Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Future of the library

The recent death of longtime Grand Forks Public Library director Dennis Page has once again brought the topic of our local library to the community's attention. The current library building was built in 1972 and has certainly started to show its age. It is cramped and very outdated in many respects.

Fellow blogger Tu-Uyen Tran had a great story about the library's future in the Herald and on his blog last year. According to Tu-Uyen, remodeling the current library would cost about $1-$2 million and a brand new library would be just under $10 million.

Fargo is in the process of building a new main library building. The downtown structure will be two stories and will contain over 54,000 square feet. In my opinion, the current Grand Forks library is actually much nicer than the old Fargo library, but the new Fargo library will be a far cry from the 1972 Grand Forks building.

I know Grand Forks has been accused of copying Fargo (and vice versa), but improving public libraries is something that I'm happy to be accused of copying. I feel that we shouldn't let Fargo beat us in this area. I feel that we must start planning to improve our community's library facilities.

Do you think that the Grand Forks Public Library is in need of some major changes? How often do you currently use the library? Would you be more likely to use the library if it was extensively remodeled and/or expanded? How about building a brand new library? If that option was chosen, where would you like to see a new main library building go? How about branch libraries...are there any areas of Grand Forks that you think could stand to have a branch library?

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

First.
Libraries will be gone in 25 years, so visit this one while you can.

Lynsey said...

I highly doubt libraries will be gone in 25 years. There will always be the need for hard copy academic materials, especially if research calls for analyzing antique texts or primary source material.

Formats may change, but libraries will continue to exist. The key is to adapt to the changes. Something I'd like to see libraries move toward is providing digital files as well as books for patrons. For example, if you own an Amazon Kindle or MP3 player with a text-capable screen, you would be able to download a copy of, say, The DaVinci Code at the library that expired after a certain length of time, much like the iTunes movie rental system allows you to download a movie for a couple dollars and view it for a month.

Anonymous said...

they may be gone in less than 10 years, we will have a computer room only !Digital age is here !Tear down the library ? Install 300 computers and printers ?

ndborn said...

I love the GF library ... we visit it a couple times a week ... my friends and family from out of town can't believe how fortunate we are with the DVD selection available to check out for free!!! In my opinion, the library is the best family place in town. We rarely buy books and if we do we donate them when we're done, we figure if we want to read them again we know where to find them. I don't see libraries being a thing of the past, they will always be around, but will just change with the times.

Anonymous said...

I think libraries will have to adapt, but if they continue to develop and grow programs such as after-school reading or cultural and community awareness, there will always be a place for them.

Anonymous said...

Forget a new library, let's build a new Plain Brown Wrapper!

growingupartists said...

I love our library exactly how it is, I wouldn't change a thing. However, I'm confused about UND's library...are we even allowed to use it?

David W said...

Lynsey is on the right track. Libraries, or depositories of information and knowledge, will not go anywhere. Despite what anyone thinks, even in this digital age, there is need (and want) for information that is tangible. Books are widely more popular today because of the digital age and even though handy devices like the Kindle are warming up the market, the paper and hardcover of a book is second to none.

Take a look at the new Seattle Public Libary here and here. Grand Forks is not Seattle and I never advocate the gratuitous spending of taxpayer dollars, but a library is a necessary function of a just political society. Forget pumping wasted dollars into the government schools, built a smart and aesthetic public library and the community will be far better off.

bjmoney said...

A library is a necessary part of any community. I haven't been to the current grand forks library for quite sometime, but used to visit the fargo library quite often when I lived there, cheapest place to rent movies.

Anonymous said...

I really like the library and take my kids there often. The place is adequate enough, but is pretty much an eyesore inside. It needs a good remodel and updating, but beyond that, it serves the need very well.

Anonymous said...

Growingupartists....About UND's library: to check books out, you'll need to buy an unaffiliated borrowers card ($10 year). To simply go in and use the materials, no charge, but each person who will be using a computer will need a photo ID to get a login.

Libraries equalize access to information. Public libraries like GFPL ensure that everyone, no matter what their income, will have access to knowledge.

By the way, in tribute, I would like to say that Dennis Page was an extraordinary person. He will be greatly missed.

T. Bjerke Disciple said...

I like libraries. Libraries that don't use taxes that is. If you want to read, buy your own book. Don't need no stinkin' tax supported libraries.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's close down them tax sucking schools while we're at it. Jeesh.

Anonymous said...

Building and investing in public schools and libraries is far cheaper than having our kids sent to prisons T. Bjerke Disciple and David W. The United States is falling behind most European and East Asian countries now because we haven't as a society chosen to invest in our future. We'd rather buy the new plasma TV than pay taxes for schools, colleges, roads, and other modern infrastructure like high speed rail. Paul

dale said...
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Anonymous said...

