Guest Opinion: 21st century libraries are good investment Books, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jun 11, 2008 at 12:07 pm
In an earlier opinion piece on the November library bond, Diana Diamond argued that we should cut the proposed bond measure by as much as one-third in the hope that the lower amount might more easily gain voter approval.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 12:00 AM
Posted by No on library bond, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 11, 2008 at 12:22 pm
I would be extremely wary of anything that Bern Beecham has to say about money. He was on the council for 8 years and during that time our city's infrastructure has become decrepit, we wasted countless amounts of money and he let our tax base dwindle.
No thanks, Bern, we are not interested in your views on the library bond.
We need a single central library like Mountain View built (which Bern references in his op-ed), not money sucking branches.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm
What you say is true, but you haven't defined what a 21st century library looks like.
Most residents are strapped for time, used to computers and look to our libraries as a place on our errand run. Granted we have families who look on a trip to the library as an outing and seniors who look to the library as a senior center alternative, particularly in hot or cold weather. These two groups are catered for in many ways (although air conditioning can stop them being cooling off places for seniors). Apart from this, what we need is an efficient library service at Main and Mitchell where we can do what is necessary for us, and a dropoff/pick up desk replacing full library services at downtown and college terrace. Since the majority of library patrons I know use the library hold system and are able to facilitate their perusals at home, the full service library is a thing of the past.
Yes. 21st century libraries. A new concept not a rehash of the old branch system. Give us decent facilities at two and take away the need for four.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 9:25 am
1) to: "money, money, money", As usual, numbers alone don't tell the whole story. In fact, given our patron visit numbers, and the fact that we have many convenient branches (unlike the other libraries you list) that serve thousands of school kids, daily - in addition to many more thousands of commuters - there is no comparison in cost *efficiency*, and community value gained. Like Mr. Beecham said, this is a great value.
2) to: "no on library bond", In fact, Mr. Beecham presided over Council at onf of the most difficult times in Palo Alto's history, helping to leave Palo Alto with the highest municipal credit rating in the region, and overwhelmingly satisfied residents (as shown nin multiple audits, taken by our award-winning auditor).
3) to: "Resident", In fact, since the onset of the Internet, library circulation and visits have *increased*. Like most institutions, libraries are evolving. You're partially correct in the assertion that library use patterns are shifting, but are missing the fact that many more library services exist today than in years past, and that libraries - in addition to their continued high use as information centers - actually provide *more* services than they did in the past.
In all, Palo Alto's library system delivers the following:
A) outstanding value; it's highly integrated with PAUSD, with plans to do more. Thus, our library increases the value of our local real estate, as school quality is directly related to the value of local real estate. Studies have *universally* shown that there is a positive return on tax dollar investment in public libraries - branch and single library systems, alike. Palo Alto is no different
B) Planned future integration with community recreation services, as our public library takes on the additional task of becoming an information/cultural center - a "third place" - for youth, seniors (soon to be almost 40% of our population); businesses, schools, independent learners, and so on. Imagine what our city would be like without our wonderful library system. We would lose many of the distributed benefits of such a system. As it is, our branch system saves many, many thousands of automobile trips, every year. That alone - in terms of a *real* carbon loading savings to the environment, creates yet *another* value point.
Lastly, those who think that the Internet has replaced the value of public libraries, should think again. The British Library just finished a study showing that the INternet generation is seriously lacking in deep research and synthesis skills, in favor of skimming information. With this development in knowledge, it seems that libraries and other venues that provide opportunities to go deeper into knowledge, with more meaning, in an increasing socially and culturally aware populace, present an unparalleled public institution *opportunity* to increase the public good, as libraries integrate with and scale with technology.
Palo Alto's library bond is the best deal around. The value is there, and continues to grow. To throw this asset away for fear of a $10 additional per month investment (in community, kids, real estate values, integrated institutional savings, etc. etc.) would be tantamount to a public crime. Where else do your public dollars deliver the kind of value spoken to above, and more?
Posted by money money money, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 9:41 am
Mike, as usual you don't have any numbers. In terms of patron visits, Palo Alto sits on par with neighboring cities. In terms of square footage, Palo Alto is below neighboring cities. In terms of actual hours you can visit the library, Palo Alto is below neighboring cities. In terms of budget, Palo Alto spends up to twice as much as neighboring cities.
Posted by Library User, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 9:58 am
I don't know anyone who gets in their car to go to the library and then gets back in their car and drives home. In today's high gas prices and busy lifestyle, most users treat a trip to the library as a stop on a list of errands. Young school children don't go there on their own and again if parents take them by car, it is with other errands or even on the way home from school or other activities. School children who use libraries on their own, do so because they are near schools. For this reason, an argument could have been used to save Terman library when Terman wasn't a middle school, but the reason Mitchell Park is so used by children is because it is beside JLS. Main is not far from Jordan and Paly and Gunn are near the more central Mitchell and Main libraries.
Please don't use less car trips in your arguments, because that one doesn't work.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 11:07 am
Thanks for reinforcing my point. Of COURSE the schools are nearby the libraries, and OF COURSE that's one reason that student use of those libraries is so prolific.
The fact is that thousands of students visit Mitchell, Main, and College Terrace libraries every year, after school, and otherwise - and they do so unaccompanied by adults. Again, that's a fact. If you don't think it's a fact, you might try visiting Mitchell at 3PM, any school-day afternoon; or visiting Main in the evening.
I use three libraries in town, and have noticed for years that MANY patrons approach these libraries on foot. Some, like those in College Terrace, DO run errands, but it's on their bikes.
It's also a fact that if we didn't have branch libraries, and just one central library, 10's of thousands of extra car trips would have to be made to that library, compared to branch libraries.
Last, with the cost of gas going up, for good, it's not a stretch to assume that residents will want to find alternate modes of living their lives. They'll be biking, scootering, and walking MORE. Giving residents distributed service access means they're less likely to use a car for their daily business. That's a good thing - and yet another good value that libraries bring.
Posted by Library User, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 12:00 pm
People would still do their trips to the library combined with other errands, regardless. That means there will be not be thousands of extra car trips, perhaps just a few detours, but even those will be minimal as Mitchell and Main are on arterials which mean people pass them on their way to other destinations.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 12:46 pm
money, money, money, IN fact, Palo Alto runs just more than twice the library square footage of libraries than a city like Mt. View (due to our wonderful, distributed branch system), but we run our library in a far more efficient way. We run twice the space as Mt. View, at virtually the same cost. I'd say that's pretty good value for our tax dollars, in addition to all the other benefits.
Posted by Library User, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm
People would have to drive agreed, but they would not be extra trips. They would be detours or another errand on a list. You are talking about extra trips, these would not be extra, they would just be extensions.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2008 at 8:37 pm
Mike is back with his usual claims and no backup data. Now he is joined by Beecham with more marketing hype – and no backup data:
> “Spending tax money on libraries is a good investment for our future.” Based on ?
> “It should provide meeting space that can accommodate everything from storytime for pre-schoolers ... to homework space for teens ... to work spaces for the increasing numbers of people who work from home ... to lecture spaces for authors' book talks.”
Why would someone who works from home go to the library for a work space? And why should our tax dollars pay for that?
> “Current ballpark estimates are that the average annual cost of the bond for a Palo Alto homeowner would be less than $170, (and the net cost for the majority of taxpayers who get an income tax deduction would then come down to about $110).”
How about the folks who don’t itemize? How about the folks who have $1 or $2 million dollar homes? How about the annual 2% increase in valuations?
How about the increased utility rates – that will go up again next year and probably every year after that? How about the school bond’s continued tax? How about the COPS program for the police building which will cost the city $5 million/year for 30 years?
> “This is a reasonable amount to pay for improving all of our libraries.”
Reasonable according to what standards? Instead of looking at what one individual homeowner might pay, we should be looking at the TOTAL cost of all the bonds and COPS. A large percentage of our tax dollars leaves the city every year, going to investors to pay off the loans.
> “The proposed bond is a good value for our tax dollars.”
Based on what evidence? There has never been a fiscal analysis of our library system. No one on city staff or city council can tell us how much it costs to run each of the branches. According to Sharon Erickson, our former (excellent) city auditor, the budget is constructed in such a way that we can’t determine how much it costs to operate each city facility.
Can you imagine a business not knowing how much it costs to run a plant or sales office or R&D facility or .... ?
If the city made fiscally responsible -- as opposed to emotional, politically-expedient -- decisions, the council would have demanded that Diane Jennings, as library director, present
(1) the total cost (staffing, utilities, maintenance, gardening, collections, IT expenses, administration, etc.) of each branch.
(2) the total cost of a single library.
Only by comparing those options could Council have made a wise decision on what would be best for the entire community, particularly in these tough economic times.
Instead, we get polls, fluff pieces like Beecham’s, and expensive mailers saying, “The City of Palo Alto has begun to assess how to address our library needs in a way that will be fiscally responsible.”
