell them your needs, figure out how much it costs, and make your case to the voters again. Don't just ask for a new library over and over again - that's insulting. Personally, more and more I am finding Ann Arbor unrecognizable. Don't get me wrong - development projects are necessary, and a sign of a healthy city - but do we really need to tear everything down and rebuild it? The YMCA, City Hall, the Library... where does it end? Is it necessary? Is it good for the community?

Cendra Lynn

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Since when are development projects necessary and a sign of a healthy city? What hokum!! Development should follow the citizens' needs, not plop down in any vacant space or in a place where something must be destroyed. Developers need to go find useful work. When we need something built, we can find architects, engineers, and contractors. The impetus should come from us, not from developers who can not have the city or its neighborhoods at heart.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

Don - I agree with you - the actual renovation costs will be much less than what they've said they'll be. My point was that they acknowledge they can do what they feel needs to be done to the library for less money (and 6.5 million dollars is a lot of money!), yet now insist that a renovation is impossible. Their arguments don't hold water.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

steven - The 90 percent is a canard. The engineers report did NOT look at a pure renovation of the existing structure. It started from the point of tear down all of these pieces and build new, then renovate the small portion that remains. A walk thru by a group of local renovation and construction professionals put the renovation only option in the 10 to 15 million dollar range. Now they did not poke into things, so there may be more hidden costs - but not an additional 40 million dollars of hidden costs. The board did not want to go down the renovation path - they wanted a new building - that was the starting point.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

Maybe that money they spent at Real Seafood Co. could of been better used as a donation to the library.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

I was in the building on Sunday and I just could not figure out why it would need to be torn down. Next time, try to work with what you have. It has nice open rooms with lots of natural lighting. We all know books are going to be like a typewriter very soon. Still around for those that want them, but the library should be looking to the digital future. Still plenty to offer at the library, but extra space is not something librarys will need. Books will be digital, customers will be borrowing via the internet. Maybe a technology bond for more faster computers/servers are what direction the library needs.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

This is a great point. I try to figure out the same thing for a lot buildings that are totally destroyed to make way for new, very expensive buildings. Try remodeling. The old YMCA was leveled for a crappy parking lot. It could of been re-used as inexpensive office space.

Peter Baker

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

@Northside, that's fair. I wasn't referring to people that voted against the proposal, but some of the people that have been campaigning hardest against it. I've had lots of conversations with people over the last few months, almost all of them reasonable, but the ones I've had that seemed most off the chains ("They're going to get rid of all the books!") also came from the people that were working hardest to campaign for other causes that I agreed with them on. I'll just say it, I was frustrated with some of the arguments against, and the conspiracy theories that kept coming up from the people I normally am in lock step with. I have no beef with people who had thoughtful reasons to vote against the bond, and do hope that people at least see that all we actually disagree on is how best to make Ann Arbor's library the best it can be.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Mr. Baker - While you may not be an employee of the library, your firm was actively involved and compensated for work done on behalf of the bond millage. So you have a financial interest in this proposal. I believe the public filing shows a payment of $30,000 to your firm for the website to support the bond millage.

Peter Baker

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.


A Voice of Reason

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Peter, do you work for the library system in Ann Arbor?

Peter Baker

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Please read my comment again, I was talking about the people campaigning.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

...well..that's not an apology for calling us "reactionary left" and people just looking for something to protest. I'm neither, I did no campaigning, and I voted no....still hearing a lot of arrogance and a consending attitude.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

I no longer live in Ann Arbor, but I think that part of what makes Ann Arbor so great is that its citizenry has been willing to fund these kind of cultural institutions, among other programs. Taxes are surely higher in Ann Arbor but then again the city is quite insulated from the recession, has very little violent crime, enjoys an increasingly diverse economy, and excellent cultural attractions. Perhaps $68 million could be better spent (returning AAPD to previous levels) but nonetheless, this seems like an unfortunate development. Hopefully not a trend.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

wolverine27 - The library operations millage is still in place, there will be no cuts to the library. This bond millage was purely about a new building. Many years the library in Ann Arbor runs a surplus on their operations millage, which shows that the good people of Ann Arbor value the library enough to provide it with funds to operate. The bond millage was a mistake, starting with the public meetings that felt like one sided discussions, and then the highly biased phone poll. As I pointed out above, there is much for the library board to think on. I hope they do. I could support a well thought out library bond millage, but it would have to improve the branch libraries first, since they see the heaviest traffic (on a per-square foot basis) and are far more crowded on a daily basis that the downtown library.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

