The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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Letters to the Editor

August 18, 2013

Letters to the Editor 8/18/13

The News Courier encourages letters to the editor. Submissions should be no more than 400 words and should include a name, address and telephone number for verification. Submissions that do not meet requirements are subject to editing. Send letters by noon on Thursdays to P.O. Box 670, Athens, AL, 35613, or email to adam@athensnews-courier.com.

Library project is open book

Dear Editor:

This responds to Mr. Quentin Anderson's Aug. 4, letter, “Public’s interest at heart?” His letter was commenting upon one submitted by Ms. Georgina Garth on July 8.

Mr. Anderson commented critically upon the openness of the library project to public scrutiny. This project has been discussed at numerous public meetings. There has been discussion and presentations to the City Council and the County Commission. Some meetings included the library’s then and future operating budget proposals, and new library cost estimates. Numerous newspaper articles were printed. Also, the library performs an annual financial audit and provides copies to the County Commission, the city of Athens, and the Alabama Public Library Service (ALPS). 

Ms. Garth explained the new library's square footage requirements history. They were calculated in 2007 by Davis Architects of Birmingham, using ALPS guidelines. These guidelines are based on population densities. The new library will be 38,427 square feet, vs. the “then” calculated need of 37,106 square feet.

Mr. Anderson raised old resolved issues. He would like certain public conveniences eliminated in the new library, such as an auditorium and a coffee shop.  The auditorium is a small one. It is part of the planned conference and meeting room area. The city has long recognized a need for such space. The current library has such a room. Unfortunately it has not been used in that way since August 2001. As for the coffee shop, this is not an unusual feature to have in a modern library, e.g. the Florence Public Library.

The Library’s Board of Trustees, and the Foundation, understands our responsibility to provide informed and accurate communication. Regarding the future operating costs of the new library, it will obviously be more expensive. No member of the staff, the board, or the foundation ever suggested otherwise.  Since we do not have historical cost for operating in the new library there is some element of uncertainty in future operating costs. How could it be otherwise?

The library board asked the city for a $150,000 appropriation for fiscal year 2013-2014. That is a 30 percent increase over the city's current $115,000 support; however, the total proposed increase to the budget for next year is 13.6 percent. The total proposed budget in FY 2013-2014 is $595,205 vs. $523,850 budgeted in 2012-2013. That increased amount is from all sources, and includes one quarter in the new building.

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