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Posted on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:18 a.m.

Ann Arbor library officials: 'We're no longer designing public library structures for the book'

By Amy Biolchini


The Ann Arbor District Library in downtown Ann Arbor. Library officials listened to public comments Wednesday night during a forum about their wish to tear down the existing building and construct a new facility 50,000 feet larger.

Amy Biolchini |

About 40 people gathered at the Ann Arbor District Library’s main branch Wednesday night to determine if library officials’ claims that they need a new building were fiction or nonfiction.

The session was the third of three public meetings officials have organized recently to further gauge the public’s opinion, as voters would have to pass a $65 million bond proposal for construction in November should plans move forward.

“We want the library to provide 21st century service to the community and you can’t provide that in a mid-20th century building,” said Margaret Leary, president of the Ann Arbor District Library Board.

The downtown library originally was built in 1957. Major additions in 1974 and 1991 doubled the size of the building both times.


Library maintenance supervisor Andra Williams shows a group of people the library's infrastructure, which include these water heaters, during a tour Wednesday night.

Amy Biolchini |

Currently, the library is 110,000 square feet. Officials want to build a new 160,000-square-foot building on the same property where the library sits now—which is owned by the library—at 343 S. Fifth Ave.

Library Director Josie Parker said they had considered renovating the space they have now—but a long-term cost analysis revealed that tearing down the current building and constructing a new one would be the most beneficial.

The building’s infrastructure is outdated and has required a series of major repairs to keep it functional, Parker said. However, the cumulative cost of “patching” up the problems has prevented the library from taking the next step, Parker said.

People that attended the public meetings were given tours of the library’s infrastructure in the basement - from heating and cooling units, water heaters and sump pumps to boilers. If the building was renovated or rebuilt, all new equipment would have to be purchased.


Andra Williams, the library's maintenance supervisor, shows the public the room that holds the library's servers. The room is a former closet and that has leaky ceilings.

Amy Biolchini |

The most apparent problem seemed to be the closet-like room that had been transformed to store the library’s servers. Leaks from the ceiling put the servers at risk, said maintenance supervisor Andra Williams, and the air conditioning unit in the room that runs constantly also adds some unnecessary heat.

Leary also noted they can’t add electrical outlets to the building - but said the problems with the old building were more than just physical.

The downtown branch of the library receives about 600,000 visitors per year and is a “key element to the economic development of downtown,” Leary said.

Officials argued a new building would allow the library to provide a better range of services to its community, which could include:

  • Quiet reading rooms
  • Storage and public access to the Ann Arbor News archives in the downtown facility
  • Group study and meeting rooms
  • 400-seat auditorium
  • Green building technology
  • Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms throughout the building
  • Separate designated spaces throughout the children’s section for play and group activities

“The book is with us, the book will be with us for a very long time,” Parker said. “However, we’re no longer designing public library structures for the book.”

A number of comments from the public at the meeting Wednesday night expressed skepticism that the library needed a new facility, and questioned the board about re-using or renovating the existing space.

“I have trouble funding to replace anything that’s usable,” said Ethel Potts of Ann Arbor.

Potts called attention to buildings across the country that are 300 to 400 years old and “perfectly usable.”

Alan Haber of Ann Arbor asked if the library would continue to allow people to take shelter during the daytime, make use of the bathrooms and other social service functions that the library has provided to people in need.

“All are welcome here,” Parker said, noting that nothing would change if a new library was constructed.

Re-designing the interior of the library would allow staff to have better lines of sight throughout the building, Parker said. Currently, security cameras have to be constantly monitored throughout the building.


Amy Biolchini |

The Ann Arbor District Library system is funded by a permanent millage. It is currently operating on a tax rate of 1.55 mills, which is 81 percent of the maximum voter-approved rate of 1.92 mills.

Three branch libraries were constructed using $24 million from the operating millage—when the library taxed the full 1.92 mills.

Should the library board decide to move forward with a construction project and ask for a bond millage on the November ballot, the full extent of the library’s existing operating millage would also be levied, Leary said. The ballot language would reflect the library board’s plans to either renovate or build anew.