Sounds like the marketing consultants picked up on residents' complaints that there's no fiscal responsibility at City Hall, so they included the phrase in their marketing piece.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 14, 2008 at 8:42 pm
> “Pat thinks the City Council doesn't know how much it costs to run our library. Again, he's *wrong*. The City Council knows, to the penny,…”
If the city council knows, why don’t they tell Diane Jennings? She does not know, to the penny or to the dollar. Sharon Erickson didn’t know, either. She reported that “allocated charges” generally includes the building maintenance and utilities expense . . . it’s tracked by type of expense and is not easily available by location.”
> “Pat egregiously misrepresents the conclusions from Sharon Eriksons library audit. Ms. Erikson concluded that our library infrastructure was the worst in the region, and badly in need of repair.”
Yes, our library is in bad shape. The audit, per Erickson, “… focused on staffing because that’s where 77% of the cost is, and we focused on how that staffing could be used more efficiently, ..."
Further, “delivering services through 5 branches is more expensive than a single facility system. It requires duplication of effort – the example we used on page 16 was Santa Clara which only needs 11 employees to staff customer service desks in its 80,000 square foot library, compared to Palo Alto that needs 14 employees to staff customer service desks in our total of 51,000 square feet (spread across 5 facilities).”
Posted by library user, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 14, 2008 at 11:09 pm
Benchmarking is useful in the case of public libraries. I think we should look to our neighbors and emulate the success of Mt. View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara. We really don't need and can't afford to support odd branches like downtown and College Terrace.
Posted by library user, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 15, 2008 at 11:24 pm
pat, about library finances: "If the city council knows, why don’t they tell Diane Jennings? She does not know, to the penny or to the dollar. Sharon Erickson didn’t know, either. She reported that “allocated charges” generally includes the building maintenance and utilities expense . . . it’s tracked by type of expense and is not easily available by location.”"
It IS in there, and the library director does know. how dare you spread lies like that!
also, pat _completely_ distorted the auditors study, whose major conclusion was that our library branch system had been badly neglected. seriously, has pat even read the auditor's report?
and money, Mike DID show how much more efficient the Palo Alto system is than Mt. view, because PA is open more cumulative hours here are the numbers:
"Mountain View Circulation - 697,552 items
Palo Alto circulation (*excluding* Children's Lib from January to Sept., 2007) - 1,414,509
Mountain View patron visits - 447,863
Palo Alto patron visits (minus Children's, for same date above) - 862,081 (this number would have been considerably higher had Children's not been closed for 66% of 2006)
It looks like Palo Alto's library system handles more than twice the number of circulated items, and almost twice the patron visits (both numbers would be more if Children's Library was open for a full year, in 2006).
In fact, Palo Alto's library system pulls this off - serving more than twice the patrons, and generating more than twice the circulation, for LESS than double the Mt. View Library cost.
Thus, Palo Alto's operation is more efficient than Mt. View's. Other comparisons can be made that more than favorably compare our library with most others, EXCEPT for the state of our collection, and our library infrastructure."
Posted by Library User, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 8:47 am
How can it be said that libraries are open more hours here when you can't get to a library at 7.00 pm? It doesn't make an iota of difference if there are four libraries open at 4.00pm and none open at 7.00pm. More library hours, mean that the libraries are open longer during the day, not duplicating the same meagre hours at four locations.
Posted by too many branches, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 11:04 am
Give me a solid, high quality collection that includes music, audio books, DVDs, magazines, and children & adult materials at the same location and I'll come back to the Palo Alto library system whatever the hours or locations might be. Until then, I'm a regular patron of surrounding cities and will vote no on the bond.
The number one priority should be the quality/quantity of the materials, not quality/quantity of branches.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 11:39 am
So the only ways to actually accomplish a rationalization of the PA systems is to:
- email your Council Members that you won't vote for a bond that provides capital for all the branches (email address on the city web site)
- attend Council meetings where the Library is discussed, to communicate your opposition to such a wasteful bond
- actively campaign (signs, talk to friends, etc.) against a bond, explaining why it is bad for Palo Alto
- vote against such a bond until they get it right
It's good that we all want to spend money on the libraries. But if we sustain our irrational branch system, we doom ourselves to substandard libraries for a long time. Let's do better for ourselves and future PA's - let's fix this now.
Posted by library user, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 1:26 pm
money said "How does Mountain View provide for the same level of Patrons/Circulation for half the cost that Palo Alto pays?"
You'd better look at those numbers again, because it looks to me like you can't read. PA is open three time more cumulative hours, circulation is higher (don't forget, the Childrens library wasn't included, and PA has more visits (not including Children's library.. PA is open more cumulative hours, WAY more (three time more), and runs on about the same budget. PA has less population than MV, so your per capita numbers are skewed
Looks like PA is WAY more EFFICIENT than Mt. View, because MV runs only 1/3 the cumulative hours, but spend more than half what PA depends just to run ONE library.
PA has a heralded branch system, that our citizens want. Try again, money, and this time do an apples to apples comparison, instead of your and that clown pat's half-baked Mickey Mouse analysis.another thing, palo alto is sick and tired of losers in the minority controlling this city.
Total #hours you can visit a library: 62 hours per week (This includes the earliest opening and latest closing across ALL branches)
Somehow Library User wishes you to believe that since Palo Alto libraries are accessible for 62 hours a week vs. Mountain View's 64 hours that you are getting value for money.
So, we've now established that not only is Palo Alto paying twice as much as Mountain View but Palo Alto libraries have less square footage and are open less hours. Whilst only serving the same number of patrons and circulation. Not good.
Oh, as to the "PA has a heralded branch system"...there doesn't seem to be any mention of it in the library rankings: Web Link
Posted by library user, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 3:23 pm
Money, your links are worthless without accurate addition, and analysis. Let's look at yet another one of your bogus distortions.
Mt. View - ONE library - open a CUMULATIVE 62 hours
Mt. View Central - 62 hours
PA - FIVE branches - open a CUMULATIVE 238 hours!!!!!!
Main - 62 hours
Mitchell - 58 hours
Children's - 48 hours
College Terrace - 35 hours
Downtown - 35 hours
So, PA has FIVE branches open for ONLY TWICE the per capita total cost of MV's library. Looks like MV falls FAR behind in efficiency to me. AND MV has MORE people, which makes the comparison favor PA even MORE.
So, PA runs it's entire branch system for only 2x the percapita cost of MV - do the math - that makes MV only just less than HALF as efficient as MV!!!!
Our branch system is a a fantastic boon to the residents, with multiple locations for walking (you don't have to drive, and pollute), cultural events, storytimes, after-school homework, cultural displays, business research, meeting and reading places, all visited by loyal patrons who say in poll after poll after poll that they want branches, for WAY LESS than MV runs one measly library. Looks like you're WRONG, again!
AND, the award-winning PA auditor says that PA's library is in sore need of physical and collections updating. Or, do you want to try spinning the audit again, and lying about the auditor's main conclusions.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 3:46 pm
Lib User, your logic evades me and seems like just boosterism. "Only 2x the per capita cost" does not sound very attractive to me.
I'd rather have one attractive, modern, library, with the whole collection together and available, along with all the touted events. Yes, I'll probably drive there - but since our sparse collection is distributed across 5 locations today, there is plenty of driving already, not to mention going to Los Altos for a real library.
BTW, please tell, in Green Acres, which branch do you walk to? I would guess the Los Altos library would be closer than any of the PA branches. What benefit do Green Acres and Barron Park residents get from our branch system please?
Posted by library user, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 4:40 pm
"What benefit do Green Acres and Barron Park residents get from our branch system please?"
I have good friends woh live within walking distance of those libraries; they love and cherish them - many thousands of Palo Altans use the branches, and I use the downtown branch often. My kids use Mitchell a lot
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm
Thanks Lib User. So to clarify, you and your family don't walk to any branch, since Green Acres and Barron Park (like most PA neighborhoods) don't have any walk-able branches (nearest would be Mitchell Park, across El Camino and Alma). And you drive across town to go to the downtown branch (not sure why - their collection is tiny).
Sounds like your family would be a great candidate for using one big central library!
Posted by Libraries Matter, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:44 pm
We really need to pass this bond. Our libraries are desperately in need of an overhaul. If we're a caring community, we'll spend the money to keep this great resource available to those who rely on libraries in this community, from teens to elders.
If anyone's used a bathroom in Mitchell Park lately, they'll marvel, as I do, at the ancient and creaky design. We need to invest in updating community resources. We cannot keep turning our backs on our assets. They require this reinvestment, and we should all vote YES.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:46 pm
> “the award-winning PA auditor says that PA's library is in sore need of physical and collections updating. Or, do you want to try spinning the audit again, and lying about the auditor's main conclusions.”
