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Posted on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Survey shows 60% of Ann Arbor area voters would favor $65M library bond proposal

By Ryan J. Stanton


A young girl with a reusable bag runs toward the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. The library board is considering asking voters to approve a bond issue to either renovate or replace the downtown branch.

Chris Asadian |

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

The Ann Arbor District Library hired Lansing-based research firm EPIC-MRA to conduct the survey, which indicates the AADL may place a bond proposal on a future election ballot to fund major renovations to the downtown library or replace the facility with a new building.

"It is anticipated that the cost will be approximately $65 million to execute the renovation or new construction project, meaning that the voters of the district would have to approve of a bond proposal to repay the cost of the bonds to finance the project," the survey states.


A woman walks past the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library on Tuesday afternoon. Library officials are contemplating the branch's future.

Chris Asadian |

"Such a bond proposal would result in a property tax increase of approximately 0.69 mills, meaning that for every $200,000 in market value and a taxable value of $100,000, a typical homeowner would pay an additional $69 per year, or $5.75 per month, in property taxes."

Given those facts, 45 percent of respondents said they would vote yes if the election were held today, while another 15 percent said they were leaning toward yes. About 33 percent said they'd vote no and another 4 percent said they were leaning toward no.

The top reasons given by those opposing the bond proposal were that they didn't think it's needed or they're opposed to a tax increase.

Some cited wasteful government spending.

About 3 percent of respondents were either undecided or did not answer, and those people then were asked how they'd vote on a lesser 0.51-mill tax to renovate or replace the downtown library. About 61 percent of them said yes or leaning yes.

Those who still weren't convinced were asked how they felt about a 0.25-mll tax to renovate or replace the downtown library. About 72 percent said yes or leaning yes.

AADL Director Josie Parker said the poll was conducted in March to determine the public's attitude about the services and facilities provided by AADL and their willingness to fund a downtown facility project. Parker said the idea is still in the early stages and a newly appointed facilities committee will meet soon to determine how to go forward.


Josie Parker

Parker said 400 people took the survey.

In addition to attitudes about a bond proposal, survey respondents were asked to share their thoughts on a number of issues directly and indirectly related to the library.

Asked to choose from a list of eight problems or issues that might concern them, 29 percent of respondents said the condition of the economy and jobs concerned them most, 27 percent said the quality of local schools and 14 percent said maintaining area roads.

Another 7 percent said controlling crime and drugs, 7 percent said the level of local government taxation, 6 percent said the quality of services provided by local government, 4 percent said addressing growth and development and 2 percent said the quality of libraries.

Asked to score how important various assets and attractions are to Ann Arbor on a 1 to 10 scale, respondents ranked the University of Michigan 8.8, AADL 7.3, Michigan Theater 6.3, Ann Arbor Public Schools 8.1, restaurants and entertainment options 7.3, Art Fair 6.4, Zingerman's 5.7, Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum 6.2, U-M Hospital 8.4 and The Ark 5.8.

Asked about their taxes in relation to what they get in local services, 33 percent said they were too high, 3 percent said too low, and 61 percent said they're about right.

Asked whether they thought local libraries are more or less important with the growth of computers and the Internet, 34 percent said more important, 15 percent said less important and 50 percent said about the same importance.

The survey found the downtown library is the location that 27 percent of respondents primarily visit, while 16 percent said Malletts Creek, 15 percent said Traverwood, 14 percent said West, 12 percent said Pittsfield and 14 percent said they never visit a library at all.

Asked why they don't visit any local library, 24 percent of those respondents said they can just use the Internet at home, 12 percent said they prefer to buy books, 19 percent said they had no need or interest, and 7 percent said they were too old.

Asked how often they or someone else in their household uses the library, 35 percent said a few times a month, 24 percent said a few times a week, 20 percent said a few times a year, 3 percent said seldom, 2 percent said every day and 16 percent were undecided.