@ Peter Baker: You seem like a cool person, someone who makes Ann Arbor a unique, interesting town. But I've found your comments on this issue to be troubling, especially the talk of a "reactionary left" that is "just looking for something to protest." There's plenty for the left to protest: outsourcing of jobs, big money domination of politics, the eroding of reproductive rights, the fight for gay/lesbian rights, etc. I could go on but hopefully you get the point. Could you find a way to advocate for what you believe in without trashing those who simply have another view? Maybe we just didn't agree with the library's rationale or think that this isn't the economy in which to spend $65 million-plus for a new building.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Well, the new Stadium Bridge is about to be completed and it'll look nice in addition to improving that infrastructure. But it took a $20 million grant from the federal government to get the job done. I think we all understand that comparison: a new bridge for $20 million (which Ann Arbor could not raise) and a new (entirely theoretical at this point) new library for $65 million with that amount of obligation going to tax payers. Still, if the fine people on the AADL had not brought this up and the library becomes widely criticized as being aged / inadequate, we'd blame the AADL for negligence. They were just doing their jobs. Oh, and I think anyone who spent their own money on this campaign deserves to get it back -with thanks for their devotion. Where do we send donations?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

Tru2Blu76: You are mischaracterizing the Stadium Bridge project. It is not that Ann Arbor "could not raise" the money for the bridge, but rather that the City deliberately allowed the bridge to go into disrepair (to the point of making it hazardous) so that federal dollars would pay for the project. It is an apt comparison only in that the attitude of spending other people's money is easy to do. Spending it wisely is another consideration entirely.

Jack Eaton

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

TruBlu76, in response to your question "Where do we send donations?, that information is posted on this page: She saved us $100 million, so it might be appropriate to send her a check.

Widow Wadman

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

The first paragraph is great. A bridge that will be used by far more people every day than the library / conference center would serve will cost far less.

Widow Wadman

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Here are the names of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library. Please tell them that we don't want our membership fees going to support political campaigns. 2012-2013 Friends Board of Directors: Pat McDonald, President Pat Settimi, Vice-President Lara Thomas, Secretary Mary Borkowski, Treasurer Mary Kay Cotter, Membership Chair Kathy Ciesinski Sue Fraser Fred Mayer Paul Morel De Bora McIntosh Sheila Rice Clare Canham-Eaton

L. C. Burgundy

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

--- She said just ask the moms who bring their kids into the children's room and don't have a place to sit or the teens who come in and don't have a computer to use. --- Gee, I somehow think these kinds of shortcomings are fixable for less than $100 million+. Board, we understood the proposal, such as it was. This bond failed because Ann Arborites do not cut big checks for public works projects of dubious value for the sake of a pretty building. I think there was serious doubt about the ability of the library board to actually come up with a design that would last longer than, say, 20 years. Information access is still changing rapidly and a new giant brick edifice would quickly be functionally obsolete. $100 million+ would buy an awful lot of digital information access.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

when the expansion of parking fees extends to evening hours,and rates climb, the moms with kids might find branch lib use a better deal....moms and kids probably are living in non-downtown locations anyway, so it would be a win -win to enhance, or even add branch libraries. The fees to park are only going up which is like a tax in addition to this millage--we know DDA probably isn't interested in doing much at branches of the lib.Weren't we told the need for this was "infrastructure and technology" we're hearing about adding chairs?? A little more from certain people reviewing and establishing goals might be in order.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Other than a great spot for homeless people to hang out at, I don't see a lot of use for the downtown library anyway.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

I totally agree. Who wants to drive downtown and park. I only go their if what I am looking for is not at any of the branches and then, I will also wait. As I said, the library board is out of touch with people because they have their parking passes and have the time to go downtown.

Widow Wadman

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

Though I find your comment amusing, I don't agree.

Cathy Doran-McMillion

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

The west branch of the library could really use some help. I'd really like to see it upgraded. Parking is free there too! The focus of this proposal was solely on the downtown library.

Nice in A2

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

I'm a little bothered by their response. I love the library and use the downtown one the most. I read their proposals carefully and came to the conclusion that their case was not convincing. Now I learn that they are not willing to listen to my voice and are going to go ahead with planning along the same lines as before. I hope this is just a first blush reaction on their part. Their next step should be to ask for views from the public with an eye to their frequent users, particularly their frequent downtown users. Had they done that they would have gotten my view on the matter -- reuse, recycle and keep our wonderful downtown library.

Donald Harrison

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Despite how a few responses in this election-night article may have come across, I do think the AADL leadership is very much listening to patrons and voters. I visit the main downtown library regularly and am concerned about some major decisions they'll have to make about its future. Perhaps I'll see you at one of their upcoming board meetings, which are open to the public.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

"Can't think of any missteps..." Really? I saw a bunch. Starting with the 18 minute video showing 1-2 Million worth of plant improvements to justify a 65 Million dollar bond. And it went downhill from there. Also, hanging out at real Seafood to watch the results? I can't afford Real Seafood. Many others can't. Show some humility (Fleetwood!). Even the auto execs knew to drive the DC (versus their jets) to ask for Gov't money. Don't get me wrong. I think there's a case to be made for a new library. But you failed to make it. Big time. And got folks angry at you, to boot. So it will be hard doing it again anytime soon.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

To be even fairer, I think she's married to Dennis Serras, owner to some degree in Main Street Ventures.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

To be fair, I can't afford Weber's either...