Is it “spinning” the audit to quote the conclusion that it takes more people to staff five branches than to staff one library?
> “also, pat _completely_ distorted the auditors study, whose major conclusion was that our library branch system had been badly neglected. seriously, has pat even read the auditor's report?”
Check page 16. That’s where Erickson gives an example of five branches requiring more employees.
> Re library finances and the fact that no one knows the operating costs for each branch, library user writes, “… the library director does know. how dare you spread lies like that!”
If you think the library director knows exactly how much it costs to operate each branch –-including utilities, maintenance, gardening, collections, IT, administration, etc. -- why don’t you ask her for the numbers? Please post the information when you get it.
I did ask her last year, and she said she does not know. It’s not her fault. It’s the way the city budget is structured.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 10:56 pm
pat, "Check page 16. That’s where Erickson gives an example of five branches requiring more employees"
There's lots in the audit about all the VALUE that the library brings. Why don't you mention that? Penny wise, pound foolish? Sounds like it.
Why don't you mention the FACT that polls show that Palo Altans want branch libraries? Check your facts, and stop being selective.
And, Library Director DOES know how much it costs to run the library, and so do LOTS of other people. Where have you been? Frankly, I don't think you've asked ANYONE about this, but pretend you have, to prove your point.
Whatever the library costs to run, it pays back a handsome benefits profit to the taxpayers. That's been SHOWN, 25 times, in studies, all over the country, but you deny those, too. You claim special knowledge about libraries, and other things, but you have nothing but selective data points - you NEVER present the big picture.
pat, the whole is larger than the sum of the parts. That's a lesson you need to learn.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 10:59 pm
Another thing I know is that Palo Alto runs one very EFFICIENT library system. I was just looking at the numbers that a poster put up, above. WOW!!! 238 cumulative hours in PA, compared to MV's lowly 62 hours!! Kudos to our librarians, and the community that supports them. Hurrah!!!
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 11:09 pm
Lib User, it sounds like your mobile family would have no trouble getting to a central library, so that's good. Neither would the rest of Palo Alto. And the collection would be there, as opposed to now when it might be there or perhaps at another branch.
It is hard to defend our branch system, though it doesn't stop the boosters from trying. Hopefully we will get past this and bring our libraries up to par. Otherwise, I expect the bond will go down badly, since the inefficient branches will give doubters such an easy reason to vote no.
Posted by No on the library bond, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 8:18 am
Mike--of course PA will have more cumulative hours--we have 5 money sucking branches. Mtn View for example decided to go with a single state of the art branch--while we plod along with 5 branches--it is quality not quantity that matters here and our quality is sorely lacking.
No to the branches--no on the current library bond
Posted by money money money, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 8:21 am
Mike, your idea of "efficient" is similar to your idea of "value for money".
Somehow you believe that paying twice as much for a library system that is open less hours, has less square footage, offers less services and only handles the same number of patrons/circulation is "efficient" and "value for money".
If only you could point to something that actually provided an independent view to back up your arguments. Instead you're reduced to making up numbers in the hope that they would be accepted at face value. Unfortunately, you've been caught out. You need to come to forums better prepared.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 9:11 am
> “And, Library Director DOES know how much it costs to run the library, and so do LOTS of other people. … Frankly, I don't think you've asked ANYONE about this, but pretend you have, to prove your point.”
Mike, why don’t you ask the library director -- or the city council -- for the TOTAL costs, broken out by each branch. When you get the answers, please post them.
I HAVE asked and I have the email replies, which say the information is not available.
> “Whatever the library costs to run, it pays back a handsome benefits profit to the taxpayers. That's been SHOWN, 25 times, in studies, all over the country, but you deny those, too.”
I don’t deny the studies. I have seen the studies. I wrote to the St. Louis library to get a printed copy of their study, which is not available online. There is no “profit” to taxpayers. I have posted numerous times what the studies show: Libraries provide benefits to library users.
I believe in libraries, but we don’t need five.
> You claim special knowledge about libraries, and other things, but you have nothing but selective data points - you NEVER present the big picture.
I have never claimed any special knowledge about libraries, but I’ve done my homework. The only way to complete the “big picture” and to make a sound decision, is to look at the data.
Posted by notlibmikuser, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 3:36 pm
Most of this analysis is around details and misses a huge aspect of the situation.
Internet-based computing has exploded in popularity because it makes business information and applications, educational information and applications, and entertainment available way more quickly and at way lower cost than previous approaches.
The city is asking us to pay a higher price for marginal improvements in the ability to provide information and entertainment to its citizens, when every other information-based service is providing more at lower prices.
This may seem outlandish in Palo Alto, the woomb of the modern internet era, but it's quite common for the sophisticated to overlook the obvious.
Time to leverage current technology to achieve our goals. Don't throw money at out-of-date and expensive approaches.
Yes, we have bank and brokerage branches but what are they like and what are they for? Mostly to initiate new customers and complement internet activity that makes up most of the interactions.
It's a model for the modern library. Use less money more wisely.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 3:48 pm
me too, "-of course PA will have more cumulative hours--we have 5 money sucking branches"
Sorry, the branches result in a tax investment PROFIT to the city. Twenty Five studies - the last done last year in San Francisco, say so. You need to study up.
pat " Libraries provide benefits to library users."
And those benefits translate into a positive return on tax dollars spent on libraries. Still spinning, pat.
AND, please post your email responses from the city that*absolutely* say that NOBODY knows how much our libraries cost. You say you have them, let's see. Put up or shut up.
and last, to notmiklibuser (??), who offers the same old trite objection about
Internet-based computing has exploded in popularity...blah, blah, blah....."
Go READ the British Library study that I've posted about this, and go READ how Web 2.0 and the MetaWeb (Web 3.0) and so on, have FAR from enabled learners to do sophisticated analysis and synthesis. There is a GAP in certainn kinds of developmental learning that is being caused by your Internet miracle (in fact, you seem to be one of it's victims) Go READ about how libraries are evolving to a "third space". Get out of your own little mythic head, stretch yourself, break AWAY from yuor computer, and LEARN something!!
THis bond is going to pass. My bets are on 69-72%. Anyone with hard cash out there, instead of distorted thinking and misrepresentation about the library? Talk is cheap!
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 3:54 pm
btw, I'm still waiting for a serious refutation of the MASSIVE relative efficencies of Palo Alto's public library system, that maintains FOUR times the cumulative hours of Mt. View, for less than 2x the cost! Wow!! That's VALUE!!! AND, oou citizens LOVE the branches. THAT's the bottom line. (looks like money's argument has been devalued - I guess that's what happens when nobody buys your argument)
Posted by crunching the numbers, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 4:26 pm
"the branches result in a tax investment PROFIT to the city. Twenty Five studies - the last done last year in San Francisco, say so. You need to study up."
That's not entirely correct. The benefit is not a profit to the city (i.e., do the libraries generate revenues for the city?), but rather a "value add" to the users of the library. There's no question that libraries provide a significant added value to their patrons (for example, I personally checked out and read numerous books for free that I would otherwise have had to purchase), but that does not necessarily mean that it's a financial benefit for the city itself.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 5:14 pm
crunching, "I personally checked out and read numerous books for free that I would otherwise have had to purchase), but that does not necessarily mean that it's a financial benefit for the city itself."
Read the studies; they contradict what you say. They SAY that libraries pay back benefits to municipalities within a range of $1.30-$4.60 for every dollar spent on libraries.
If you disagree with these TWENTY FIVE studies, I suggest you try doing one of your own, to disprove their claims - good luck.
me too, LOL!!!! Yet another distortion! As I recall, it's the naysayers who fold in the heat, as they will in November.
The VAST MAJORITY of Palo Altans want their libraries improved, or haven't you noticed?
Posted by naysayer, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 8:21 pm
Maybe I"ll fold in November.
Maybe I want libraries improved,
But, should I want Mitchell torn down, the Mitchell community center torn down, and then an esthetic regression built instead ? At great cost to future citizens? Is that the best improvement we can come up with ? The most prudent use of citizen dollars ?
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 10:41 pm
number cruncher, If your kid uses a library, instead of getting in trouble, the entire community benefits. You appear to be entirely clue free about how a benefit to one member of a community is a benefit to all, when it comes to city services. Barry Goldwater would turn over in his grave if he saw what passes for fiscal conservatives these days!
also a naysayer, the cost of the PA library is about in the middle of the pack, square foot-wise. That's public information. Do. Your. Homework,
Also, the more robust our library, the better it can SCALE in the future, instead of patchwork fixes that cost MORE money in the long run, just to mollify a few nitpickers whose objections are formed without benefit of community input, auditor input, library personnel input, etc. etc. The misinformation here is absolutely STUNNING!
Almost *everything* you say runs against the grain of what the VAST majority of Palo Altans say they already WANT, and what we ALREADY know to be true about our library situation. Give it a rest, and find something else to whine about.