The most popular library services among patrons were borrowing books (25 percent), borrowing DVDs (17 percent) and borrowing fiction best sellers (10 percent).

Asked to rate the quality of the downtown library, 82 percent cited it as either excellent or pretty good, while 5 percent said fair and 1 percent said poor. The most common reasons for a positive rating were good selection of materials and the customer service staff.

The most common reasons for a negative rating were construction, parking and a perceived need for upgrades. Some thought it was too small and attracted too many homeless people.

Asked what's most needed to improve the downtown library, about a third of respondents said either better parking or free parking.

About 81 percent of respondents rated the quality of the services and collection of books and materials provided by the AADL as either pretty good or excellent.

Asked where they get information that influences their opinions, 43 percent said, 18 percent said the Ann Arbor Observer, 14 percent said word of mouth, 9 percent said radio news, 6 percent said TV news, 1 percent said the Detroit Free Press, 1 percent said Google, 1 percent said MLive and 1 percent said The Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Previous coverage: Redevelopment? Renovation? Ann Arbor library officials revive talks about downtown library

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.


Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 5:18 a.m.

Why is it government buildings need to be replaced entirely in this amount of time? It's not much better than the government subsidized housing projects I see in Ypsi that have to be rebuilt only 30 years later. Look at how old the buildings are downtown. Constantly being refitted from one business to another. Houses going back to the 1800's. Beautiful University buildings, all much older.

Dog Guy

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 4:45 a.m.

Affluent members of the library board don't care that many property owners are submarginal and cannot afford what seems to them only an additional pittance in taxes. This bond issue when combined with the many other tax and fee raises will drive a number of families from their homes, leaving a higher concentration of the wealthy and worthy. Ann Arbor has been very generous to the library and its staff. The board's response is rank ingratitude at the worst possible time.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

"Asked to rate the quality of the downtown library, 82 percent cited it as either excellent or pretty good, while 5 percent said fair and 1 percent said poor. " Doesn't sound to me like a new downtown library is needed. Based on this, the vast majority think it's excellent or pretty good.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

No new millages. the constant milking of A2 residents for this mill, and that mill, for public schools technology, for new libraries and on and on. NO new millages. Enough! End of story. The downtown library is a haven for homeless. It's an unfortunate fact of life with the shelter downtown and law enforcement lax on panhandling. Plus, it's across from the bus station where a lot of homeless hang out. I understand there is a huge homeless problem in A2, and over time, they have migrated to the library, for lack of anywhere else to go. Parking is a huge problem as well. I stopped going to the downtown branch a few years ago, since I don't appreciate the gauntlet of homeless hanging around the front entrance smoking cigarettes and hassling patrons. I also don't appreciate being hassled inside the library by homeless who follow people around the stacks and yell at them or try to steal purses and wallets. A2 doesn't need a new library. A2 needs to clean up its act re: homeless. Stricter law enforcement re: panhandling. Stricter enforcement re: aggressive homeless who hang around inside the library and hassle patrons. Many are not using the library for any purpose other than to use bathrooms. Stricter enforcement of homeless who hang around outside and hassle people going in and out.

Stuart Brown

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 1:37 a.m.

Build a new Library on top of the new parking deck and put in an outdoor amphitheater where the current library is. This would give Ann Arbor something like Hart Plaza in Detroit that could be used to hold major entertainment events.


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

Just went back and reread this article. The caption in the photo was amusing...just what does the girl with "a reusable bag" have to do with this story? Don't get it...or maybe I do?

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

College towns need libraries. Now that Border's is gone downtown Ann Arbor needs a central gathering place which is clean and modern. I would like to see a cafe in the new library like the one that Border's had. My daughter loves the library and prefers checking out books to going to the mall etc. Hopefully there will NOT be a convention center built on top of the new library lot parking structure, a convention center there will eat up all the new available parking. This would require the building of an additional parking structure to relieve downtown parking congestion. A convention center at the library lot would erase all new available parking spaces there. If a new convention center is built in Ann should be near the highway. There is already traffic and parking congestion downtown. Bringing in out-of-town conventioneers will bring chaos.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

Put it on the ballot, it will fail. The poll was biased. There is no need for new brick and mortar, the facilities are fine.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.