Yes, education isn't valued but it's not just the responsibility of parents. No society that is successful has left education simply up to the family or the private sphere. Germany, Japan, and Taiwan certainly haven't. I think the proliferation of video games, television, and other media is a product of our consumer culture in which Americans have been transformed from citizens into consumers. We've turned everything into a commodity, and I think a lot of this is due to profit seeking companies including the for-profit media where $200 billion is spent on advertising every year.

This is why we need institutions like government, institutions controlled by the public, to espouse values that aren't related to consumerism and profits. We have NPR and PBS but that's not much. Personally I think most media companies should be non-profit like the BBC in the UK which actually serves viewers unlike American TV and trash it airs and promotes. Paul

Anonymous said...

Yup - we should have government run and controlled news media...that would solve everything, huh Paul?

bjmoney said...

@1:18

yeah, thats not happening now...

Anonymous said...

bjmoney is right. Entertainment has merged with news, spurred on by the profit motive, and now there are few, if any, news agencies that you can trust to tell the truth. TV news was never expected to make a profit-because they maintained bureaus in almost every major country/city in the world. Now News is its own cost center and must turn a profit, so all they do is parrot the talking points from press releases and don't do any investigative journalism. This isn't a left vs. right issue. It's about truth. And we're not getting it.

t.Bjerke disciple said...

Schools have libraries supported with taxpayer dollars so let them stay open for the public.

Anonymous said...

4:32 and bjmoney-Do you know what you're saying? You're saying..."We're too stupid to get it, can you help us Mr. Big Government?".

That being said, I can think of two people who are that f'ing stupid!

Anonymous said...

I was being sarcastic about closing down the "tax sucking schools". I like libraries. There is just something about browsing through the stacks and sitting for a few minutes to read the first part of a book before checkout that I find nice. Maybe I'm cheap (or poor) but I don't buy a lot of books so places like Barnes and Noble don't get a lot of my business.
anon@6:48

bjmoney said...

@ 5:33

The BBC does a good job, though it may be helpful since I live outside of Britain. If we had a state run news corp. it would no doubt be even more of a propaganda machine than what we have now.

Anonymous said...

Check out the new library in Bozeman, MT. Wow, I'm jealous!!
http://www.bozemanlibrary.org/newlibrary.html

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:33 -

Not saying that government run news agency is the answer. But non-profit or user-supported is. And in the absence of that, I wouldn't mind returning to the Fairness Doctrine, which was in effect until the Reagan administration abolished it.

What we should avoid is a situation where you have a General Electric, which owns both NBC and defense-related businesses, limiting its criticism of the administration because it doesn't want to lose defense contracts.

Once again, this isn't a left v. right issue, because when we have a Democratic president, name-calling right-wing whiners (like Anon 5:33) will wish the reporting process was more transparent.

deadstick said...

There's still a need for a place that will allow you to take your young children, pick out a number of books, read a few to them there, and let them take a few home. My kids like TV as much as any otheres, but they still are excited when they get to go to the library. And sitting down with a toddler and thumbing through a big Dr. Seuss book is NOT the same as going to Disney.com.

That said, I very rarely use it for myself - if I need to do research, I use the Internet.

Maybe a smaller, more kid-friendly children's library????

dale said...
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Anonymous said...

The resident know-it-all has enlightened us all once again with one of his diatribes. Thank you for that.

My ipod doesn't work any longer, must be Bush's fault, everything else is.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly Clow said...

"the government can now put you in an offshore prison without trial or charges just because they decide they don't like you or your opinions / no, that's just for terrorists," I pointed out that, whether it's used or not, it wasn't even possible ten years ago and, in fact, you'd be considered some sort of fascist if you suggested it might be a good idea."

Dale, you do know that the precedent for this was established in Johnson v. Eisentrager WAY back in 1950, right? The concept isn't , as some would assert, strictly a "Bush Thing".

The question I have is, How have your civil rights, in particular, been affected by any of the ten titles of the Patriot Act?

I'm assuming that you are a US citizen who is not engaged in international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, so I'm guessing that the Patriot Act has nothing to do with you.

Unless you are referring to the POSSIBLE misuse of the provisions against you in some distant, bleak, Orwellian future where section 223 of the Patriot Act has been discarded in favor of tapping your phone to see if you are toeing the New World Order Line, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

GJB said...

Dale,

lawsuits from the ACLU (which Rush Limbaugh has convinced the public is a commie organization,)

I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh and I'm thoroughly convinced that the ACLU is a closet communist organization. I've come to that opinion based on what I read about the ACLU in the news...