"Grinchfest" is too kind a word for what I see in these forums, when it comes to certain citizens taking responsibility for seeing to it that their city is up to snuff.
Posted by number cruncher, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 8:21 am
I'm not denying that the community receives significant benefits from the libraries. I'm just pointing out that your statements such as "the branches result in a tax investment PROFIT to the city" are entirely misleading, if not completely false.
Look, I think that everyone agrees that libraries provide a definite benefit to the community. The question is whether we are willing to pay for exactly what the bond proposes. If you go by the methodology of the studies you cite, the only way any new investment in the libraries will return benefit to the community is if it leads to more library use or reduces the cost of operating the libraries.
For example, let's just assume that our current library system returns $2 of benefit to patrons for every $1 the city spends. If the city increases spending by 20%, but use and cost remain the same, then the "ROI" drops to only $1.67 of benefit for every dollar spent. It's still a "positive investment", but it's actually worse than before. If use doubles with a 20% increase, then the net benefit increases to $3.33 per dollar spent.
So the argument isn't that library investment returns benefit to the library patrons (that's pretty obvious). The pertinent argument is that the proposed increase in spending will lead to a greater increase in benefit (through increased use or lower cost of operation) than what is occurring currently.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 9:28 am
number cruncher " The pertinent argument is that the proposed increase in spending will lead to a greater increase in benefit (through increased use or lower cost of operation) than what is occurring currently."
And, that's *exactly* the point of the studies. Have you read the studies?
For instance, in Palo Alto's case, it's clear that many citizens have been using other libraries because our collection is emaciated. When the bond passes, and the collection is refreshed and expanded, more citizens will use the library, thus a greater benefit.
Also, the new Mitchell Park facility will lead to greater programming efficiencies among the library, Parks/Rec, and PAUSD. Thus, more benefit.
Once the physical changes and infrastructure repairs are made, the libraries will be FAR more inviting for patrons to visit. The library is currently planning new programs.
Once we have RFID materials handling, expansions in visits/collections/use will scale to *the machines*, to help manage the increase, instead of having to hire new library personnel to handle that collections use increase.
Once we have the bond passed, it will open the floodgates to new possibilities (mentioned briefly, above) between the library and PAUSD. There is a great need for more coordinated effort between the city and PAUSD on a number of issues. "Homework help" and many other web-based programs (Library 2.0) will make that possible - all stemming from the increase in the bond.
The physical infrastructure repairs mean that patchwork repairs will no longer be necessary. IN addition, we'll have the advantage of making the necessary repairs and rebuilds _now_, instead of years from now (which is how long it would take to build another bond measure). Waiting, even if we did ignore the *vast majority* of Palo Altan's wishes to rebuild this system and keep our branches, would end up costingn us as much for *one* library (down the road) as it would from the current bond request that is capable of repairing the *entire 5 branch system*.
There are many other advantages.
Your number crunching posts show me that you have not read the studies, nor do you understand their methodology. Those studies have been designed by conservative econometricians and demographers. We should have taken the time to do one for our own city, to show citizens the positive payback that they receive from tax dollars - as _25_ studies have shown other cities. We didn't do a study because it was deemed to have cost too much, or some didn't see the value. That's a darned shame, because it every single case that those studies have been completed, the city involved said that the study was crucial in passing a much-needed library bond.
IN any case, we can extrapolate from the studies already done; they *universally* report ta positive ROI, in branch and non-branch systems. Given the massively efficient nature by which Palo Alto's library's are currently run (see my earlier comparisons), Palo Alto would have shown some very impressive ROI if we had taken the time to do the studies.
This bond is important to the future of our city, our schools, our neighborhoods, our seniors, and our community cohesion.
I'm confident that this bond will pass, with a 69-72% margin. After that, even doubters will be pleased.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 9:34 am
Anna, Sorry to disappoint you, and sorry that some in this community are unable to note the _universal_ conclusion of those (now 25) studies. Namely, that every tax dollar spent on public libraries results in a positive benefit to the whole community, and returns a positive return on investment to those tax dollars for the ENTIRE community.
San Francisco just completed its study; it's bond passed with a rousing 75% vote. I expect that we will see close to that here.
After our success, perhaps you can take the time to read those studies, and wonder why you missed their insight. Oh well, live and learn.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 10:11 am
A few numbers: The library budget does not include all the operating costs like utilities, maintenance, grounds-keeping, IT expenses – by branch. Nor does it break out collections by branch.
When you look at the budget, some of the staff time under the org chart headings "Library," "Administration," and "Collection & Technical Services" are allocated to the various branches, but we don’t know exactly how that breaks out.
Collections are not budgeted by branch because they serve all the libraries. But if we only had one library, how would the collections change?
I received the following information from Sharon Erickson: “Budget and cost information for the library (like the rest of the city) is traditionally kept by line item and by division (e.g. salaries, supplies) rather than by location. While this works for some types of analysis, it is less helpful for others. …. you can see the break out of the library budget by salaries and benefits, contract services, supplies and materials, etc. The “allocated charges” on that page generally includes the building maintenance and utilities expense that you asked about (again, it’s tracked by type of expense and is not easily available by location.)
“On page 8 of our report we show library FTE by location and function, but did not calculate the salary/benefits cost for each. Because of the way information is kept (see above), that information is not easily available.”
Posted by number cruncher, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 10:14 am
"Your number crunching posts show me that you have not read the studies, nor do you understand their methodology."
Sorry to disappoint you, but I have read the studies and spent a lot of time understanding their methodology. All the studies measure benefit and cost as a total based on current use. I do not dispute their findings (although not including depreciation in the capital costs seems a bit odd). I do find fault with your extrapolation that any increase in spending will be result in a commensurate increase in benefits. The studies I looked at (Illinois and St. Louis) specifically do not show that or even attempt to show that. In fact, the St. Louis study separated out which types of spending yielded the best return. Not all dollars spent are the same, which makes sense.
Look, I am a big supporter of the libraries and it pains me to see these sorts of arguments thrown about since it really hurts the credibility of the pro-library bond side. Do our libraries need significant capital improvements? Most certainly and I, for one, am willing to help pay for it. But I also recognize that not everyone feels the same way. That's why we are voting on it.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 10:53 am
Thanks to those who are clarifying the numbers.
On the recent polling call we received, they asked specifically about whether you'd support a bond if the Downtown branch were not included. It wasn't clear whether that meant no capital upgrades or being shut down altogether. But it is clear the city knows that many will not support a bond that keeps all the irrational and expensive branches going, especially if it sinks more money into the dinosaur.
Ultimately I expect the branches will close, expect perhaps the current "main" (the north side must be served). But we need to keep the pressure on the city to do the right thing. If the bond does not explicitly address closing branches, the sensible thing to do is vote NO, even if you support libraries - so the city can then stand up to the branches-at-all-costs supporters.
Posted by surveys, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 12:54 pm
"But it is clear the city knows that many will not support a bond that keeps all the irrational and expensive branches going, especially if it sinks more money into the dinosaur."
It is most likely the other way around. The city is trying to structure to bond for broadest support. Those in favor of branch libraries are willing to vote the bond down unless there upgrades to branches on the bond measure.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 1:39 pm
Survey - you might be right, though my wife's impression was the opposite. But hard to say and I do have my pre-conceptions. My wife only reported those couple of questions to me, so I'm afraid I don't have other info. Anyone else get called?
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 1:48 pm
pat, quoting Sharon Erikson: " “Budget and cost information for the library (like the rest of the city) is traditionally kept by line item and by division (e.g. salaries, supplies) rather than by location. While this works for some types of analysis, it is less helpful for others"
That's right pat, the numbers read the way they do in the budget, because it's MORE EFFICIENT to run an organization the way they're laid out, instead of setting up a budget that a few nitpicking, naysaying citizens can tear apart and use to distort the true value of our public library.
I will remind you, again, that our city residents OVERWHELMINGLY favor the branches. You should be ashamed of spinning numbers and well-intentioned budget structures (that help managers to operate) to sell your distortions about the efficiencies of our library.
The VAST MAJORITY of Palo Altans want our public library put back into good repair, WITH branches, and with a vastly improved collection and programming array.
number cruncher says: " I do find fault with your extrapolation that any increase in spending will be result in a commensurate increase in benefits. The studies I looked at (Illinois and St. Louis) specifically do not show that or even attempt to show that. In fact, the St. Louis study separated out which types of spending yielded the best return. Not all dollars spent are the same, which makes sense."
That you find fault with the conclusions of TWENTY FIVE studies that all come to essentially the same results (i.e. that taxes for libraries pay back with positive SROI, and ROI) says something about the "outsider" and contrarian and MINORITY viewpoints of those who have weighed in on these studies.