Are you kidding me? We can't affrod police and fire protection, our roads are falling apart (except our bike paths), or schools are going broke, etc. Who are these 60%?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

Ann Arborites aren't demanding a new downtown library. But I'm sure the staff and board would love to be able spend $65M of other people's money on a really big, fun, high-profile project. There will be lots of important meetings with architects and planners! They'll get interviewed in the 'paper'! They might win national awards for their awesome new library! The day-to-day, year-to-year business of running a library system could get a little dull, but tearing down and building a huge, new state-of-the-art facility? Awesome. It's on a (somewhat) smaller scale, here, but I'm reminded of this:


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

I think you have hit the nail on the head. Nothing like getting one's name in the paper and getting to prance around feeling important!

David Cahill

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

No, library projects are not subject to the "1% for art" program that handicaps the City's projects. The AADL is completely separate from the public schools and from the city government - thank goodness!

Joel A. Levitt

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Please forgive my previous sloppy comment. We have an excellent circulating library in Ann Arbor. We are even more fortunate to have world renown libraries, those of the UM. Assuming that it would cost less, I would prefer to pay the UM to extend free library access to all A2PL clients.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

I would love to know why 7 percent think they are too old to use the public library.

Rose Garden

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Probably mobility limitations.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Where does the 1% "Art Tax" figure in on this?

Joel A. Levitt

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

We have an excellent circulating library in Ann Arbor. We are even more fortunate to have world rekown libraries, those of the UM. Assuming that it would cost less, I would prefer to pay the UM to extend free library access to clients of all A2PL clients.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

Who still uses the library? Everything is on line!!!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

The library board intended to replace the central library several years ago and was well on their way to do so. Their motivation was the aging of the mechanical systems of the library and the increasing costs to keep it going. They perceptively realized that it could be delayed at the start of the economic downturn and scrapped years of planning. Now that we are beginning an upturn, they've begun planning again. This will be a long process that is likely to culminate as we emerge from the current recession (i.e. be well-timed in the economic cycle). An earlier poster asked about biasing the survey towards younger customers. I suspect the motivation is a good one, even if the implementation was poor. My interpretation: The AADL board is considering building a library for future users that will last for many years. The problem is that the rise of e-books is radically reshaping the need for and role of libraries. How does a lending library work if the majority of books are read on an e-reader and Amazon won't let libraries "lend" a pdf? Arguably, there is no role for libraries in the future with ubiquitous mobile devices and wireless access. Look at this quote off the page: "With an Amazon Prime membership, Kindle owners can choose from over a hundred thousand books to borrow for free - including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers - as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates." Folks who have been using libraries for many years (including myself) have a deeply ingrained affection for the printed page. Teenagers and 20-somethings do not. If we're going to invest money in a new library, I think we need to really think about what the role of the library will be. Is it a public space for social interaction? Is it a guarantor of last resort for the marginalized members of our society who cannot afford mobile devices and wireless access and are becoming increasingly disenfranchised from the public discourse?


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

"I think we run a real risk of disenfranchising the poorest members of our society and thereby corroding our democracy if we don't have a public place that allows everyone the opportunity to participate in our society." Mobile devices are becoming not only common among the poor in the U.S., they're becoming common among the poor in developing countries who never had wired phone service: If the library provides free wifi and a some iPads for checkout for the very few patrons who don't have any kind of internet capable device, that ought to be more than sufficient.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