Kelly Clow said...

Anonymous @ 10:06 AM,

I may disagree with Dale's political point of view from time to time, but to derisively refer to the man as "The resident know-it-all" is unfair.

Dale consistently contributes to the intelligence around here and I, for one, welcome his opinions, even if they differ from my own on occasion.

Keep on, keepin' on, Dale!

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Think people in North Dakota have a little different perspective on the threat from radical Islamist extremists?

Obviously

Anonymous said...

Didn't Congress pass the latest surveillance bill?

Who controls Congress these days?

Anonymous said...

11:51
That's one thing that's always puzzled me about the Prairie States. With almost no chance of being the target of a terrorist attack, people here are much more fearful than people on the coasts. I'm sure part of it is xenophobia, come on.

Kelly Clow said...

"With almost no chance of being the target of a terrorist attack, people here are much more fearful than people on the coasts. I'm sure part of it is xenophobia, come on."

Actually, I'd bet it's because ND was on the top of the attack list during the Cold War because of the nuke silos. That's a feeling that's hard to shake, I imagine.

But, then again, it's probably because everyone in flyover country are just a bunch of racist hicks, right? America only exists on the coasts, I guess.

Anonymous said...

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So, the fourth amendment, for a long time was understood to mean that the Gov could not just listen to your phone calls without probable cause - and the executive branch had to take their cause to a judge to sign off.

The Patriot Act and the changes to FISA are changing this paradigm: the exec does not need probable cause and the exec does not need a judge to sign off

I believe this is what Dale was talking about. The sorts of invasions of privacy that most Americans today seem willing to permit are ones that 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago would be considered violations of the Fourth Amendment.

So, as Scalia and Thomas (and Alito and Roberts) would ask: what does the plain language of the amendment mean; what did the Founders think it meant? Would the founders permit the government to open any mail (using mail as a proxy for phones since no phones in 1791) it thought might be of interest and just bypass any oversight?

Anonymous said...

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So, the fourth amendment, for a long time was understood to mean that the Gov could not just listen to your phone calls without probable cause - and the executive branch had to take their cause to a judge to sign off.

The Patriot Act and the changes to FISA are changing this paradigm: the exec does not need probable cause and the exec does not need a judge to sign off

I believe this is what Dale was talking about. The sorts of invasions of privacy that most Americans today seem willing to permit are ones that 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago would be considered violations of the Fourth Amendment.

So, as Scalia and Thomas (and Alito and Roberts) would ask: what does the plain language of the amendment mean; what did the Founders think it meant? Would the founders permit the government to open any mail (using mail as a proxy for phones since no phones in 1791) it thought might be of interest and just bypass any oversight?

Anonymous said...

I think you're right Kelly. People still talk about being a target from the cold war years and the Minot area still contains missile silos, so people may still believe that countries like Iran and North Korea may feel that they are a target still. I find it hard to believe that people here are more fearful of being attacked than those in NY City that may have been closely affected by 9/11.

jo said...

People still talk about being a target from the cold war years and the Minot area still contains missile silos

That's right - haven't you seen War Games? NoDak's the first to get it!

Drew said...

Away from the divergent conversation about the Patriot Act and FISA (which I wholeheartedly disagree with)...

The library is definitely in need of expansion. I can't believe first how many great books just go through as sold and free books. The asiles are getting smaller and smaller as the years go by and it seems like there is less and less room to just sit down and read. We need a new library simple as that. I wish we would stop throwing money at pools and realize that a newer building for our public library would be a huge thing for the community.

As a once aspiring architect a new library sounds so exciting.

akm said...

A letter to the editor today encouraged people to take action to upgrade the library. As an example of what kind of library a town this size could have, it referenced the new library in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which just won library of the year.
http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6568073.html

akm said...

A new library could go in the old Leever's store or where the Civic auditorium was. If it's done right, it will definitely boost the area.

Anonymous said...

No one likes the ACLU until they need them.

The Whistler said...

For my money I'd say keep the current building unless you could find an economical way to add on.

Building a new one wouldn't fit any reasonable cost/benefit ratio.

I also would encourage the library to stick to books and drop the free computer and video rentals.

I don't use the library myself. I prefer buying my books.

However I don't mind providing books and a place to read them. I don't think that should extend to someone's internet or video rentals.

Ivyvine said...

I vote for one big library. I have not had many experiences with branch libraries, but the few that I have (in the Minneapolis area) left me missing the GF Library. Not as far as looks go, those branch libraries were very nice, but in content.