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

The arrogance shown here is amazing, but not unexpected. Basically, they're saying the reason it failed is because we're all too dumb to understand (that's what's meant by the euphemism, "we didn't make our case clearly.") Yeah, that attitude will certainly help you out next time you ask us for more money. Unfortunate for you I have a long memory. Also, I would suggest that if you can't raise $7000 first for a campaign but have to put it on your credit card instead, then there just might not be enough buyers for what you're selling.

Britain W.

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

According to the article, it was Griswold who financed the "No" effort on her credit card. To be fair, it would be difficult to be sure after scrolling this far down -- even with your memory.

Patricia Lesko

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

This piece about the failure of the AADL bond proposal ( presents a less simplistic perspective on the "What's next?" question. The Our New Library PAC's effort was an expensive, slick marketing campaign dressed up as hipster grassroots support of technology, the AADL and "the kids." I would point out that developers and privately-owned business donors to the PAC are out over $30,000, and library board/school board members out another $5,000. The nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor Library? That group is out $25,000 that should have gone to programming and the purchase of materials. Former AADL Trustee and attorney Dave Cahill alleges the Our New Library PAC broke the law in an effort to get this bond question passed, and that the AADL Executive Director violated the library's privacy policy (and federal law, as a result). It would be worthwhile to ask the Michigan Elections Bureau, IRS and the FTC to rule on the allegations Cahill (and others) have raised. It was brought to my attention that the Michigan Theater ran videos in support of this campaign, yet that donation/expense did not appear on the PAC's October 26, 2012 campaign finance statement. Finally, the Our New Library "grassroots" effort including employing local high school kids to drop lit at $150/500 pieces in the final days of the campaign. If Leah Gunn, Prue Rosenthal and others wonder, "What's next?" the obvious answer would be for the ladies to get out and drop their own lit, so people can tell the AADL Board and DDA Board members directly they have no intention of supporting a $110-$130M bond to provide conference facilities, espressos, catered meals, and video production facilities to the community.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

A $65 million bond issue in Ann Arbor works out to about $600 per head. When I visit the downtown library now, I see nothing that needs my $600 more than I do. If there is a case to be made justifying the expense, I never heard it. I've routinely used libraries all over the world for decades, and the only thing that really stands out about the downtown branch now is the surprisingly high percentage of cranky librarians.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

It's "only" $600 per person if you calculate the cost at $65 million, or before financing costs. If the bond ends up costing $100 million at the end of 30 years, it brings the total cost per person closer to $900!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Funny how people dont\'t want to spend when it actually comes from their pockets, but a "free lunch" from the govt - no one is going to pass up. I am joining the 47% as of now.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

I just don't think that now is the right time to be spending $65 million (or more) on a new library, and that's why I voted no. We're currently witnessing a tremendous wave of technological change, and that wave has not yet crested. Five years from now we may have a better idea of what a future library should look like, and of the kind of services it will need to provide to its patrons. Simply put, the timing for this bond proposal just wasn't right. Ask us again in 2017 — and offer a detailed plan next time. Maybe by then the need for a new library will be obvious to all.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

I agree this isn't the time to spend that amount of money (which could be double $65 million with overruns and debt service costs). Also, I think that other needs of the city are so great that if we spend more during the next few years it should be on basic services. It's unlikely that the financial positions of Ann Arborites will make such a library proposal more attractive even in 5 years.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

I'm hearing all kinds of talk about No No and no....but I have a question: What is the library's function, both official and un-official? Officially, It serves as a library, a place for information and a resource for media loaning, but it also serves other purposes: a meeting place, a community center that Ann Arbor continues to need. In my mind the jury is still out on the cost and if it would be possible to do something with this library to update it. The fact remains that it is old, and outdated and in need, at the very least, modernization. I have been to a few meetings there and it was standing room only. Talking about "sore losers" and tax hikes etc doesn't address the issue: this library is in need of modernization and it is a focal point for individuals meeting and using the resources. What makes Ann Arbor a great place to live and work: its community amenities - ALL of them. Don't cut off Ann Arbor's nose to spite it's face. Remember, what attracts people to move to Ann Arbor. Something will need to be done, perhaps not in an economic downturn where everyone is guarding their pocket book, but as things begin to turn around, we need to address this.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

How much do you think it costs to build a state of the art building, with buildout? For 100,000sq ft maybe $20 million. Make it gilded and it would be $30 million. They were not only asking for a lot more than that, they wanted a blank check. The people in Ann Arbor support the libraries, just not wasteful handouts with nonexistent details.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

No it doesn't need anything. Only the people that work there think that and there are plenty of places to meet in this town and plenty of libraries in town. And, it is not the economy. It is the outrageous amount of money this community pays for its public library system when all the public schools have libraries, we have 4 branches, a main library and access to the University of Michigan library system if needed. When is enough, enough?