My concern with saying "And investing millions in more computer stations? In the days of $350 laptops and ubiquitous mobile devices, that's just idiotic." is that it disenfranchises the poor. Pretty soon, you won't be able to read a book, read a newspaper, pay a bill, pay your taxes, learn about what your government is doing, do research, contribute to the public debate, access entertainment, or communicate to someone else without network access and a device. Compare that to 1970, when you could do all of that with a postal address, a library, and a payphone. I think we run a real risk of disenfranchising the poorest members of our society and thereby corroding our democracy if we don't have a public place that allows everyone the opportunity to participate in our society. Does that mean a new library is the answer? By no means. But I do think we need to figure out where that social good happens. Right now, libraries are the only place trying to fill that need.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

It's not just teenagers and young adults. My mom is 75 and generally fairly technophobic, but she got a Kindle a couple of years ago, and you can't pry it out of her hands, now. It's great for older readers -- it's very light and easy to handle, and every book can be a large print book just by changing the font size. I do think the library staff are trying for relevance in an ebook era, but how about instead we save some money and leave some space to raise other taxes for more pressing community needs? This town is has a few dozen 400+ seat auditoriums in AAPS schools and university buildings -- we don't need another one. And investing millions in more computer stations? In the days of $350 laptops and ubiquitous mobile devices, that's just idiotic.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I have heard the library is deteriorating structurally, such as in the non-public part of the basement, an area we do not see as patrons. If that has been covered in another article, please update us. It has been mentioned on this site that Christman(?) was awarded the contract for the expensive parking structure next door without competition; would bidding take place and possibly lower the projected cost for this project? Are any estimates of renovation vs. tear down available? How long would we be without a main branch? The library lot has taken 3 years afterall. Would appreciate further reporting on this issue, so we have more facts on why a new or renovated library is needed and what the projected process would be. The more detail the better, so we taxpayers can make a fully informed decision on the millage.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

The libary board should organize public forums at all library locations and during both the day and evening to obtain community input before spending any more money on consultants. Unfortunately, some people believe that all research and reading can be done online. It may be true that many materials are avialable online; however, knowing how to find resources and research properly must be learned. Students are beginning to replace the word 'research' with 'google'--what a big mistake. Librarians must be able to teach research skills and to show patrons the reference materials available. AADL should focus more on services and resources than on brick and mortar buildings. Many of the post have already discussed the many difficulties in getting into the library. I would support re-thinking the decision to separate the school and public library system. They both are funded by the public and serve the public. Put an outside door on the school libraries so they would be available after school, nights and weekends to the general public. Improve the digital capabilites and learning centers in the school locations. Teach research -- or at least the dewey decimal sytem to our students! Bring the public facilities back into the neighborhoods.

Annette Poole

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

My family and I moved to Ann Arbor in September, and we've come to love the local libraries. We're there at least 3 to 4 times a month. However, I really don't see any improvements that need to be made. You should see the run-down libraries where we used to live... the Ann Arbor libraries are practically deluxe museums when compared to what I'm used to. I'd have a hard time saying Yes to new libraries when the current ones look practically brand-new.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

As an AADL employee, we've heard about many different things happening to the Downtown branch., one of which is the implementation of "green space" to create more outdoor space outside the branch. I would (obviously) be in full support


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

even more confused: sounds like two different ideas: they want more space within the walls for various stated purposes.Yet you say "green space" is sought after, outside the building,presumably. Has the idea occurred to anyone, you can't have it all? I am not in favor of a complete new library in order to have a ?garden? sitting area? reflectingpond?

Stephen Landes

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

I voted "NO" in the poll because it is impossible to make a determination on a tax question without knowing the whole story: where would the library be built; why is renovation the same cost as all-new; would the library be integrated into a new building on top of the new garage or would it be stand-alone? Too many questions to give the AADL board the comfort of a "yes" vote at this point.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

I would need to see the financials for the existing library; how are funds currently spent? Is there a savings account the library system utilizes? and where did the $65 million price tag come from -- the developer? is there are competitive bid process for such projects?