It's almost laughable to see people in this so-called intelligent community - a community that is *constantly* demanding a never-ending course of polls, studies and what-have-you, in order to rationalize decision making - disregard the good work shown in these studies.
ANYONE who says that these studies don't prove the points they make, and that the general conclusions borne from them don't hold, is simply blowing smoke.
That there has been such an incredibly dedicated and aggressive attempt to discredit these studies (as you try to do) tells me that the studies are a real thorn in the side of anyone who is against spending in the direction of public libraries.
I will further state that it's a darned shame that we didn't have the gumption to conduct a study on our own. It would have been a LOT cheaper than the elongated process that we've currently gone through to get to this point, and we'd HAVE SOMETHING TO SHOW FOR IT, instead of the pathetically endless attempts to discredit work that has won awards and is universally recognized as groundbreaking in shedding light on how public institutions pay back certain kinds of investment.
With that said, the studies make a _general_ conclusion about library investment that neither you, or anyone else, has been able to refute with anything other than saying "I don't believe the studies". That's _bogus_! Let's see yuor countervailing data to the contrary. You don't have it, and you won't. I rest my case on the validity of what these studies show, until you and others come up with countervailing data. Put up, or shut up.
me too says "If the bond does not explicitly address closing branches, the sensible thing to do is vote NO, even if you support libraries - so the city can then stand up to the branches-at-all-costs supporters.'
You's is a PERFECT example of the wrongheadedness of the public library bond naysayers in these forums. The "branches-at-all-costs supporters", as you call them, include the VAST MAJORITY of Palo Alto voters. Go LOOK at the polling results! RECALL what happened the last time a public official suggested we close the branches. You can't be serious, unless you're living in a one-room world without connection to the outside world except for the websites you visit to rationalize your out-of-step-with-this-community's-opinions opinion.
Do you honestly believe that ANY person running for a policy position in Palo Alto would ever stand a chance of getting elected by suggesting we close down our branch system. Sir/Madam, you are _dreaming_!
This bond is going to pass. I await this event, the repair of our library system, and happily welcoming naysayers in this forum to visit when the construction and repair is completed. You will be delighted!
Posted by number cruncher, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm
"That you find fault with the conclusions of TWENTY FIVE studies that all come to essentially the same results'"
I don't find fault with their conclusions. I actually agree with them. I find fault with your misrepresentation of what those conclusions are. I suggest that you read the studies again. The St. Louis study does a very good job at explaining which types of expenditures yield what amount of benefit. If you want to argue about where to spend library monies, then these studies provide excellent guidance.
But all this really has little to do with the current situation here in Palo Alto. From what I understand, the vast majority of the bond is for capital improvements (rebuilding Mitchell Park, renovating Main, etc.). Note that the studies you point to (Illinois and St. Louis in particular), show that capital improvements have some of the least ROI out of any library spending categories (and that's not even taking depreciation into account).
"That there has been such an incredibly dedicated and aggressive attempt to discredit these studies (as you try to do) tells me that the studies are a real thorn in the side of anyone who is against spending in the direction of public libraries."
Which part of "I agree with these studies" do you not comprehend? Please look again at the studies and their conclusions.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm
Mike. I commend your enthusiasm for your project. But do your studies accurately reflect the value PA might expect from the subject Bond? Or can they be used to justify all library projects, no matter the cost?
If one has a wealthy spouse, and goes out to buy a new car, and then comes home with a $300 k Rolls, might not the wealthy spouse seriously question the wisdom of that purchase? Arguments that transportation is good, that reliability is good, that the purchase has been extensively researched, that some friends have one, that this is the 21st century.....such observations wouldn't cut it. And certainly not referring to anyone as a naysayer!
Likewise, many of us question why so much money, SO MUCH, is to be spent to "upgrade" the libraries. Can you shed any light on that question? Perhaps Diana Diamond had it right when she wrote in March: "Scale down the library proposal."
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 7:17 pm
Hi Bart, That's Bart _Simpson_, right? Say hello to your pet moose, OK?
number cruncher, You keep painting yourself into a corner. A good collection (one of the higher ROI library line items) cannot be efficiently housed and distributed in 1950's facilities.
As stated earlier, you can't see the forest for the trees. A public Library is an organizational and operational _system_; you can't separate out the parts you want. If we could do that with your home, all you'd have left is the bathroom, kitchen, and a bedroom. Think about whole systems; add a dash of operational management and organizational theory, plus the MANY intangibles that are NOT measured in those studies.
Twenty-five communities used those studies to pass physical infrastructure bonds. Are you getting the picture now?
Bill, Taking extreme examples and interjecting them as core debate points is fraught with danger, especially in debate. This library bond HAS been shaved down; it's FAR from a Rolls. In fact, if you apply simple construction inflation to Measure D (which failed), and amortize that over some 6-8 years, it's MORE than the current proposal by some 10's of millions of $$. We're getting a _great deal_ here.
I'm taking bets on how far over the minimum we'll see when the library bond passes.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 7:20 pm
btw, Diana Diamond has been consistently wrong about Palo Alto. I'd give her a .133 batting average. That's why she's publishing in the minor leagues, with little hope that she'll ever be called up. She tries hard, but some are just born Bush Leaguers.
Posted by bill, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm
Mike, thanks for the comment above re Diana Diamond. From reading her opinions for years, I had thought her wise and informed. By "minor leagues," do you mean PA? Like where you and I live and learn? Maybe you are right. Our destiny is to live in a small place. And we are all minor-leaguers together, but we see life very differently. On this thread, one or two see it one way, dozens (count them) see it another. And yet you may be the wise one. I don't know. But so far, logic seems to me to be on the other side of the fence.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 7:53 pm
Bill, Thanks for the considered comments. By "minor leagues" I mean the Palo Alto Post, not exactly the Herald Tribune, is it? Not even close to the Daily, really. It's a ad rag's ad rag, designed to make Dave Price another chunk of change. Heck, he's even cluttering up our sidewalks with his ugly blue boxes. Who needs that? What more is there to say; "Bush League" was kind.
For the record, there are really only 7-8 poster on these library threads, of substance. Most of them assume multiple identities. It's a VERY small readership, on balance.
Palo Alto - for a city its size - is a major league city, in its category. We do need to start acting more like a major league city, and lead on issues like public infrastructure, mass transport, 21st century housing solutions, and telecommunications infrastructure.
Posted by number cruncher, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 7:53 pm
"Twenty-five communities used those studies to pass physical infrastructure bonds."
They very well may have, but the ROI that the studies report are based on operating costs (see the Carnegie Mellon report for a good explanation), not return on infrastructure bond spending.
"number cruncher, You keep painting yourself into a corner."
No, it appears that you are the one backtracking. First, you claimed that library investment resulted in a profit for the city. Then it shifted to the benefits to the patrons, but you still clung to the misinterpretation that all spending yields the same results. Now you've finally separated out the difference between operating costs and infrastructure costs.
"A good collection (one of the higher ROI library line items) cannot be efficiently housed and distributed in 1950's facilities."
YES. Finally, you get it. This is the argument for the bond. It's simple, it's clear, and should be compelling.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 9:15 pm
number cruncher, " the ROI that the studies report are based on operating costs (see the Carnegie Mellon report for a good explanation), not return on infrastructure bond spending."
And how does a library operate. Hint: within a physical infrastructure. Got it?
In fact, _you_ are the one who keeps slip sliding, and separating out parts of the whole. All I've done is try to help get yuo back on track, to see the trees AND the forest. IN other words, the various components of library spending is all _connected_.
The _studies_ say, without equivocation, that "every tax dollar spent results in a positive return on investment". _You_ keep looking for ways to tease out the lowest returning line items to bolster your case against infrastructure. That's a bogus argument. From now on, when you attempt to do that, I am going to repeat this sentence, to help bring your awareness back to core issues, and the BIG picture, instead of the piecemeal issues that you so conveniently raise to serve your agenda.
number cruncher, the public library is a WHOLE thing, that totals more than the sum of its parts.
It should be noted that your sig gives you away, in that you (and a few others here) want to nitpick operating and infrastructure budgets to death (every municipality has its share of this kind of person; Palo Alto has them in spades) and decide what's "valuable". In doing so, you separate out the value of the whole, to serve a bookkeeper's vision of operations.
Public libraries pay baco positive ROI and SROI on every tax dollar spent: that's the bottom line. If you don't agree with that, please show me your data to the contrary, and stop playing games.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 9:21 pm
pat, the obfuscation and redefinition of good data is what you and number cruncher (and a few others, the usual suspects) have persistently put up in these forums about infrastructure.
There are TWENTY FIVE studies that say you're wrong; they're defensible. You have NO countervailing data, so you make insinuations about the studies, or put words in the mouth of those who write their general conclusions.
This is not only dishonest research, it's very weak fiscal diligence, and shows that you have no sound *fiscal* case to be made against the Palo Alto Library, as currently run; nor is there an operational case that you can make in the negative.