A recent survey of likely voters in the Ann Arbor area showed about 60 percent would be in favor or lean in favor of a $65 million library bond proposal if it were on the ballot.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 6:39 p.m.

I used to get down to the library a few times a year or more. Have only been there once since the parking construction started. Probably won't go when it's done. I won't feel as safe in an underground structure as one above ground. With passersby I felt safe. I don't care how many cameras there are underground. That just let's some security guard watch me on closed circuit tv while I get mugged. All that money spent on parking when there was a perfectly good lot and a structure a block away. We should probably reimburse Jerusalem Garden a million or two for all the business the construction shut off. The library looked good the last time I was there. Now we want to spend more millions down there? No thanks. I've never voted against a library millage since I moved here in 1984, but this one, I don't know...


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

"We want the library to provide 21st century service to the community and you can't provide that in a mid-20th century building," said Margaret Leary, president of the Ann Arbor District Library Board. Maybe the Historic District Commission should adapt this as a policy when they decide what people can and cannot do to their property in historic designated areas. Books are going the way of the vinyl album so why do we need a larger library.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:17 a.m.

The city should donate the library lot to the AADL so the new library can be put on top of it and put an amphitheater where the current library is. This would prevent the city from putting private property on top of the library lot and the the new library could serve as a venue to host events that would draw large numbers of people to the downtown area. Currently, Detroit has Hart Plaza and the new library could serve a similar function. This land is currently public land and it should stay that way. I agree that the library needs to do more to serve as a meeting place for Ann Arbor residents which would make the downtown a much more vibrant place to be.

Rita Mitchell

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:03 a.m.

Karen found good information on the 2007-2008 plans. Read the document and the alternatives for renovation and re-build, as well as the reasons for each. Many of the issues are addressed by the new parking structure. What's interesting is the green space. Look at pages 51 and 60, here: and here: I would like to understand the interest and justification for the 400-seat auditorium.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

OMG! They block off 5th for over 2 years and now they get their modernized parking lot and now they want to modernize the library? Good Grief. Just add another floor and be done with it. The library is fine the way it is.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

We have to stop thinking about one project at a time and begin to think about planning for an area where structures and uses work together. We still have no idea what will be built on top of the new "Library Lot" parking garage. I believe we should know what the plan is for this area before we tackle tearing down and rebuilding the library. Would the library need a 400 seat auditorium if it is next to a conference center -- could be better to rent a room from the conference center than build a new building to house one. In fact, a new building right next door could be built to include real secure server space with proper electrical and HVAC support which the library could lease. Under those circumstances we might get much more by renovating than building new. Hold on to your hats for this one: why not tear down the existing library and the Blake transit center; put the transit center on top of the garage (as I have suggested many times) and build a new building that covers the footprint of both the garage and library. A footprint of this size would be a much more useful conference center, the library could be housed within the center with direct access to as many conference rooms as they might need for any kind of event, and all the transportation modes/access would be internal to the site. This would leave the entire site across the street free and clear for another complimentary project which might be designed to include a downtown green-space.

say it plain

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

And *that's* the thing... the only way this proposal really makes any sense at all is if there is a larger plan for the space in place. So, we need to be straight and upfront about the plans or hopes for that whole area...what is to go atop the parking hole, across the street at the transit center, etc. Otherwise none of it makes sense, and some of this current proposal seems like a sneaky way to pave the way for a fuller 'convention space' added to it. I think it would be very poor timing indeed for Ann Arbor to vote to fund much of *anything* regarding the downtown library right now!


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

I dunno, Stephen. That sounds an awful lot like comprehensive urban planning. We'd need a coordinating agency -- maybe something semi-public, maybe call it a Downtown Revitalization Authority or something similar -- to take charge of that, and if you give a mouse a cookie, he's gonna want a glass of milk. If you give him a glass of milk, he's gonna want all your parking revenue....