Ashley Zimmerman

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Griswald is exactly right. Why would I vote yes to them spending up to 65 million dollars when there is NO clear plan in place? If my husband came to me and said, I want to update our kitchen, can I spend 10 thousand dollars? I would say... um, before I tell you yes, can we talk about what we're going to do? Also, I completely agree that a new downtown library does not help all of Ann Arbor. I never go there because I hate paying the parking and navigating the city traffic. If they can present a case to me on how this new building will help me and the rest of our community (that doesn't live downtown) then I will consider it. We need better library systems and services before we need a new downtown building. If Leary believes that the building is going to require costly updates if it's not re-built, then she needs to make that case to Ann Arbor, not just ask for a blind 65 million.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

After having South Fifth Ave closed for a couple years, it was kind of too soon to put drivers through that again. I agree with those suggesting enhancement of branches. Easier and cheaper to park.

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

I can't be the only one who thinks the outrageous threats of a rennovation costing 90% of a new library were intended to coerce voters into approval. Such a plan would still require voter approval, no?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

The 90% claim is probably an accurate statement. I have seen this with building renovation vs new construction projects over the years. The biggest issue with this "request" was the complete lack of details. Give us $65,000,000 without even a drawing of this new $65,000,000 facility. Next time, develop a plan and present it to the people. This election cycle demonstrated that details are required if you expect to persuade voters to vote in your favor. I also agree with the comments about possible investigations to misuse of funds and information. Fraud should not and can not be tolerated. If true, then those guilty need to be held accountable.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

Exaggerated claims like that one led to my no vote.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

To Ms. Serras, Ms. Gunn, and Ms. Rosenthal: the majority has spoken. some of us are really tired of being treated like ignorant children when we are neither. let it go!!!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Well said!

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Backlash from the ill-conceived and bungled DDA parking structure also seems to have been a factor. Too much, too soon, with too little transparency.

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

It sounds like some bitter library proponents want to investigate to determine who the naysayers are and punish them, and their businesses. I see a lot of quotes in the article from proponents who are in complete denial. They were asking for an incredibly lavish facility with absurd cost per square foot - more expensive even than other top libraries around th country. There were also hints that they wanted to compete against local businesses in the expanded service offerings, but they also kept those details mostly secret.

David Cahill

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

No missteps in the "yes" committee's campaign? Taking $25,000 of funds charitably donated to the FAADL helped sink the bond. Ditto the e-mail blast from the Library to its patrons. If and when these people try again, I hope they run a clean campaign.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

why is Margaret Leary not getting it ? It is not this hard - the people of Ann Arbor do not agree with her and her followers - put it to rest and start acting on behalf on the Ann Arbor residence and start listing.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

If the current Library Board members fail to acknowledge the message given to them by the voters and continue to push their vision of what this community "needs", maybe we ought to pay more attention to who serves on this elected Board.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Thank You Voters!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Bill, you are welcome, I was happy to see this insanity go down in flames. Ms. Serras, quit your sulking, put on your big-girl panties and deal with it. "you can't always get what you want"(Mick Jagger)"


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

"But I think we sort of overlooked the reactionary left, I guess. It's sort of a weird alliance of the property owners in town and the people who wanted something to protest." Wow, I didn't know the reactionary left could get so... touchy. I'm a Republican and decided on my 'No' vote almost instantly. Here's the thing: not one municipality- NOT ONE- approved this millage proposal. This has nothing to do with landlords and signage, you just saw the entire city of Ann Arbor and townships shoot this idea down. NOBODY thought it was a good idea. If you're doing a postmortem, I would think you'd start with that fact and work forward, not wring your hands about 'special interest' money. Here's a clue- everyone had a reason to reject this proposal. People who live downtown don't want streets locked up for two more years (we just went through that). People who live outside downtown find it difficult to get down there- who would go downtown just to get a book/DVD? That's where the postmortem needs to start. The library system does a great job of making stuff available to people through branch libraries- I think that's the future for Ann Arbor.

Linda Peck

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

If the people who want a new library are "gearing up" for the next onslaught, perhaps they did not hear very well the choice of the people yesterday. It is an idea that the majority don't want, this building a 65 million dollar library downtown. Just because some people want something very badly does not mean it is a good idea. What the next step should be is to make the library we have the best that it can be. Make the necessary repairs and make the best use of the huge open spaces that exist there already, unused or underused.