Our library, as all public libraries, make exceptional contributions to community. They pay back tax dollars with POSITIVE ROI.
We avoid maintaining their infrastructure, information collections, and patron programming at our peril. Palo Altans understand this, as they have _clearly_ shown in polls.
Posted by Mike is Right, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 9:50 pm
Mike is right of course. More investment, more ROI. We don't need more libraries - we just need to spend more on them! In fact, the bond at $70-80M is too little - since the ROI is so _clearly_ obvious (consult the TWENTY-FIVE studies), we should invest MUCH more. 69-72% of the community will vote for a $150M bond, which the 25 studies show will repay a large multiple.
Can you quote studies showing that the 25 studies are wrong? I thought not. You naysayers have no defense and are on the run! Mike is Right. The naysayers who oppose large bonds and many branches will be defeated and we will all grow rich on library investment!
“These quantifiable benefits are related to the library's direct services, and include the circulation of library collections and the use of a wide range of library services, including computers, trainings, programming, and other specialized services. The value of most of these services was estimated by determining the market cost of a comparable service or other means of acquiring the same benefit. This market value was then multiplied by the number of uses by SFPL patrons in the 2005-06 fiscal year.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm
also a naysayer, I will not do your homework for you. The Palo Alto Library published a report of _local_ construction costs for several libraries that are about to undergo construction. Palo Alto is in the middle of the pack, far from the highest per square foot.
As for what you think is "about right" for this town, perhaps you can find a lower bid for the work, at the price you think is "about right". $25,000, held by an intermediary, says you can't. I would like to buy a new car, maybe you can help.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 10:52 pm
pat "The SF Library study says exactly what all the other studies say: Libraries provide benefits to LIBRARY USERS."
Where in the quote that you presented does it say that? It doesn't. It simply concludes that users derive benefits from services.
With respect, your argument is moot. It's like saying that "not everyone benefits from public safety services" so why should everyone pay for them? You could say the same about parks, or special education. These are moot arguments, where the rubber meets the road.
In fact, the SF bond was dramatically influenced by that study, and passed with a rousing 75% _majority_. THAT is significant, and shows that San Franciscans understood that _everyone_ benefits from the public services afforded by public libraries, because they lift up the value - tangible and otherwise - of an entire community.
Posted by number cruncher, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 10:59 pm
"Public libraries pay baco positive ROI and SROI on every tax dollar spent: that's the bottom line. If you don't agree with that, please show me your data to the contrary, and stop playing games."
Sure. Check your own cited studies. The first three I looked at (you can Google them yourselves): Carnegie Mellon, Illinois, and St. Louis all calculate ROI based on operating expenses and costs for maintaining and expanding the collection, not infrastructure costs. The point of these studies is to argue against reducing library budgets or to call for more donations and funding.
I find it amazing that you don't realize that I am strongly in favor of this bond. The Palo Alto libraries are a great resource with outdated and sub-standard facilities. That's the point of the bond. If I were a little more jaded, I would think that you are actually against the bond and doing your own version of Stephen Colbert.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 11:09 pm
number cruncher, "The first three (library benefit valuation studies) I looked at (you can Google them yourselves): Carnegie Mellon, Illinois, and St. Louis all calculate ROI based on operating expenses and costs for maintaining and expanding the collection, not infrastructure costs. The point of these studies is to argue against reducing library budgets or to call for more donations and funding.
Uh, where is the collection maintained, and collected? Does that help?
btw, not even Stephen Colbert could have twisted the library studies around the way that you have. Three people involved in the very design and analysis of those studies have told me that they all agree with what I've been saying. Perhaps you should call them up. I can't understand why you're trying so hard to prove a negative; it's impossible.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 11:50 pm
Mike, are some of these folks right ? Do School Bonds continue to pay the community a positive return, no matter how big they are or what they are spent for ? That seems to be what you say 25 studies show. If so, why not make the Bond really, really huge, and get even more benefit??? Is that similar to a Ponzi scheme? I don't get your logic. At least not yet?"
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 12:31 am
Bill, With respect, your suggestion is one that takes a general principle - shown clearly in the studies under discussion - and then uses an outsized exaggeration of the general principle to make the principle look unsound.
We can do the same with housing. If a big house provides a lot of room, and makes a family happy, why not build them an even bigger home - maybe as big as the entire city.
Maybe you like a fast car. Fast cars make you happy. Why not build one that goes 1000mph. You get the picture.
When the manufacturers of Tylenol say that there's a benefit to taking 2 pills every six hours, it doesn't mean that it's a better thing to take 10 pills every six hours, because the human body, as a system, would not tolerate that. Taking Vitamin "A" supplements is another good example.
Our city is a system, so it would be unhealthy to devote all of its resources to public library services. That would bankrupt the system. However, the studies I point to clearly show that when it is agreed to spend "x" $ on library services, within the larger context of a city's entire municipal budget, the principle of positive returns on the tax dollars that support that spend tends to apply. I await good studies to the contrary, if they exist, or can be made to exist.
Posted by number cruncher, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 8:57 am
" However, the studies I point to clearly show that when it is agreed to spend "x" $ on library services, within the larger context of a city's entire municipal budget, the principle of positive returns on the tax dollars that support that spend tends to apply."
That's entirely correct, and I've never disputed that. But that has little to do with the bond money, which is, almost by definition, separate from a city's municipal budget.
Posted by money money money, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 9:23 am
Wait, Mike finally understands the concept of diminishing returns?! How can this be? Who is this new Mike and where did you come from?
Or is it the real Mike and he finally understands that when a city gets the balance right they end up with a great library system like, say, Mountain View. And, when the city gets it wrong spending twice as much as Mountain View they end up with a dilapidated spread out library system like, say, Palo Alto. You know, where 2 Tylenol for you would be good, 5 would be bad?
At last, Mike understands the fallacy of his argument. Maybe he will get back to taking a sensible 2 Tylenol (read library branches) now and we can get over this headache.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 1:25 pm
"I.e, is it a linear ROI ?"
Within the specified 5, 20, 100 million dollar range, we're probably still in the logarithmically increasing ROI range for libraries. (Kind of like a kid's Tylenol in a 300 lb wrestler.)
I've said all along that the Council is being conservative, and even timid, with the current Bond proposal. This city could easily support a $250 million library bond or more before the ROI curve started to flatten towards linearity.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 1:33 pm
number cruncher "that has little to do with the bond money, which is, almost by definition, separate from a city's municipal budget."
The bond money is for the library; it's a tax. And the studies say that tax dollars spent for public libraries result in positive ROI, and SROI.
money, nice try, but just taking two Tylenol won't help fix broken infrastructure. You need to reread my analogy, and rethink your position based on that analogy. I'm amused that you were the one touting Mt. View's superiority, until you realized that we operate 238 cumulative library hours - with all the benefits that a branch system delivers - for just under less than twice what it costs Mt. View to operate one measly location. Palo Alto is FAR more efficient in its delivery of services, and this bond, when it passes, will _increase_ those efficiencies.
Bill, within the context of our current city budget, it's been determined through much study and community polling that roughly $70-80M will do it. That's the number; work with that. It's easy; just run the $1.30-$4.60 payback range from the studies, and do the math. Pick a number in between. It's all positive ROI. Hope that helps.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 1:37 pm
Sorry folks, it looks like someone has stolen my sig. The 2nd last post - the one that starts with ""I.e, is it a linear ROI ?"", is not my doing. I guess that there are posters here that, having run out of juice in their own arguments;; after having been soundly trounced in debate, have nothing left other than personal sabotage. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 2:03 pm
money, you're confused about the FACTS as usual. It's a FACT that Palo Alto's libraries are open cumulative 238 hours. If you missed that basic FACT it is no wonder you are confused about the FACT that TWENTY FIVE studies show a positive ROI of 1.30 to 4.60 on library expenditures.
Get those FACTS straight and you'll reach the proper conclusion just as the voters will next fall.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 8:56 pm
Given that there are only 168 hours in a week, what space/time miracle allows our libraries to be open 238 hours? This makes about as much sense as the library bond returning a profit to taxpayers. Not only do we not get a profit, we pay the interest.
But, as Beecham points out, there’s the benefit of a whopping $60 income tax deduction for the “average” homeowner – if he/she itemizes.
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 6:20 am
Let's have 20 libraries so everyone can walk to their local branch. Think of the convenience! Think of the return on investment! Think of the cost! Oh, maybe not. But we could try calculating costs per person-mile from a library, as long as we're doing such interesting calculations.
Posted by money money money, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 8:56 am
I had the survey call on libraries last night! One of the reasons suggested in the call for opposing the bond measure was: "since Palo Alto has a branch system and the majority of bond money is going on Mitchell, it will unfairly benefit only a few people".