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

The University of Michigan should open up more of their state-taxpayer funded libraries for use by the A2 taxpayers. Look at all of the local taxpayer funded resources the University and students utilize.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

maybe the "facilities commitee" can analyze the current space utilization and use the existing footprint better. There is a parking lot for employees to the East-couldn't that be built onto and find another solution for employee parking. Or build above it,leaving the spaces generally intact,perhaps with some changes. If there were a good case for an addition or bump-out which would cost people far less than a complete demolition, perhaps people would be more open. The all or nothing tactic is really distasteful and arrogant considering the compromises average people make daily now just to stay afloat.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Maybe I missed it in the article, but what percentage of respondents use the A2 libraries? How did the responses breakdown among library users and non-users?

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

I did not see this critical question answered in the article: WHY do we need to rebuild the library? Is that really the best use of library funds? I support the library system, but I don't see the "business case".

David Cahill

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

This is a well-designed survey by the most prominent Michigan firm. It is not designed to "push" a predetermined outcome. It does not list what a new/renovated downtown library might offer, and then ask for an opinion on a new tax. And the tax information is highlighted. Only 3% want to upgrade the interior. Since such an upgrade would be the main selling point of a replacement/upgrade, I don't think the new tax will be approved. The percentages of "yes" are also pretty low for the passage of a millage.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

@ Don, But you're right wing. So of course you are going to think the questions are leading. With anything involving tax dollars, you have your mind made up before the questions are even asked.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Well, if they're "prominent" I don't need to hear anything else...


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Did you take the survey David? I did, the questions were leading in nature and some questions had answers that only one would be acceptable to a rational person.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Wanna bet that the 19 percent who said they had no need or interest are smokers? Just curious.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

and do you mean tobacco or marijuana... because I can tell you that if anyone smokes either of the two it doesn't affect how often they visit the library, let alone their opinion on it.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

no, where does that idea even come from??


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

As far as I'm concerned we don't need any downtown library. Wasn't the whole point of building the branch locations to make it more convenient? Well it is more convenient. If we build anything we need more parking at the branch locations. I'm a huge fan of the library system but i'll vote against a downtown expansion. It's not needed because there's simply no good way to get downtown. Parking is way too costly and very difficult & time consuming to find. Stick with the branch locations and simply close the downtown site.

John Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

You're right, no one lives downtown or uses the downtown branch.

Dog Guy

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

"A new survey of likely voters in the Ann Arbor area" would include public employees and their family members as well as construction workers. U of M faculty and sophomores would be included, so 60% in favor is very likely. I visit the branch at Westgate more than four times a week, but I have not been in the downtown building for 15 years because of congestion, bums, and the lack of any reason to otherwise be downtown. Now I can add hostile parking to this list. Why not have the library hub and offices outside of downtown? What is the head count of users at the downtown building . . . library users that is? Soothsayer brings up the likelihood of instant obsolescence for the building proposed due to changes in media and distribution. Providentially, there are several large-parking-lot ex-video stores available for library use. I expect we will build this empty palace for library staff.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

staff usually not there when i visit

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

"Asked where they get information that influences their opinions, 43 percent said" I wouldn't use that to confirm the validity of the survey.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Yes, I found that scary as well.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

The online poll does not give the same results that the Lansing-based research firm EPIC-MRA had? Maybe the online people don't think they need a new Library.

John Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

Because EPIC-MRA surveyed actual Ann Arbor residents.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

When is the Ann Arbor Library going to ask the University of Michigan to start paying for all of the students that use these facilities? When I go to the Traverwood Branch I see all of the students that live in married student housing (no taxes paid by U of M) using the library. Don't ask me for a milage increase so I can support a better facility for people that don't even pay taxes and live in housing where their landlord is tax exempt.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Fine, they spend money in the community just like the rest of us that live here. My issue is that the library is funded by property tax dollars and their landlord pays none. Yet, everyone living in the north campus housing complexes can use the library facilities. Or maybe change the funding source completely and just charge people an annual fee for a library card? Then people who use it can fund it.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Right on! Let's get rid of all the students in Ann Arbor. How dare they use the public library to study or relax with a good book. It's not like city businesses would miss all the dollars they spend at restaurants, clothing stores, coffee shops, rental properties, gas stations, grocery stores...