Karen Sidney

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

The AADL website has information about the studies done in 2007 and 2008 for a new downtown library. Existing and proposed floor plans are included.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

Where is the proposal? How will the $65 million be spent, exactly? How much are they spending on digital gear for their new auditorium? Etc. How many iPads? Is this for Aeron chairs? Or are those not included, and will need to be budgeted after? (Nobody would reall do that, would they?) We need specifics. We're gonna need more than a couple powerpoint slides.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

They didn't kill Jerusalem Garden with the parking lot, So now let's try again. This business has had enough hard times with construction. The library is fine for many more years.

Joel A. Levitt

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

Based on this article, if the library needs any modifications at all, they can be accomplished for around $5,00 to seal the server room and move the Air conditioner and, perhaps, another $10,000 to run new electrical lines on and not inside the walls. The central library and the satellites are presently performing their circulating library function very well. The Ann Arbor Public Library system will never match the comprehensive quality of the UM reference libraries. So, what is needed is a deal giving Ann Arbor residents the same library privileges as those enjoyed by UM students, and the cost of such a deal will be closer to zero than to $62 million. If it is put on the ballot, I suggest we vote this bond issue down as many times as we can.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

Vote no. They can keep re working the library for many more years to come.

Silly Sally

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

I use UM's library, and it is great. But the AADL has a better selection of books for some topics. WHy, they both have a different mission and purpose. Bothe are wonderful, but diffferent. It would be easier to find a DVD or a harry Potter title at teh AADL, while a biomedialc title at UM.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

You'd be hard pressed to find a single person at UM, myself included, who thinks giving library access to those not affiliated with the U is a good idea. Honestly the public has too much access as it is. Many, perhaps most, comparable institutions require affiliate ID to even enter the stacks.

Paul Wiener

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

The survey about supporting the new millage for library renovation that you point to clearly shows 60% NOT in favor of it. If your headline refers only to "likely voters" surely they do not reflect the wishes and common sense of most Ann Arborites. I am not convinced by a single argument for tearing down and rebuilding the Library. The only non-infrastructural renovations I see are necessary are (1) reconfiguring the awful room used for lectures and local events, where all sight lines are blocked, air never circulates and lighting and audiovisual control is absurdly ancient, and (2) reconfiguring the main floor reading area, currently one of the ugliest and most unwelcoming spaces ever designed (was it designed?), an embarrassment to anyone who has visited modern, attractive public libraries that reflect pride in their community, not cheap pragmatism. The Library does not need more space, more computers, more books, more toilets. Will this be yet another major disruptive, excessive project that completely ignores what most people here believe they need, or don't need? Has anyone ever met a librarian who did not favor expansion or claim to represent the will of the people, regardless of who these "people" are, how or whether they use libraries, or what the changing functions of public library space really are? I haven't.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

I believe finding a good architect and renovations specialist to re-design the current building would be the most prudent option. I think it would be the most fiscally responsible and efficient method to keep costs down. Building an entire new structure makes no sense to me, when the current structure needs updating, as well.

Dog Guy

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

$65,000,000.00 because the board skipped maintenance and spent the money on a Chateaux en Espagne study? Get out the torches and pitchforks!


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

Got mine! Where do you want me to stick it?


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

Remember the Library and Ann Arbor Art Center, together have been sponsoring Graffiti competitions and awards, for several years during Art Fair. They have directly acted to foment more graffiti all over Ann Arbor, forcing business owners, individuals, and the city to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to try to clean up,only to have it continuously flow from block to block,ruining the look and feel of our great city. I say when the library can stop their army of vandals, and when they have cleaned up the ugly graffiti that exists, then they at least would have my attention for trying to improve downtown.

Silly Sally

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

It true- Ann Arbor had no graffiti, then the library held classes on how to do it and built interest in it. They provided sheets, but only during art fair week. Not to worry, the graduates found building walls They are fools for doing this to our city. We should vote the board of directors out for this


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

@ getagrip Please get a grip. hehe.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

lol, I find that argument interesting... But I think they are probably not actually planning on adding a bunch of "graffiti art" courses to their offerings, and thinking instead of city-sponsored or UM-affiliated conferences they can use the 400 person auditorium for ;-) The better 'sight lines' will help with booking those, since it would thusly be easier to clear out the riff-raff when there's a 'special event' happening in the building however many times a year!