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

The cost of used smart phones that can access any of the free wireless that is already available in downtown Ann Arbor, have fallen below $100.00. The new non-Apple pad devices are about $200.00. If we want people to have access to information, let's go in the direction that the free market is already going in the 21'st century with 24/7 personal access from anywhere, rather than a 19th century brick and mortar model.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

Why did public libraries come to being? So all the people of a town did not have to buy an individual copy of a book they wanted to read. That gets expensive. Free WiFi is not everywhere in this area and it would cost a ton of money to make it so. This is where the Libraries come in, just like the books they lend, they lend connectivity. Free markets leave out all the people that can't afford the "free" market.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

i would like to know just how many people use the library every day? how many people from outside the city actually go there? how often? for what? whose using the one on oak valley drive? the people in scio and pittsfield twps. don't need to go downtown unless they need something that isn't available at the oak valley one. the library board needs to prove to me that a $65 million dollar upgrade is really needed and at this point im not convinced!!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

murph, I use the downtown library each and every day.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

"The current library is too small, too inefficient, too impossible to make better, and if we didn't convey that to the voters, then that's unfortunate." You're right you didn't make that case. especially the "too impossible to make better" part.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

That's because a case can't honestly be made for it.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

DonBee - thank you for your articulate and thoughtful posts regarding the library these past weeks, and the many others who used reason to make their points. I agree with DonBee about thinking differently about the "main" library needing a downtown location. Ann Arbor's "main" post office is not downtown and people seem to be okay with its location. Also, there has been no discussion about using the small parking lot immediately behind the library (near the credit union) to build an addition on to the library. Do the employees really need their own parking lot? Could the library lease the necessary spaces from the adjacent, huge, underground parking structure?

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

It is interesting how Ann Arbor is a conservative majority on issues of an economic nature, where the issues can be clearly defined and there is not a candidates' personality involved. I think the ballot initiatives that were rejected also reflected that, except for #1, where I don't think that a number of voters understand the alternative, because Michigan has yet to let a city go into bankruptcy, but has instead bailed them out or emergency managed them. On this, I think that what needs to be done is to let a city go through bankruptcy and then the unions and pension funds will be clamoring for an Emergency Manager Law.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Ann Arbor is by no means conservative when it comes to economic issues. This is the same city that just voted overwhelmingly for Obama, Stabenow, Heiftje, and an entirely Democratic city council. The no vote simply means that this left-leaning town saw through the transparent rationale for the new library and also felt the timing was bad. This is about one issue, not a change in the city's overall political views.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

You're exactly right on Prop 1. I voted for it because I don't think people realize how awful bankruptcy may be for a city. Now we may have the chance to find out.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

"She said she put more than $7,000 in expenses for the campaign on her own credit card and she's now soliciting donations to pay herself back" While I appreciate the effort Kathy put into this, the credit card thing doesn't seem particularly fiscally responsible. I hope she can afford the 7K.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Why are the backers called special interests. This is not Matty Maroun trying to derail a bridge for his own gain. These people just wanted to see the ballot proposal pass. There is no giant monied conspiracy here.

Peter Baker

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

My taxes go toward the branch libraries as well.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

Right, so EVERYONE should pitch in to improve YOUR area, since, well, you are putting a dime in. Got it. So did everyone else it seems.

Peter Baker

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

It's my dime too.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

I hear you on that one, Bob. Peter is all about having everyone fix his neighborhood up to his liking on their dime.

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

That was in response to the claim that there are unnamed individuals funding the opposition- the so-called special interests. IMO, Ellie Serras and Peter Baker are special interests, but they had other people's money to work with. Next time they won't have the big war chest.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

What will a library look like in 30 years from now? Surely not what they are envisioning building now... We built a new high school that we can't afford, thank heavens the community was smarter this time around! I'm all for libraries, I love the main NYC library, Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh,, etc... and they are not new but still highly functional and heavily used.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

Basic Bob - And stop supporting your own servers and server room. That ship has sailed. Google, Amazon, Salesforce can all provide server space for 1/50th the cost.

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

The libraries you love will be 30 years older then and people will still go. They were designed before the Internet, too. Hint- gut the conduit and pull in fiber optic cable. It's smaller, safer, and faster.

A Voice of Reason

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

Give the Friend's Money back to the library! Oh, you wasted it on a millage campaign. BAN THEM FROM THE LIBRARY.

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

A Friend of the Library is no friend of mine.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Wow, the main backers of the $65 million building still don't get it. They lost because people realized that a new building wasn't necessary, despite their best efforts to spin it as such. I'd like to hope that in the coming weeks this reality will set in with them, but that doesn't sound likely. As for annarbor's coverage? It continues to put way too much emphasis on the donations made to the No side. Perhaps the No side won simply because a lot of average people in Ann Arbor did not think a new building was necessary and were upset that it was being requested at a time when the economy remains shaky?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

No, apparently it failed because the voters are too stupid to understand the enlightened thinking of the New Downtown Library committee. Gosh, I wish I was as smart as Margaret Leary.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

And for the record, my No vote was decided before there was any organized campaign against the new building. I read the library's documents and saw a series of exaggerations clearly intended to convince the public a new building was absolutely necessary.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

What now? STOP TRYING TO WEASEL MONEY OUT OF TAX PAYERS!!!!!!!!! That is 100% what this project was intended to do.....what I want to know is who was getting the kickbacks from all of it. Who was going to make the profit...