Nice in A2

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

I use the downtown location as my main one. 50+ year old buildings always need improvements but a rebuild seems foolish. It only looks a little dated because of the style of architecture that was used at the time and I don't go to a library because of how it looks. So add me to the it would take some convincing crowd. If there is a good ecological payback or if the improvements are clearly needed then I would be happy to help pay.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

By looking at other comments it seems the polls in A2 are like shooting craps with loaded dice


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

Did I miss where it told how many taxpayer dollars it cost for this propaganda? It takes a certain type of individual to sit through a survey of this length. This would in NO WAY be a true representation of Ann Arbor voters. As usual surveys are ALWAYS skewed toward a desired outcome. IF it was a one question random survey conducted outside Kroger, Busch's, Hiller's, and Whole Foods. Would you support a millage increase for a new downtown Library? It would be OVERWHELMINGLY against a millage increase., Time for those on the public dollar to start doing things HONESTLY!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

I don't understand why people want "pretty looking libraries" when what REALLY matters is on the inside. If people want to spend so much money why don't they focus on getting more reading/AV material? For the most part I request material online and spend 2 minutes in the library picking it up. I also think the Traverwood library is gorgeous, I don't understand the "it's so ugly" complaints... it's probably the one building in Ann Arbor that has reasonable (and FREE) parking!!


Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

I've been over to Traverwood a few times, though Malletts is my regular branch. Traverwood parking along Traverwood Blvd is a joke. How do you walk from your car to the sidewalk? There is literally no way to get from the street parking to the sidewalk without walking on muddy, hilly terrain, sometimes snow covered, or walking the entire distance in the road from you car to the front door. It's ludicrous. The city refused to grant the library any access to the strip of grass/hilly area between the street and sidewalk. So patrons trudge up the slippery slope to get to the sidewalk. The parking lot at Mallett's is way too small and crowded.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

Why is Traverwood ugly, in my opinion. 1) I don't like looking at rusty metal. Especially non-uniformly rusty metal. 2) I don't like looking at weeds. I'm all for natural brush, but Traverwood is surrounded by weeds. It's not attractive. 3) The overall look of the building doesn't fit into the environment it is located in. Just like the structure at the corner of Plymouth Rd and Green Rd. Ugly. Again, that's my opinion, and you're entitled to yours. :)


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

There is NO such thing as "FREE parking." Parking is a very expensive part of infrastructure. I give the AADL credit for incorporating "green" elements in their new (built in recent years) branches as Traverwood. However one of, if not the biggest detriments I see is that such Branch buildings have been built as stand-alone facilities. Almost anyone who accesses such Branches by car now will drive to the Library AND then drive to the Mall. A very NON-"green" element. One of the things I liked the most about many of these satellite Library Branches (Loving, Traverwood Mall, Westgate, etc) were incorporated in areas with other services/commerce. So regardless how a person usually got there (foot, bike, bus, car, other), with one trip they could "kill many birds with one stone." A very "green" element of urban design. These recent Library Branches foster over-use of the automobile that the City is otherwise working to offer solutions for....


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

I looked at the survey and the was surprised to see this as the first question: "We need to have a balance of men and women in this survey, and we also need to have young voters represented. May I please speak to the youngest [MALE/FEMALE, depending on specified quota] registered voter, age 18 or older, who is home now?" Why did they bias the selection toward the youngest voters like that? I don't see how that would be representative of the city at large.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

I don't believe the young voters sought in the survey PAY TAXES. So the question should have been reworded as follows: "Would you be interested in a new library that someone else pays for, i.e. it's FREE to you"? You could also add: "What is it that could be provided to you, for free, that you would be against"?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Bottom line: WHAT would a new library facility provide that is not in the current libary building?