Linda Peck

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

I think this library is fine and the children section is great. I love it. Every building requires maintenance and it sounds like there is quite a bit to do here to make the building right. Go for it! Also, we have a few very modern and new libraries around town that are easy to get to and wonderful to experience. I order some books and DVDs on line and pick them up locally where I live. I go downtown occasionally, too, but I don't see the need for the tear-down. I say wait until the need is obvious and it is not right now.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

We have a great library system. No argument there. That is the result of investment by the community (ie. "taxpayers") and the dedication of the staff. As a result, the system gets used heavily by residents, myself included. But let's step back for a moment: The current downtown anchor sees 600K visitors per year in the 110K sq ft space. What exactly are those visitors supposed to do during either renovation or reconstruction? Overwhelm the branches? Lose interest altogether? The one main branch would see a 45% increase in floor space. For that, we'd pay .69 mills for a bond plus an increase of .37 mills to the permanent millage? A 70% increase over the current funding rate -- for a system which would be crippled in the near term to make a gain of unknown value over the longer term? That takes the resident owner of a $200K house from $155/yr to $224/yr! Ann Arbor voters support most any millage request; this one will likely pass no matter how it's worded. But, boy, it is tough to see the value here.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

The world and technology is rapidly changing so who's to say that if we build a new library that it won't be out of date a few more years. With careful planning, all the "issues" with the current building should be able to be addressed by upgrading the current building for less than $65M. And, it this was a historic district, then the upgrade would have to be done to the existing building.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

@DonBee, I really think, given their 'wish list' about ADA compliance, 400 person auditoriums, and "group meeting rooms", that they're not even so much talking about re-design of an actual *library*, but a library-sponsored and used space that will be also available for all manner of "conference center" type activity, doesn't it sound like? Do they forsee having 400 person how-to-use-google classes soon? Or will such a capacity allow them to sponsor "other" events there too? In that sense, it doesn't even matter what science/arts/whatever-topic library design concerns they claim to have in mind...just that it's new, it has 'state of the art' digital capacities (for supporting good meetings!), etc.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:33 a.m.

So say it plain - You are indicating that this is the back door to the mayor's downtown conference center? I have to wonder.

Daniel Piedra

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

A main concern that I have with the idea to build a new library is that the new design will most certainly be modernist and thus unsightly. As is the case with the current building, modern buildings tend to age quickly; therefore, I wish that that officials would consider a traditional design, which would have lasting appeal.

Gene Alloway

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

I have not seen the plans, but the new 1992 section at the back seems to be in pretty good shape. I have no doubt that the older parts of the building require extensive work or even demolition, but it does seem a shame to tear down something that is 30 years old. I also hope they reserve space for the Friends' Bookshop. That is an important part of the community, and supplies $100k annually to the library. Maybe if the books were on wheeled shelves, the space could be used for other events during the week, then into a bookshop on the weekends.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.

I agree keep the Friends Bookshop. Wish they could build the new library on top of the new parking structure, incorporate the auditorium, more rental conference and public spaces to help pay the bills, and then landscape the existing site into a park and commons. Since it seems like we are going to be stuck paying for a new library...

Lynn Glazewski

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

Why does the server room need to even be downtown? Can't they put their computer facility on a less expensive piece of property that the city owns and run it remotely? I believe that half of their 600,000 visitors would never come in if they could request and receive a book or magazine downloaded to their iPad for 4 weeks, the length of time we can keep a book. Keep in mind that as we older baby boomers die off there will be much less need for a physical library and more demand for a larger "virtual" library. I'd check out books to my Kindle now if they were available.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

Libraries mean BOOKS/printed word...not the latest in e-reader, flash, or other media. Designing to some flavor-of-the-moment technology (and I'm an early-adopter of most tech) for a large, EXPENSIVE, public backbone like a main library is ridiculous. Design for the printed word, and allow space in the walls/floors, and a proper electrical backbone for technological additions as they come. Design a clean, classic, expansive, flexible, usable space. I like the idea of an auditorium, it would be interesting to have more speakers and seminars, classes etc. I DO think the current building is ugly, outdated, smells bad, and the space could be much better utilized.