John Floyd

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Elsewhere in, brimble made this well-put statement: "Ultimate results notwithstanding, there is clearly not strong consensus for an open checkbook for pet projects any longer in Ann Arbor. Both the millage for art and the one for the downtown library building demolition and reconstruction represent spending ideas outside the core of services. It isn't that the community doesn't value public art or libraries, but rather that we value those things hand-in-hand with fiscal sensibility. We have to make real choices -- real decisions -- about a prudent and responsible course going forward, so that we can have a vibrant community and be able to afford to live in it." Wish I had written this!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

I was against the proposal for a large number of reasons, all flaws in the proposal: 1) The conference center - I am sorry - this is not the purpose of the library. Dump the 400 seat auditorium and focus on good meeting rooms that are flexible space. I would not mind if there was a space that could be opened to seat 400 people in folding chairs - but normally was broken into 6 to 20 spaces for study rooms, and small classrooms. Let the Michigan Theater hold the big events. 2) The media suites - CTN has good media suites, partner with them and stop trying to take their place. 3) The idea that the existing building can not be made to work. Get a real renovation team in to look at the space, let them make a proposal, better yet get two or three in. Let them come up with some concepts - the fact that there was no renovation only look at the library building was a clear miss. 4) Think about where the people are - they are not downtown - they are scattered around the district - what do you do to improve access for everyone, but the real question is how do you improve access for the low income children which mostly are living on the edges of the district, out of bus range and without much in the way of transportation? Do you improve the branches? Bring back book mobiles? Partner with AAPS (which you used to be part of) to deliver books to the schools? Provide after school staffing of school libraries to keep them open late for children to study in? Think - dig deep and think about this issue. 5) How do you upgrade (renovate/replace) the library without closing it for a year or two? The argument that the library is critical is defeated by the idea of losing it for a long period of time. Temporary homes are not the answer. Yes, you are worried about AAPS wanting the site, well go work it out with them in advance. (cont)

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, your ideas often seem to say what I am thinking, but you present them so much better than I would! I greatly appreciate everything you post on, your insights are very valuable!

Stephen Landes

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

DonBee -- Thank you for your fine posts re the Library. Good thinking, clear writing. Too bad you're not on the AADL board.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Great post, but I do think the library should be downtown...


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

DonBee, well said. two gigantic thumbs WAY UP.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

DonBee - thank you for your articulate and thoughtful posts regarding the library these past weeks. I agree with you about thinking differently about the "main" library needing a downtown location. Ann Arbor's main post office is not downtown and people seem to be okay with its location. Also, there has been no discussion about using the small parking lot immediately behind the library (near the credit union) to build an addition on to the library. Do the employees really need their own parking lot? Could the library lease the necessary spaces from the adjacent, huge, underground parking structure?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

(cont from above) 6) So much of this was "Trust us" - no concepts, no preliminary sketches, no concept designs - nothing. We want "X" dollars and trust us it is the right amount of money and we will figure it out. Trust the people to understand what you are doing, people in Ann Arbor are NOT dumb, don't treat them that way. Include them in the discussions - really include them. 7) Think about this - in the long term does the main library have to be downtown? Could it be out on Jackson road or down by Briarwood? Does it have to be a purpose built building or are there buildings (e.g. KMS Fusion) that might be renovated for the purpose. Dig deep and think about what the library really needs. Maybe the building downtown is fine as the downtown branch. 8) Many cities who built new libraries tried to build "palaces" - architecturally significant buildings - most of them are failing at being libraries - Seattle is a good case in point. Can you design a sustainable, functional building that does not have a lot of bells and whistles? 9) Be up front - using the Friends of the Library money and a "stealth" talking head that was paid, but not announced hurt your campaign. People donate to the Friends to see an improvement in the library directly not to prime the pump for a millage. The Friends will now probably see a decline in donations - fixing this damage is important. 10) Acknowledge the legacy. AAPS is still paying the bond from the 1990 addition, don't argue there is no bond. 11) Remember tax payers only have one wallet. Money spent on the library - can NOT be spent on police and fire. The idea that the library is separate is dumb, because the tax payers don't have separate wallets to pay for the library vs. the public safety. You need to convince people that the priority should be the library. I suspect there will be a lot of disagreement on this pair of posts. But I offer it in a constructive fashion.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Clearly, there is not strong consensus for an open checkbook for pet projects any longer in Ann Arbor. Both the millage for art and the one for the downtown library building demolition and reconstruction represent spending ideas outside the core of services. It isn't that the community doesn't value public art or libraries, but rather that we value those things hand-in-hand with fiscal sensibility. We have to make real choices -- real decisions -- about a prudent and responsible course going forward, so that we can have a vibrant community and be able to afford to live in it. Does that make me a left-wing reactionary? As others have observed, come to the voters with a plan for a reasonable renovation of the existing Downtown facility, coupled with a solution which provides a real West location and adds another neighborhood branch -- one which expands the real reach of the system -- and you'll have my wholehearted support.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Did big property owners come out against this bond? Every property owner I know, big and small, came out against this bond. Does it matter who we are or how much property we own? Not at all. One person, one vote. Now, I fully expect the library board to raise the existing assessment to its maximum, but that is still better than this additional bond. Thank you to everyone who had the sense to vote NO, and I hope the AADL Board does something about the west side branch.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

P.S. Ryan, will you please stop taking pictures of things on the floor?