Rose Garden

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

A 400-seat auditorium. Do we need one?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

The following quote is from the January 2012 AADL Board Meeting minutes. The AADL has plenty of money and no doubt used a lot of our tax dollars to pay for a slanted survey. I would vote "NO WAY" on any additional tax dollars. In future Ryan, be a journalist and not an your homework and present both sides of the issue. "Associate Director Nieman reported December showed unrestricted cash balance just over $13 million. Tax receipts just over $10.7 million, reflecting 96.2% of the budgeted amount, have been received. The Fund Balance reflects just over $7.9 million. Three line items are over budget, but will come back into line later in the year. The Grants line item shows that over $44 thousand has been donated through the end of December and of that amount $40 thousand was donated by the Friends."

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

I need to know first if any of this money would be siphoned-off for the Percent for Art program. If so, then I'll be voting NO. I'll be voting NO on anything that provides any money for that fiasco.

John Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

The library is separate from the city.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

No more brick and mortar public institutions. The idea of the "library" is being reinvented with the coming of eBooks and eDelivery. Wait till this process fleshes itself out a bit more before investing in any centuries old brick & mortar library model. Consider augmening the district library with a state of the art online presence which make the content more accessable to people directly at their own homes and eliminate onsiderable travel, maintenance, utility and staff costs. You'll probably save enough money to get each family at least one eBook reader or they can just get one themselves or read on their desktop PC or laptop. This is Ann Arbor people, try to act like you're progressive at least in your ideas even if you're not in practice.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

"i'm not about to spend a few hundred bucks on some ridiculous ipad." As opposed to spending another $150 a year in library taxes (above and beyond what we already pay)? I'll take the ebooks and the tax savings (as well as all the savings in time, gas, and parking trekking back and forth to the library).


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

That's ridiculous. A library is so much more than a collection of ebooks. I urge you to check one out sometime.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

sorry but i enjoy my books in paper form... i'm not about to spend a few hundred bucks on some ridiculous ipad.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Apparently you need to some time in the reference section of a brick and mortar library.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

inb4 grammar/spelling nazis, yeah there were some errors, sorry!


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

So it sounds like generally people are quite happy with the downtown library right now with the exceptions of the construction and the parking situation. As we know the construction is going to end ANY DAY NOW (or not) and when it does, voila, there will be a lot of parking right next door. Don't get me wrong - I love AADL - so why again are we talking about spending $65MM?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

I'm confused by this article headline, which states that 65% of Ann Arbor Voters would favor a $65m Library bond proposal but according to the bar graph of the polling of readers, the majority of respondents does not support this bond proposal. This causes me to have some concerns about the viability of the poll commissioned by the Library board to gauge support for the bond.

David Frye

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 2:31 a.m. online "polls" are always dominated by the anti-tax crowd. Nothing new there.

John Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

You trust online voting by people who don't even live in Ann Arbor over a statistically valid survey?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

I took the survey. It was almost impossible to not want to support the library millage the way the questions and options were worded. The overall survey was weighted heavily to get the answer of "Yes". Don't count on the survey results to actually resemble any vote.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

The link to the prior article provided some useful info as to what to expect with a new building: "The tentative plans called for razing the aging building and replacing it with a modern facility that would include a 400-seat auditorium, better lighting, more computer stations and 47 percent more space overall." For me, the issue involves understanding the AADL's vision for the future. a) What is the vision? b) How will a new building serve the vision? c) In the age of digital information, is a new library necessary? d) Is the library's mission changing? Is it becoming more of a community-meeting center, vs information dissemination center? Viewing the photo, it is apparent that the current library additions have resulted in a building that was never intended from a use perspective. The additions are aesthetically bulky from the exterior perspective. However, the heart and soul of the facility are just fine. It is no surprise that, "82 percent cited it as either excellent or pretty good." As a longtime user and supporter of public libraries, I am open to learning more about the benefits of a new library. I hope that the AADL staff offers a clearer vision for the future as the discussion moves forward. Thank you, AADL, for your great libraries and staff people.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

Sorry, exterior photo mentioned is in linked article. . .