David Cahill

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

One factual error in the article. The three branch libraries were not constructed in the same year. Groundbreaking for the new Malletts Creek branch (the first new one) was in May, 2002. The final new branch, the Traverwood branch, opened in June, 2008.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

David, thanks for bringing that to my attention. I've fixed the mistake within the article.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Funny that I never heard a word from these same people when the Detroit Lions built a monument to themselves for their PRIVATE use with taxpayer dollars. They had a perfectly functional stadium that actually seated MORE people. The Tigers did the exact same thing. As for those who say "use the branches". The current downtown library is attracting 600k visitors per year. How many can each of the branches take? That would translate into over 1500 people a day.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2 a.m.

Your analogy does not make sense. You cannot kick field goals in a library. Nor can you have a hit and run.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

I'd love to see the numbers, actually, because I think the branches 'take' a lot of people per day. What is a 'visitor' on that 600K/year count? A unique library card transaction? Or something else? I for sure never mentioned a thing about the Lions or Tigers or Bears building monuments to themselves, so does that mean I'm a "same people"? Even if I never had to vote on any of that, or even if I didn't live here at the time?!

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

I know from the comments that are here already (and from past experience) that many of the commenters here--as opposed to actual humans--are against everything and see a big conspiracy against "taxpayers" in everything. However, I'll say that almost everyone who becomes a librarian does so because they believe in the value of the commons and in free and open access to information for the public. They are public servants in the truest sense of the word. Nobody's doing it to get rich or to screw you over, so let's drop that argument, ok? Yes, I know that there are also reasonable arguments to be made against a new building--try to stick to those, and realize that putting TAXPAYER in caps doesn't make your argument any better.

Steve Burling

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Well said, Rusty.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

lol...I only see ONE post with "taxpayer" in caps... Are you running a little personal commentary war and pretending that there isn't a point that can be reasonably made here about how sometimes there really is little need to spend money on a shiny new venture when there are other citizen needs to worry about?! "Actual humans", too cute!

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

AADL is outstanding, and honestly one of the best things about living here. I'm inclined to support library staff in continuing to improve the system as they see fit, given how excellent a job they do with library operations. My only concern is how will I continue to access the collection downtown while construction is underway? It would be inconvenient in the extreme for me and countless other users to have to go to one of the suburban branches rather than downtown.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

With regards to the access to the collections during construction, Josie Parker said at the meeting Wednesday night that the library has a plan to keep a downtown branch open during construction in a different space. The books themselves will be stored in a different location, and can be accessed upon request in the same manner a library patron at one of the branches could access a book at another branch.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

and besides you guys have the best collection downtown! you don't really make proper use of it, it seems to me, so maybe they ought to work out additions onto the remote branches too, so that instead of forcing all that transit-time for the materials they own but don't check out from there they can be "relocated" to places where'd they'd be 'better loved'... maybe indeed the downtown branch needs to become merely a station for checking one's facebook, but I thought they had that already across the street at the community resource lounge lol...and I don't think spending 65 million on such a thing would be reasonable. They might not get the level of visitors they currently have if they lose the actual, you know, "books" and videos and cds and such. What, they expect people to come for accessing ann arbor news archives?! really?!

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

And, just btw, I love the AADL and have supported them through the years...they are indeed one of the best things about living here, and I applaud their improving the remote branches as they have. I don't want to "begrudge" those living closer to the downtown branch their library, and I think the facility they have is very good.... What the library people have failed to do here is convince me that tearing the current structure down and building a new one is even *remotely* needed! And yes, it would be terribly inconvenient and unfair to the downtown patrons to force them to ride their bikes or take the bus or whatever ;-) to the branches!

