Save the Charleston Library

The Kanawha County Library is determined to build a new main branch in downtown Charleston that will cost more than $50 Million Dollars. This blog gives regular people a public place to discuss the issue. You have a voice!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Plea for Sanity

Dear Library Foundation Board,

I know that everyone likes new things, and I know that you have been looking forward to a new main branch for a long time. When you first began the process of planning the new library we lived in a different world and local community. As an outsider I have no way of knowing the kinds of things you have discussed in your planning and strategy meetings, but here are just a few things that I hope you have considered:
  1. As much as I know that it must torment you, books are becoming less important with each passing day. The Internet has affected the way we all live and get our information. Kindles and iPads are here to stay.
  2. We live in a "greening" society that cares about the environment. Building new buildings when we can retrofit what we already have is wasteful and harmful to our environment.
  3. The building that you already have is a fortress that could be renovated and brought to current standards for a fraction of the cost of a new building.
  4. The new building that you want is ostentatious, which would be fine if we lived in a community that was able to afford it. But we can't.
  5. 120,000 square feet is obscene.
  6. $40 Million dollars is obscene.
  7. The private money that you raise for this project will reduce the amount of money in the community that goes to organizations that provide critical human health and welfare needs. Don't kid yourselves: The Clay Center sucked this community dry for ten years and now your project will do the same.

Please, Library Foundation leaders, examine the real cost of this project and consider the enormous challenges that Charleston faces in the next 10 years. Don't get caught up in the fever of wanting something new and shiny and convince yourselves that you can't live without it.