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 2:25 pm
The majority may support the Bond in the end, not because they support the branch system, but because they are tired of nothing happening and want the improvements. When libraries are closed in hot weather they are no use to anyone. How many people were disappointed after cycling in hot weather to Mitchell Park yesterday to find the library closed. It is disgusting that we can't get them fixed and the only, yes only, way to get Mitchell Park fixed is to have to put up with two branches we don't want.
This system is a pig in a poke and it looks like the only way to have a good library that is open is to have the others too. Pretty dismal really.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 5:50 pm
How uninformed does one have to be to suggest that any employee *or* patron should be exposed to 90º+F temperatures for extended periods of time? It's physically dangerous.
It's a matter of common sense, public health, personal perspective, and simple human kindness.
There's a lesson here, in that one of the strongest proponents in these forums for not upgrading libraries in this city would suggest that any employee or patron, in *any* organization, "tough it out" in such conditions.
Posted by RS, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 7:01 pm
"There's a lesson here, in that one of the strongest proponents (pat) in these forums for not upgrading libraries in this city would suggest that any employee or patron, in *any* organization, "tough it out" in such conditions."
I must have missed that. Is that in another thread?
Posted by "cumulative hours", a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 4:31 pm
Instead of bickering about 268 "cumulative" hours vs. 62 actual hours we ought to be looking at what those hours mean. We ought to look at sq/ft per hours open if we care about the libraries as community centers/day care. We ought to look at average distance from service targets (home or work) city population vs. hours open if we are looking for green-ness. And we ought to look at unique titles available for checkout/hour if we want to look at effectiveness as a library.
The significance of "cumulative" hours as a thing in itself is just not clear.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 5:57 pm
Holidays are scheduled, days due to weather happen without warning.
You can drop off books on hot/closed days, but you can't pick up books and these books may be important for a homework project or reading for a deadline at work or school. Many of our schoolchildren do not have computers at home and some may not have internet or printers. Also, when our home computer/internet/printer is out of action (and that happens to us all sometime) the library is the first place to go as an alternative.
If you can't depend on your library being open when it says it will, it is a sorry state of affairs. You will have to add the "I didn't do my homework because the library was closed" excuse to the dog ate my homework list.
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 8:20 pm
Mike makes no more sense than having 5 libraries, two of which are poorly utilized. Downtown residents ought to take a 15-minute walk to the beautiful, big Menlo Park library. What kind of energy savings result from PA residents paying for five A/C systems?
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 10:31 pm
libraryfan, "Downtown residents ought to take a 15-minute walk to the beautiful, big Menlo Park library"
Why should they, when they can do a 3-minute walk to the DT library?
Cumulative, Some facts.
Millions of people in 25 cities across America trust their library valuation study results. You are relatively alone in your opinion about the studies.
All PA branch libraries have access to the entire database. I can even order a book and have it delivered to within a few minutes of my house. In fact, I can oder up lots of things from my local library, and use a lot of its services, EVEN when the library is closed.
When only one library is open, I have access to the entire system. When all libraries are closed, I have a ccess to the entire system.
There are 5 branches within walking distance of 10's of thousands of Palo Altans.
It sure would be nice if naysayers had accurate information to present
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 7:21 am
Not sure how the number of residents in Menlo Park relates to the PA library system except that a much smaller population has a MUCH better library, and with a free wireless network. So, please answer, just how many people live within a 3-minute walk of Downtown Library. And what percent of the PA population would that be?
Posted by Make-A-Management-Decision, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 8:57 am
> you can't pick up books and these books may be important
> for a homework project or reading for a deadline at
> work or school.
Let's think about this for a bit. School is generally open from September to early June. How many actual hot days are there during these months? My bet is that there have been ZERO days hot in those months.
The schools have a larger library system than Palo Alto. There are at least as many books in the school system as in the Palo Alto system--all of which are geared towards the schools' needs. The City Libraries should never be depended upon by the Schools--given the large number of students and the immense amount of money available to the schools to spend.
Additionally, the PAUSD now has fairly extensive on-line resources, which the PAUSD students should be using. The Palo Alto library system also has a fair number of on-line resources too. The Santa Clara County Library System also has a fair number of on-line resources also.
There are also libraries in Menlo Park, Los Altos and Mountain View--none of which are really all that far away.
And then there are between 1-2M books on-line in any number of on-line archives/repositories. Most of these are free. There are also a growing number of "print-on-demand" offerings, which would allow a student to print a book at a local copy shop.
It really doesn't take long for a thinking person to see through this kind of non-logic and dismiss this sort of argument as without substance.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 10:32 am
You obviously do not have a child in elementary schools. The elementary school libraries do not have very much of the services you quote. And, when class projects on say native americans or the gold rush or the missions are due, the first thing the teachers tell the students to do is go to PA library to get information.
Secondly, our schools go back mid August, not early September and as you know, August/September/October can have the hottest spells of the year for a few days, as can May and early June. May in particular is a crazy time in school with many projects due and we do get heatwaves in May.
You sound like the atypical American who likes to borrow money rather than save and then buy. I am reminded of this whenever I go to a car dealership when I want to buy a car for cash and they do their best to get me to take out a loan. They try telling me that a loan is good value and I would be better spending my saved cash at the Mall than buying the car I saved up for so that I can take out their wonderful deal.
The point is, the bond will probably pass, not because people want the five branches, but because this is the only way we get the service updated to anything like efficient. The system at present is archaeic. If I look at the catalog on line from home before going to the library, I see that there are five copies in the system but the only one available for me to check out today is at the branch farthest away from my home. So that means that I have to get in my car and drive to whichever part of town, probably inconvenient to my errand run, to get the book I want today or wait for another day or two if I order it at my nearest branch. I don't call that service.
If we had one branch and five copies, the one that was available would be at the library I use all the time and probably close to my errand run as that is what I am used to. Your idea of walking to my closest library is only if I wait til what I order is there or if I go to peruse the shelves.
We want decent libraries, and are fed up with the wait. That is why we have to be lumbered with the branch system, because of people like Mike making sure that their pet project is included in any major overhaul.
Posted by A Boomer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm
I think I have it correct that the measure proposed largely is for the Mitchell and Main libraries, with a small amount of the total for Downtown. College Terrace and Children's already have had their improvements funded, and are not part of what is proposed.
That means that the argument about if we have a branch system or not already has been decided. We will have a branch system. The only real question is whether the two key "branches" Mitchell and Main, will operate as is or get a significant upgrade after being in operation for the last many years.
I think we need to shift the discussion here to what really is proposed. What are opinions around where the money is targeted to go--Mitchell and Main?
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 3:13 pm
I think "only" 4 million dollars are to be spent on renovating Downtown Library. Of course, there are the follow-on costs of staffing it and that's a lot of money, especially spread over the life of the bond. Whether or not we continue to have a branch library system is NOT decided. Let's see what voters decide to pay for come November.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm
make-a-management-decision says "The schools have a larger library system than Palo Alto. There are at least as many books in the school system as in the Palo Alto system--all of which are geared towards the schools' needs. The City Libraries should never be depended upon by the Schools--given the large number of students and the immense amount of money available to the schools to spend."
First, this information is completely inaccurate. The Palo Alto Library has far more books and media than the PAUSD system. It is also far more varied, and updated. Two years ago, a mere 200 books were borrowed for the *entire year* from Paly. K-12 libraries are exceptionally challenged by shortcomings in state funding, which means that innovative and cooperative programs between local libraries and school systems can increase community value, and taxpayer payback.
Parent says "The system at present is archaeic. If I look at the catalog on line from home before going to the library, I see that there are five copies in the system but the only one available for me to check out today is at the branch farthest away from my home. So that means that I have to get in my car and drive to whichever part of town, probably inconvenient to my errand run, to get the book I want today or wait for another day or two if I order it at my nearest branch. I don't call that service."
Parent, how many free services do you know of that will get a book of your choice delivered, for free, to a location you are very likely to be able to walk to? And you don't call that "service". Also, central libraries are subject to a phenomenon called "the tragedy of the commons", where *everyone* goes to that one location, and overuses that location to the extent that resources that would be available in distributed locations are not available. Many university and single-branch library systems suffer from this syndrome.
pat, the request was within "15 minutes" walking distance. Consider how many residents of Palo Alto's population live downtown, in Evergreen Park, College Terrace, Southgate, near Mitchell Park, and so on.
Easily half of PA's population - and probably more - lives within a 15 minute walk from a library, not to mention the added advantages of after-school access for many more thousands of kids who would otherwise have nowhere to go after school, or use the libraries in the evening.
Last, Palo Altans HAVE already decided that they want a branch library system. They have said so in polls - by a huge majorities. They will say so again, in November.