Ron Granger

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

With books becoming increasingly less available and more expensive in the future, the library should be EMPHASIZING BOOKS, not rushing to re-design in order to eliminate them. Increasingly, common people are not going to be able to afford actual books. E-books are a poor substitute.

Madeleine Borthwick

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

amen, Ron!!! now back to "Moby Dick"....


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

Talk to the New York Library about what happens when you design for something other than books. The "new" Science Library in New York City was designed based on CD-ROMs. The library recently opened and simply does not work. This according to the NY Times, the NY Mayor's office and the Head Librarian in the system, it has been a major NPR story in the last 60 days. A traditional library works, books work. Don't go off on a tech tangent until the tech turns out to be lasting. We are in a transition period, but books will still be needed.

Eight Ball

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Amen Brother Bee. More silicon snake oil. Books and free lending of books are what libraries are all about. What if we built a special 8-trak room in the 70's or a state of the art cassette room in the 80's. We don't need expensive infrastructure for transient technologies. We need books.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

KeepingItReal - I took the survey. The questions were designed to almost force an answer that they wanted. All the answers were loaded and the order was too. Any graduate of ISR would shake their head at the bias that was clear in the survey. I told them on several questions that there was "no acceptable answer" - no question had an "other" choice and the question on spending did not have a real "No" answer. When I told the person that was asking the questions that the library work should have been done at the same time as the parking garage, they did not even know what I was talking about. They were not writing down comments, only taking the answers from the script, so they told me the answer they were choosing for me, when I told them none of the answers were acceptable. I will say I had the person on the other end in tears of laughter when we were done. I took each question apart and told them what the bias was and why it was written that way.

Madeleine Borthwick

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:32 p.m.

DonBee, you are absolutely right!!!!!call me an old fudd, but I love books. I love the knowledge/humor/inspiration/etc./etc./etc. they can provide. I love the way they feel in my hand. I even love the way they look on a shelf. NOTE TO EVERYBODY: do NOT make me a present of an Ebook. I fantasize about turning said present into the most expensive Frisbee the neighbors have ever laid eyes on....


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

Perhaps Don Bee, the AADL Board can learn from these mistakes before they decide to build a new facility. The problems you mentioned will be resolved in the near future and I'm to bet that the New York experience will not be repeated in other parts of the country. While I have not seem the survey that was conducted to gauge the public thoughts about this, I am willing to bet the questions were design in such a way as to garner a majority approval feedback. I hope the Board reading the postings here.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

The cautionary tale on that project has probably not yet appeared in "Library Design Today" or whatever the "wishbook" bathroom reading materials for library officials might be these days... Hopefully it will get there soon, so we can all be saved the subsquent chapters in the book someone will write about the issue! Let's make it harder for them to re-design the downtown library based on misguided guesses about use patterns right now?, Maybe they can spend some money on remedying the problems in the existing building and on new materials instead?! There's got to be some similar journal for people in charge of classes/outreach/digital *materials* instead of furniture and sight-lines design?!


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

Servers do not need to be located downtown. Modern IT communications make it easy to locate them most anywhere, like the new remote libraries. This article makes it very clear we do not need an expensive new library downtown but please make appropriate & permanent repairs. I won't go downtown anymore as the remote libraries (like Pittsfield) serve all my needs, are much closer and have free parking.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

exactly. why spend so much money *now* on a new downtown facility?! better sight-lines for improved "security"?! That makes it, what, more compelling for the stroller-set to bring their little ones downtown rather than to the 'remote' branches with free parking and few "security issues"!? I'm feeling like the current request and claim of support from the public is so audaciously greedy, wow. The new unused parking hole will probably factor in to their claims of 'benefit' to the public, right?! Because now all the families living in the suburban sprawl nearer the remote branches will have a great new parking structure right next door, and the cool new palace of a downtown library might attract them into the city center!? If they have *that* kind of new entertainment center vision for a re-built downtown library, that's one thing... But I hope they can't dupe us into believing they need a new facility because of "the servers" lol... Or trick us into getting funding for basically building a new conference center, in the disguise of expanded "public meeting rooms" and "instruction facilities", maybe as part of a little 'complex' there with the new transit center, how cute a snow job is that!

