Church land ideal for new library

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2001

I have been amazed at the recent action by the Assembly with regard to the purchase of a site for a new Valley library. I had no idea one could "deappropriate" (is there such a word?) money appropriated for that purpose. I thought the issue was settled and thought it was a good decision and I'll tell you why.

The Faith Lutheran Church land is a prime piece of Valley property offered at an excellent price and no doubt worth more than asked. It is large enough to accommodate library, parking and grounds as well as providing for growth. Equally as important is the fact that since neither the church nor the municipality pay property tax, nothing would be lost from tax rolls.

Yes, it is possible to enlarge the existing facility in the Mendenhall mall and I am sure the landlord would relish the opportunity to accommodate such an expansion. But that was not what we thought we were voting for five years ago when we approved setting money aside from sales tax revenues to go toward a new library.

Libraries are not square rooms with bookshelves. Those of us who count on our library as a resource expect to find a great deal more than a card catalog and a stern librarian. We want a place to hold meetings, take our children for story time and other programs, comfortable space to spread out newspapers or read magazines and helpful staff willing to teach us new on-line techniques or help with research for a term paper. As the cyber world grows, so will our need to manage it and the library will be a key player in guiding us through mega information sources.

A new building designed as a library and not an afterthought makes more sense than trying to remodel existing retail space. It's time to invest our time and our money to benefit the future instead of settling for getting by. For once let's aim for the best in function and design. We are the Capital. Let's act like it.

Mary Lou Spartz

Juneau



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