Guest opinion: If information is power, Menlo Park's main library is about to short-circuit | June 20, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

Viewpoint - June 20, 2018

Guest opinion: If information is power, Menlo Park's main library is about to short-circuit

by Monica Corman

In an age where "information is power," 21st century public libraries can provide arsenals of invaluable resources for personal and community discovery. For everyone from toddlers to teens, from resourceful entrepreneurs to retirees, the Menlo Park Library has been a place to listen, learn, collaborate, study, and create for 61 years.

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Posted by numbers
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2018 at 7:53 am

340,000 people divided by 312 days in the year the library is open equals 1089 people a day.
1089 people a day divided by 8 hours in the day, means 136 people an hour.

Is the Menlo Park library large enough to accommodate 136 people an hour?


6 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

The central issue is not if MP's libraries could improve or not. Few visiting other modern libraries disagree with the idea that our Main Library could improve or that the Belle Haven branch is woefully inadequate. The issue pertains to priorities for MP's Capital Improvement projects. Residents need to know why a new Main Library (not the Belle Haven Branch as few would disagree with that priority) should take priority over any number of other worthy -- yet unfunded -- CIPs such as fixing our traffic infrastructure, adding affordable housing, and so forth. We also need a major fundraising campaign, led by the Foundation, designed to raise a portion (10% or so) of the money needed. A major fund-raising campaign, with library management contributing (no matter the amount) would build credibility and support. The 2017 City Satisfaction survey showed inadequate taxpayer support for building a new Main Library. This was despite what many described as "leading survey questions" designed to generate support. So a new communication approach is needed. We also need a fund-raising approach like the City of Palo Alto conducted when it decided to modernize its libraries. As the original donor earmarked his money strictly towards building a new Main Library, donors might also like to be able to earmark their money towards the Belle Haven Branch. As soon as I see a major fund-raising effort started, and the ability to earmark donations, I will send in my check -- earmarked towards a Belle Haven Branch building fund!


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Libraries are an anachronism. Beyond providing access points to the internet, where almost all books are available, they are not necessary. It is ridiculous to spend money on expanding libraries. The books are available on the internet. Poorer areas where the internet is not as available expanded library services make sense. Not in the majority of MP where internet is ubiquitous.


5 people like this
Posted by Yo Wackerman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Yo Wackerman is a registered user.

I fully agree with the comments of Lynne Bramlett above. Instead of pushing for a rebuild of the main library, we should be focused on improving the "woefully inadequate" Belle Haven branch. But whichever project moves forward, it should only be with the majority consent of the Menlo Park taxpayers.


4 people like this
Posted by Nancy Borgeson
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 24, 2018 at 12:17 am

There are quite a few meeting rooms in the MP Rec. Center, which was redesigned and rebuilt just recently for a substantial amount of money. Are these rooms used to capacity? Must the library provide space for every library-related activity? Can't MP do story time or book readings or other book-related activities at the Rec. Center on occasion? After all, the two faciities are right next door to each other. If I didn't know better, I might think we could be in danger of creating competing kingdoms in Burgess Park.


2 people like this
Posted by Yo Wackerman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 25, 2018 at 6:46 pm

Yo Wackerman is a registered user.

If additional space for meetings is needed, a more economic option would be to repurpose and redesign the Council Chambers building in Burgess Park, not far from the library. Conveniently located, and (according to the presenters at an early public hearing concerning the library project) currently not seeing much use. As a revamped meeting/classroom space, it could serve in a multi-use manner, accommodating the needs of the City Council, as well as library patrons (children’s story hour, etc).


2 people like this
Posted by Toddler mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 26, 2018 at 9:45 pm

My children and their friends make great use of the current Main Menlo Park library, but compared to Mitchell Park and other newer libraries in nearby cities, ours seems shabby and outdated. Let's get with the program and provide a place for the next generation of our community to grow and learn and study together, in a well-lit, welcoming, technologically-appropriate place!

As stated above by Lynne and Yo, our Main Library could use improvement, and the Belle Haven branch is woefully inadequate. Cheers to agreeing that we need to move forward!


4 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 27, 2018 at 11:04 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

To Toddler Mom -- I think you read my comments, and those from Yo, too quickly as you are using them out of context to support your opinion that MP needs a new library. In mine, I merely observe that our library could improve just as I could observe that typical homes in MP are smaller than typical homes in Atherton. However, that doesn't mean that our residents need bigger homes. Instead of bandwagon-based appeals, the library needs to address the residents' primary concerns and resistance to the idea of a new Main Library building project. I also agree with Yo's comments regarding priorities and the need to follow residents' wishes. Menlo Park's latest budget document lists many Capital Improvement projects that have varying stages of funding. Some have none at all and others only partial funding. The true costs of many of these is not also detailed. Residents would also like to see other Capital Improvement Projects, such as more affordable housing, that aren't yet on the CIP list! We also have need to be concerned about the matter of MP's unfunded pension liabilities. According to pensiontracker.org, MP's unfunded tab was about 160 million as of 2015. Web Link Unfunded pension liabilities have put other cities into bankruptcy, so MP residents are wise to be cautious about signing up for more debt. Residents have stated that they want to see all possible CIPs evaluated as a group and in relation to each other. That's an excellent goal for next year's January budget kick-off meeting.


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