Ron Granger

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

These tours are nice, but the library needs to do more to make a case to the public who don't have time for the walk-thru. It's almost like they feel they don't need to bother with a comprehensive presentation to justify the enormous $65 million sum of money they want. It's like they assume they'll just get it. This article strongly biases me to vote no on a new library. Maybe yes, in 5 or 10 years.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

The Library board has already made a decision to build a new library. They are now trying to build the public discussion around their already made decision. The only real economic development benefit to come out of the project would be the hiring of workers to build it and I seriously wonder how many reside in Ann Arbor. They are many folks who live in this city who could be benefit from being employed on a construction site. Unfo0rtunately, the underground parking construction project hired few workers from the City and there was hardly any African Americans who were employed.

Fat Bill

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Move the servers off site....books can be shared among an enormous pool digitally anyway...plug the leaks and go. What is the status of a new northwest branch?

Ron Granger

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Projects like this one tend to blow money on stuff that Just Does Not Matter. They tend to emphasize form and glitz over the basic function. For example, glass is nice, but it is expensive. These projects tend to go overboard on glass because, hey, it's cool, and I'm not paying the bill. Also, construction costs are now so high that merely duplicating what we already have is tremendously expensive. To a great extent, this would be merely duplicating the basic infrastructure we already have. Given the current financial situation, rushing to build a new library seems poorly timed and a poor use of limited funds.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

"we're no longer designing public library structures for the book." Okay - so how much book space would be eliminated in the new design? How many books will be declared obsolete and removed from shelves?


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

It does seem strange that while they are "no longer designing public library structures for the book." They want to build quiet reading rooms/

Martin Church

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

A few things to consider. First Servers do Generate Heat, Lots of heat and as we have to add servers because books become digital, then the Library will have to increase the Air Conditioning. The room currently was not designed for air conditioning. There fore in order to cool the room requires the air conditioner to be in the room. Adding additional Servers mean upgrading the services. Next electrical, More servers mean more power requirements. the available service will not support that. Now I am not a big supporter of using tax dollars for bad expendutures. And I believe the Library commission needs to think further into the future for what the library will be used for. In the future with digital books will we have a need for such large structures except for historical environmentally controlled rooms.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

So rent some space on Amazon or Google or Salesforce's cloud. The need for on site data centers has ended. It's an unnecessary expense.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

How about a dedicated "drunk/high, smelly patron room".

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

Now that would be a pro-stroller-set addition to the downtown library lol! We don't need those so much in the remote branches...

Bob McCurrach

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

I thought a main point of the article would be to summarize the feedback from the public during the 3 meetings. What was the pulse of the people?

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Apparently the 'pulse' is irrelevant to the annarbor news, but we've got to spend $65 million to archive their masterpiece journalism?! Anybody else wondering if there may be something 'up' in this town?!

Les Gov

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

So one reason given for replacing the Blake Transit Center is the need for meeting rooms. Now the library claims it needs new meetings rooms. Just how many meeting rooms does the city need on the same street corner? Seems to me this is all about someone trying to build a castle for themselves.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

"We want the library to provide 21st century service to the community and you can't provide that in a mid-20th century building," Let's make the site a historical district. It's a much sounder building than the ones down the street that were so passionately defended.

say it plain

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Seriously?! Tear down the structure that exists because there are leaks?! Tear it down because the staff would prefer better sight-lines?! Is this a concert venue or a nooks-and-crannies-desired *library*?! Seriously?! They'd spent a million dollars before having a sense of what was desired by the voting public?! I am generally very very supportive of the AADL, but this sounds silly... and like a 'decision' had been made before the economy tanked. Now, it seems to me, is *NOT* the time for spending money on a new library building. The schools are barely functioning and in the absence of real reform in how education is funded in this state, voters might need to dig deeper in their pockets to keep their property values from falling further and their kids from being further failed by our public schools. 65 million to create storage capacity for 'archives'?! You've got to be kidding!