Bob W

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Pursue the satellite approach. Why force e everyone to a downtown location with traffic and parking issues? We don't need a "book palace" with additional luxuries and amenities. My biggest complaint is nobody thought outside of the box (current library) and next time we are presented with the costs, include the total interest over the life of the bond(s). This should be done on all bond funded issues. We ignore the interest as though the money is free.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

So now we get the community involved and begin the process anew without some outlandish milage sponsored for developers. We can upgrade our existing library to meet the needs of citizens while also ushering in 21st century technology AND NOT spending 165 million dollars. Thank you!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Hey, library board: Why don't you do something about your dismal west branch? It's the one that is crammed into a small rental bay of an old shopping center (just in case you didn't realize, notice, or comprehend).


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

I totally agree, and I have expressed exactly this frustration about the west branch in the past. All the other branch libraries have been moved into purpose-built new buildings while the west branch has been neglected. And to me, the most infuriating part of the new library plan was that it called for the main branch to be closed during construction, with the branch libraries taking up the slack. If you're going to do that, can we at least have a decent west branch first? One that doesn't smell like sewage every time I go in there?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

very good point - I think our library board is getting to old by age of the members we needs younger board members who actually have an understanding of what the future will entail and demand - neighborhood libraries and new technology - ever heard of ibook - Margret and supporter wake up or step down


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Personally, I spent a lot of time researching this issue before voting 'no.' I find it somewhat insulting that Ms. Leary assumes that voters like me acted solely out of ignorance. I understand the need for a new building. But this proposal was far too extravagant, especially considering that most people use the branches. If the board really wants to try again (and I hope they do), I would suggest scrapping the cafeteria and replacing it with parking validation. There are plenty of places to get a sandwich downtown. I love my library; I love libraries in general. It made me a little sick to vote against this. But from my perspective, this proposal was more about another trophy protect for the DDA than it was about serving the legitimate needs of library patrons. I look forward to voting yes on the next proposal, assuming the new version is a little more grounded in in reality.

Donald Harrison

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

I appreciate your frustration about making an informed 'no' vote. I think the community members advocating for the AADL's proposal to rebuild (myself included) clearly did not make the case. That's on us. And while I can't speak for everyone, I respect the voters of the greater Ann Arbor area, even when my vote isn't in the majority on an issue. I appreciate hearing your perspective, along with many of the debates about the AADL's proposal over the past couple months. I hope this will carryover into more civic engagement about some important decisions facing our public library. The AADL board meetings are open to the public and I believe their leadership is fundamentally responsive and listening to patrons.

Josh Thiele

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Well put. I can relate to feeling a little guilty for voting against it. A lot of people I know were all about it.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

This. Thank you for articulating what I think a lot of us feel.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Why can't we keep what we have? Libraries seem to be vestiges for people who aren't willing to pay for music, books or magazine subscriptions, need a warming station or want a cheap place to congregate. I'm not sure where they fit going forward because they are becoming a secondary research option. It's great for people who want to take advantage of these things but not by shaking down everybody else to pay for it.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

I live on the westside. There was nothing in this proposal for me other then a tax hike. The library board, by not mentioning the fact that the Westside/Westgate branch is way too small and cramped, showed me that they do not care about the people they serve. If you compare at the main branch and the westside branch, it is obvious that the westside branch is much older and should have priority in being replaced, or redone (especially when it is compared to the other branches).


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

I always thought that the Oak Valley branch was a replacement for the Jackson Rd. branch. They're only 2.5 miles apart.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

But watch out what they might do to your library if they upgrade it. The Traverwood branch is clean inside, but not much like a traditional thought of a library. It is sort of cold and metallic. And the parking & drive-up options are horrible and so unfriendly to drivers, families with small kids, really anybody. Hugely disappointing. I actually avoid going there because compared to the previous location and ease of access & use, the new place is a -10.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

@deb, I agree with you. I live on the Westside and use the West branch to pick up books I put on reserve mostly because their selection of new books is abysmal. The books they have are old and the space is very small and depressing. I've been to the downtown library maybe once in the past three years. I often either buy a book I'm looking for or download it to my iPad if I can't find it at this branch, which is often.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

I had already decided on NO before the Protect our libraries campaign. Again, have some common sense and use a high school auditorium to have a meeting. Or a church. You say you want to reach lower income people, then go to where they live, because its not downtown on Main. If this nonsense comes up again, I will vote NO with a louder voice- and join the campaign as well.oh, and I would get yourself a refund from Peter Baker.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

meant to add "LOL" after that quote


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

"There is a case to be made," a2 grateful added. "The current library board's listening and comprehension abilities are too small, too inefficient, too impossible to make better, and if voters didn't convey that to the board, then that's unfortunate."