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

What's the rush with spending money on a new library? The current library system, including the main library downtown provides good service today. Wait another five to ten years and allow a chance for the economy to improve and then folks will have more disposable income. Don't spend money for the sake of just spending money, it's irresponsible.

Jimmy McNulty

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

Exactly what municipalities outside the AA city limits are able to use the library facilities? In other words, who would pay for the millage? The article states the survey asked voters "in the Ann Arbor area." Thanks.

Basic Bob

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

"People living within the service area of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, with the exception of those living in Northfield Township, are served by the AADL." from the library website


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:46 a.m.

Ok...first I don't live in Ann Arbor so what bonds pass or don't pass is none of my business.But just as a observation, is it just me or when polls are made and paid for by the units that the bonds effects ( or is it affects ? ) it almost always goes they way they want ? ie: the AATA bond poll. P.S...feel free to set me straight on " effect " or " affect " as used here


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Many surrounding communities have library assessments in their tax bill, for example Superior Township.

Boo Radley

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

The bond's effects would not affect you. :)


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Oh, I am sure someone will tdw, LOL.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:42 a.m.

Taken from this article: "Asked to rate the quality of the downtown library, 82 percent cited it as either excellent or pretty good" and how does this indicate the need for a new building? The library backed away from requesting more money a few years back because the economy was in freefall. Currently, the economy may have leveled out at the bottom of the cycle. Do you have "extra" money to fund a new downtown library? I find the entire survey to be suspect. I would vote no on a library millage proposal. Disclosure: I use a branch library at least once a week and make book and DVD requests online frequently.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

As long as all of the funds went to the Library and not appropriated to some other fund the city deems necessary. Libraries are a main stay in any community, and extremely important.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:31 a.m.

I'd love to know how they did this poll...over the last couple years I haven't seen a single poll anywhere in middle America that any millage anywhere would be passed in an election if new monies are involved be that schools, libraries, or arts. I'm all for our awesome library--but it won't pass by popular vote.

John Q

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Dozens of library millages have passed in southeast Michigan over the past couple of years. Where have you been?


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Totally agree. Would love to see the actual poll and the full results. 60% of 10 people polled maybe. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of propaganda to try to push this through, and ask yourself how much money is being spent on the marketing to get the funds. I love the Ann Arbor library system and use it often, and it currently works perfectly fine. A new building is absolutely NOT needed. I always get frustrated seeing tax dollars go towards fixing things that are not broken. Especially $65million. Wouldn't that be better spent on the proposed technology upgrade for the schools? Do not buy into the thought that by voting this down, you are voting down the library. Not the case. You are only voting down frivolous upgrades to a system that is already national recognized. It works great as is.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:30 a.m.

While we love the library system, we would not support a new library without a lot of convincing. The main library seems way too under utilized with lots of open space. And the Traverwood branch was poorly designed besides being ugly.

Stephen Landes

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Traverwood is definitely ugly, but that should not be a surprise. A2 seems to specialize in ugly architecture (e.g.: the new City Hall, condo/commercial buildings at Plymouth & Green). The look is almost faux recycled materials -- corrugated siding, rusty metal, etc.


Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

Wow. I respect your opinion about Traverwood. Still, I love that branch, and I have never actually heard this opinion before, until now. I think it's beautiful.

Constance Colthorp Amrine

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 10:21 a.m.

I am a huge fan of our libraries in Ann Arbor. My kids use them at least once a week. We borrow books, music and videos. If I can't stream through Netflix, I find it at the library. The online reservation services make researching, reserving and checking out so easy. In times of tighter budgets, I'd rather borrow from the library, and the architecture and landscaping of each of the 3 newer locations. Each has an interesting story to tell.