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

Something very confusing here: "...the air conditioning unit in the room that runs constantly also adds some unnecessary heat." If the air conditioner is cooling the servers, then why is the whole unit in the room? All the heat-producing components should be located elsewhere. As everyone knows, you can't cool the kitchen by opening the door of the refrigerator! On the other hand, if the air conditioner is cooling something else, why is it in the server room?

Jonathan Blutarsky

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

What they are using is called a spot cooler that typically are used for emergency backup cooling. These normally are wheeled into a server room with the hot air ducted out. All they need to do is install a "split" system for a few thousand dollars to make things right. It is really a bunch of bull that they are using this as a reason for a new library.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

"...The most apparent problem seemed to be the closet-like room that had been transformed to store the library's servers..." -Appears that the a/c may have been there before the servers As for a/c units in the same room as heat generating equipment: Have you ever been in a computer room?


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

The Library is suppose to be a "Safe Place" for those who want to read and study. Children go to the library so why are there Security Camera? Is the Library "Unsafe", do the Librarians like to watch people or maybe they are monitoring what you read? "Currently, security cameras have to be constantly monitored throughout the building. "

greg, too

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Yep, you got it. The librarians actually work for the NSA and they are monitoring your reading. You saw through the evil nefarious plot, Perry Mason.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

It's like they think they're using Monopoly play-money. Surely, you can fix a leak for less than $65 million. And surely, disabled people can take a, you know, for less than $65 million. This is a great example of how governments expand to spend whatever they think they can raise in future taxes.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

From a previous article: Parker said the library had spent about $900,000 on an architectural and construction assessment before the project was put on hold in 2008. I don't trust anyone that spends a million dollars of tax payer money BEFORE getting a feel for what the TAXPAYERS want!

Madeleine Borthwick

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

jcj, you are right not to trust these people. they don't give a "fill-in-colorful expletive-here" what we taxpayers want. we are, in their eyes, childlike morons who must be led around by our collective nose. anyone who actually spends time down here with us knows that we are not stupid. some of us are getting REALLY TIRED OF BEING TOLD WHAT WE WANT OR DON'T WANT but it's not too likely to change...


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

I agree with Ethel Potts that since we have become a recycling society, why tear down buildings that can be sufficiently renovated for modern purposes? There is no reason the library cannot be retrofitted to become green. There is no reason the library room that host the servers cannot be retrofitted to protect them against damages caused by leaks. And why are there leaks in the first place? With the money the library currently has through millage funding, why haven't the proper repairs been made to the building using that money? The library spends a ton of money providing security. Why can't that money be used to invest in the building? You have the security cameras there, and please don't tell me that a new building would allow for better patrol of the stacks and therefore security cameras would not be needed. Other than having to pay for parking, I don't see how the library can be called an economy development activity. Most patrons who visited the library does not come downtown to spend money. As a taxpayer and citizens of this community, I'm just am not convinced a new building is needed.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

"There is no reason the library room that host the servers cannot be retrofitted to protect them against damages caused by leaks." Why can't those servers be moved from a leaky room in the basement to a proper data center? Why does the library need servers on site?

Peter Baker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3 p.m.

"There is no reason the library cannot be retrofitted to become green. There is no reason the library room that host the servers cannot be retrofitted to protect them against damages caused by leaks." There are plenty of reasons. Some retrofitting costs as much as building new.

Robert Katz

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

We spent 2 1/2 years to build a parking lot, killing many merchants as we did this. Now they want a new structure at a time when we are so short money that schools keep having to make cuts. All the wonderful improvements are unnecessary upgrades at great cost, just like the ridiculous new courthouse that we didn't need.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

I think this is the way the city will finally get that conference center they want. Just call it a modern library!