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : noon

"By the end of the night, they had accepted defeat, but they weren't budging on their position that a new downtown library is needed. "It means we didn't make our case to the voters, but it doesn't mean there is not a case to be made," said Margaret Leary, president of the AADL's governing board". Ms. Leary just doesn't get it. NO means NO. No to moving forward with no concrete plan other than 'trust us'. No to letting the DDA highjack the library for a 400 seat 'auditorium' that would function as a conference center that was previously rejected. No to an elite core of local politicos who more and more from taxpayers and who don't realize the local political sands have shifted due to their own lack of inclusiveness and openness. And now let's see if the Friends of the Library violated campaign finance rules with their non profit's 'donation' of $25K to the YES campaign. And, enough of this silliness that somehow you are a book burner is you aren't in lock step with plans such as this. We love literature and books and LIBRARIES just as much as the YES people do. Hopefully Gunn and Serras and other political high rollers have learned an important lesson here.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

For perhaps the first time, I find myself basically in agreement with Mr. Goldsmith. If the city would attend to our most basic needs such as fixing the damn roads, which are some of the worst of any municipality of its size that I've ever seen, and I've seen and driven upon quite a few in this and many other states and other countries and even quite recently; not cutting back on essential services such as police and fire; returning our curbside leaf pick-up; plowing the smaller "less trendy" streets; and diverting all that so-called "mandatory" art money to important infrastructure needs esp. in this economic downturn, that would be a far better use of our shrinking resources and growing property taxes. I love libraries and have been a regular and frequent user of all the branches including downtown, and at this stage, this proposal was uncalled for and unneeded. No ad campaign swayed me one way or the other, although if the opposition ads helped swing the tide against this proposal, so much the better. I was very surprised and pleased that finally a millage was actually voted down in Ann Arbor!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

"too impossible to make better..." Really? That's nonsense.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

Library? I haven't used one of those since a last minute run for a book report I did't tell my mom about back in middle school. Now I have iBooks.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

That's what sealed it for me. 95% of the points they would say we needed a new library for I replied with "The internet does that better for free."


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

The voters of this city have spoken. What part of no don't the people pushing this waste of money understand. They'll waste more money by putting it on the ballot again in the future.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

"It's sort of a weird alliance of the property owners in town and the people who wanted something to protest." Seriously, Baker? It's an alliance of a bunch of people being taxed to freaking DEATH while this town continues building and renovating and wasting and coming up with new and fascinating ways to take more money to do more unnecessary things. Again, LOVE the library. Use it. Visit it. Don't need to trear it down and rebuild it. DO SOMETHING WITH THAT EMPTY UNUSED TOP FLOOR!!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Exactly my opinion. I have consistently voted to support schools, parks, libraries, art, you name it, but at some point it just becomes too much. I didn't want something to protest, and I didn't change my opinion because of any ad campaign. I checked my bank account and my tax bill, then looked at the library that I use at least once/month, and decided pretty quickly that we don't need to spend $65 million for a new one. With the changes brought about by digital media, the library board needs to tell us specifically how they are going to adapt to new uses before asking for any new millage.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Since it's already so quiet up there, It might be nice if the top floor could be made into a reading room. Grosse Pointe Woods library has that, and it's a wonderful space.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

The people have voted!

Thom in Ann Arbor

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Dear Library Board: It seems the people have spoken. And the last-minute ad blitz had nothing to do with it. So now, please find ways to upgrade/renovate/improve the current building to meet 21st century needs. You know you're not going to to get $65 million to do it, but I bet the people would be willing to fund quite a bit for an upgrade. Oh, and by the way, DDA folks, we're not interested in the convention center aspects of the new plan, either. If a convention center is what's wanted, propose it and see what the citizenry has to say about it. All for now!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

"It means we didn't make our case to the voters, but it doesn't mean there is not a case to be made," said Margaret Leary, president of the AADL's governing board... What part of "NO" did you not understand? You made your case loud and clear. Deal with it.

Chip Reed

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:25 a.m.

Talk about sore losers! If the national republican party takes the same attitude as the backers of the defeated library proposal, then we're in a world of trouble...


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Funny thing about compromise/negotiations. It always takes both sides to do it!

Stupid Hick

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

LOL! you think the Republicans are ever going to give up trying to kill Medicare, Social Security, and labor unions?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

So now, lets have all the same people argue and debate how to put it back on a future ballot where the people will once again defeat it. Plain and simple: there is a disconnect between what the Library Board wants and what e people are willing to give them...not some "inability to understand"...

Donald Harrison

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

I think a lot of us would like to see a more diverse set of serious candidates for civic service seats, whether public library, WCC, city council or mayor.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

Time for more diversity on the Library Board...

Donald Harrison

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

You make a good point. Hopefully more people stay involved with the issues and decisions facing our public library system. Their meetings are open to the public.