On Monday, February 9, 2015 the city hosted Round 1 of the “library war.” City staff presented its proposal to sell the Foothills Branch Library and relocate it to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center (FRAC) to the citizen Parks and Recreation Commission.

The meeting took place at FRAC and there were estimates of 150 to 200 people in attendance. There were ordinary citizens standing out in front of the building handing out flyers about the proposed sale.

Mary and Patty, two readers of my blog, kindly shared some observations of the meeting:

  • “Many people who use the FRAC were in attendance and they were not happy campers.”
  • “At a time when the FRAC is trying to beef up their membership, this endeavor would mean cutting many programs and farming out some programs to other locations. People pay a membership to FRAC but will have to go to another location for weightlifting, dancing, table tennis, etc.”
  • “There is a lot of running around and noise generated from the children using the pool during summer hours; a library is supposed to be a quiet place.”
  • “Children should have the experience of reading and handling books.”
  • “From a realtor: ‘this is not a good time to be selling. It’s a buyer’s market’.”
  • One person challenged the picture showing many rows of books in the meeting room we were in. She asked if this had been drawn to scale. Eric Strunk answered, ‘No, it’s just our perception of what the room will look like’.”
  • “The head of the Parks and Recreation Commission asked excellent questions and all members were actively listening and questioning.”
  • “Concerns were also raised about harming the integrity of the programs offered and expected by the Rec center patrons and that the pool table area is actually the only area youth that could not afford to join could freely use.”
  • A man shared how he bought his home because of the proximity of the library.”
  • “Several promises have been made by Midwestern but once a sale is made there is nothing to keep them from selling the dog parks, etc.”
  • Once sold, the Foothills library is not intended to be used as a library but rather as a study area.”
  • It was said by staff that less books were being checked out but a woman who is a library volunteer shared that would be expected since library hours and days have significantly decreased.”

From the comments offered you get the idea. There were a lot of difficult questions for staff with less than satisfactory answers. Staff promised to look into the many questions and to offer complete answers online at the city’s website.

Round 2 of the “library war” is:

  • TONIGHT, Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6 PM
  • at the Foothills Branch Library, Coyote Room

The same presentation will be made before the Library Advisory Board with the same opportunity for citizen comments. Seating will probably be at a premium. A word to the wise, come early to guarantee yourself a seat. Let’s outdo the attendance figure of the Monday night meeting. It’s no longer a matter of just saving Foothills library but it also includes preserving the programs and the space needed to conduct them at FRAC as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2015


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