opinion: Library board needs more time to consult with experts, consider impact on future residents
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
What I want to do is to be a voice for the future tax-payers who have, do, and will call Ann Arbor their home. As a U-M graduate, I know that most people my age choose to study and use online resources at coffee shops and campus locations. The University provides facilities for that purpose and many of these facilities like the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and the Hatcher Graduate Library are open to the public for computing, research, and the like.
Some downtown business leaders, most in this middle-aged, middle-class demographic, support this new library and have stated it will increase traffic to downtown businesses. I don’t think that the ‘if we build it, they will come’ approach works here. People just aren’t using libraries the way they used to.
As a lifelong Ann Arborite, I also believe that this 30-year bond is irresponsible. One of the claims of those promoting this bond is that the twenty-year-old downtown library is out-of-date. To paraphrase a friend of mine, with the best of intentions, I don’t think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs could predict what we need in thirty years. Moreover, if a library is out-of-date after twenty years, with the rate at which technology is advancing, how long would it take for a new library, even with a flexible design, to be obsolete — ten? We can’t saddle a generation with the sort of burden the bond would put upon our community. We can’t foresee the problems that may arise with a project this large. Not just the $130 million of payments, but more importantly, the lost opportunities during the 30-year repayment period.
We can all agree the library needs some improvements. Let’s also agree that it would be short-sighted to demolish the work of David Osler, the architect of the library addition and renovations, as well as the award-winning renovations of the Michigan Theater.
I urge you to vote NO on the library bond and give the library board the opportunity to consult with renovation experts - maybe even Osler.