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 3:47 pm
PA residents were polled about what they WANT in a library system, but not what they are willing to PAY for. It's not just about paying for renovations, it's about paying long-term to staff 5 libraries. Staffing amounts to over 3/4 of the cost of running the libraries. For those who haven't driven the 10 minutes south to Mountain View to visit that beautiful library, take a field trip and consider what we're missing. And pick up a library card while you're there.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm
I for one do not live within a 15 minute walk to a library, call it 30 minutes and I might make it. However, I have been going to the Little League Ball Park most week days for the past couple of months and Mitchell Park serves me well as I can walk from there. But, if I decide to go to the library to check out my book, I want it to be there today not two days from someother location. If we had better, bigger facilities, the book would be there anyway and would not have to be delivered for free from anywhere. I don't call it value for service if books have to be taken from one small branch to another to serve the populations requests. It would make more sense to have all the books needed at a central location.
Take a local supermarket for instance. Say I wanted a particular brand of wholewheat bread. I would expect to find it at my neighborhood el cheapo supermarket any day I wanted to buy it. If I had to order it two days before I wanted it and just one loaf arrived at that branch with my name on it because I wanted it, that would not be very helpful. What would happen if I decided that my requirements changed and I would like two loaves that day instead of one. Or what would happen if some other shopper saw my loaf set aside and decided that they also liked that brand and could they also have one, but were told "no, you must order it two days ahead if you want it". Supermarkets know how to get the goods shoppers want into the shelves without having to order ahead of time. They do not want to make special service deliveries to any one branch because of the expense. In fact, they find it more financially profitable to have goods on the shelves go by their sellby date in case someone wanted them rather than have to make special deliveries to one Now I may like it that my supermarket did specialised service runs just for me to have my brand on the shelves when I go shopping, but I can't expect them to value my custom so much that they do it for me. It doesn't make financial sense for them and it doesn't make financial sense for a library either. I have no idea how much it must cost to the libraries to keep carrying books around the branches in both employee time and gas and maintenance of library vehicles. But, if you could do away with having to do all that moving around of books then I am sure some money is being saved.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 4:22 pm
Parent, what happens is you walk to your central library and all copies of the book have been borrowed? You stand a much better chance of getting a book in a branch system.
What I suggest you do is review some of the other library forums, to see how many different kinds of value branch libraries provide. btw, most of the stuff in supermarkets is junk, stay on the outer perimeter of the store if you want to save your health.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 5:07 pm
Here you go. Hard cash says that 10's of thousands (that's 20 thousand, minimum) live within a 15 minute walk of a Palo Alto library. Downtown's densities are very high, so are CT/Evergreen Park/Cal Ave/Southgate; MItchell Park. Main is in an area of lower density.
Also, if we include DAYTIME worker access to public libraries AND student access to public libraries - the number climbs, dramatically.
Posted by Make-A-Management-Decision, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm
First, this information is completely inaccurate. The Palo Alto Library has far more books and media than the PAUSD system. It is also far more varied, and updated. Two years ago, a mere 200 books were borrowed for the *entire year* from Paly. K-12 libraries are exceptionally challenged by shortcomings in state funding, which means that innovative and cooperative programs between local libraries and school systems can increase community value, and taxpayer payback.
Well .. let's try to answer this a bit at a time.
> First, this information is completely inaccurate
The PAUSD reports basic information about its libraries to the State Department of Education--which in turn posts this data on its web-site:
It you take the time to dig through all of this information, you will find that the PAUSD has reported to the state that it has between: 247,500 books and 288,984 books. Splitting the difference, that comes to about 270,000 books.
The Palo Alto City Library (PACL) reports somewhere around 250,000 holdings. It has been as many as 270,000 in recent years, but the Library has decided to get rid of a lot of material (particulary unused reference material that now can be found on the web, so the books count is a little lower than a few years ago. PACL also does not catalog its paperback books, so the book count that it publishes is a little low.)
Since the source of the book counts for both the PASUD and PACL have been provided, for you to claim that this information is inaccurate means that you have knowledge that there is misreporting on the part of the PASUD and/or PACL. Can you please cite your sources for your claims of misreporting of one/both of these agencies?
Since 270,000 PAUSD books is about the same as 250-260,000 PACL holdings, then the claim that the PAUSD library system is about the same in terms of holdings is restated.
Oh, by the way, the PAUSD has about 85,000 square feet of space, as opposed to about 50,000 (or so) in the PACL system--so it is physically larger.
> Two years ago, a mere 200 books were borrowed for the
> *entire year* from Paly
Citing sources, such as an on-line circulation report, would be the only way that anyone could possibly believe this claim. Palo Alto High School has about 1,700 students and about 24,000 books. To claim that for an entire school year that only 200 books were checked out means that no one is using the library, and that the salary and benefits paid to the school libraries (most full time librarians are making about $100,000 take-home) were totally wasted.
This claim has to be dismissed as totally unbelievable.
> K-12 libraries are exceptionally challenged by shortcomings
> in state funding
The PAUSD is a Basic Aid School District, meaning that State Aid is minimal. The 2007-08 PAUSD "All Funds" budget is about $161M. There is enough money to purchase a few more books, should that be seen as necessary.
As to the claim about "challenged by shortcomings" --care to cite your sources?
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 5:15 pm
Parent says "I have no idea how much it must cost to the libraries to keep carrying books around the branches in both employee time and gas and maintenance of library vehicles. But, if you could do away with having to do all that moving around of books then I am sure some money is being saved."
Parent, if you eliminate the branches, you eliminate their ROI advantages to citizens, so any saving on moving books around is more than offset by loss of branch benefits
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 5:28 pm
The libraries cost the same regardless of how many books are checked out. To say that the more books checked out the cheaper the service works out is irrelevant. The library service is a service to all in the community. We all pay for it out of our taxes whether we use it or not. The cost of me checking out one book per year or me checking out 365 books a year makes no difference to what I pay or what the library service costs.
We are not talking about loaves of bread in the supermarket. We are talking about whether a book is sitting on a shelf in a library or at someone's home being read. It doesn't matter. The library has paid for the book once. After that whether it is read of not is irrelevant.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 5:36 pm
MAMD, "It you take the time to dig through all of this information, you will find that the PAUSD has reported to the state that it has between: 247,500 books and 288,984 books. Splitting the difference, that comes to about 270,000 books."
Most of those books are textbooks, developmental reading materials, and so on. It's almost _laughable_ to suggest that a K-12 library system, *especially* in California can even THINK of coming close to providing a library experience as comprehensive as a public library. You don't include digital media. You don't include subscription-based media; you don't include historical documents; you don't include hours of operation; you don't include after-school walkability events; yuo don't include homework help; yuo don't include coordinated PAUSD/Library/Rec programs; you don't include PAUSD/senior mentoring in the libraries; you don't include *anything*, but a _wanting_ number, that you want to generalize into your own fantastical version of library reality (like other naysayers here, whose anti-library and anti-library-bond arguments are shrinking like raisins in the sun, due to lack of logical and substantive robustness).
Perhaps you should complete your research (I've done mine) and go ask what circulation numbers are for our pathetically underfunded PUASD libraries, and further ask why when funding was very thin for PAUSD some 3-5 years ago, the school librarians were among the first to be laid off. I await your travels to PAUSD, to confirm my findings.
Sir/Madam, I can only conclude, that like so many other library naysayers in these forums (in opposition to the MAJORITY of Palo Altans), you appear to have a penchant for separating out specific number variants from the WHOLE, in order to support your insufficient conclusions. It's not going to work.
Also, please refute the data present in 25 municipal studies that concludes that the library you are so willing to say delivers no benefit actually PAYS BACK A PROFIT to th Palo Alto taxpayers.
Further, to your uninformed statement about school librarians, most K-12 librarians are there to assist students in their search for information, and are integral in much lesson planning across the curriculum. K-12 libraries are notoriously lower in circulation to public libraries, per population, because of that.
As for citing sources, I would simply point you to the many polls that _unquestionably_ state that the VAST MAJORITY OF PALO ALTANS SUPPORT OUR LIBRARY, AND THE BRANCH SYSTEM.
I fully expect that that support will be re-iterated in November, and there's not a darned thing that you will be able to do about that, except to pay your tax bill, and enjoy the benefits derived therein, in spite of your opposition. I hope the prospect of doing that doesn't trouble you too much. If it does, there are many books available in the public library that explain ROI and SROI, as well as how to reduce the stress of disappointment.
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 7:05 pm
Ah, the 25 studies that supposedly show that dollars grow with added branches -- alchemy, perhaps? The real PA branch libraries, however, are in Menlo Park, Los Altos, and Mountain View -- each just a short drive away. Or, in the case of Menlo Park, just a pleasant walk from downtown PA. We'll just have to wait and see if Palo Altans want to pay (and continue to pay) for an inefficient, costly library system.
Posted by Make-A-Management-Decision, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 7:10 pm
Some Yahoooo wrote:
> Most of those books are textbooks, developmental reading
> materials, and so on.
Duu ya think? It is a school library system.
> It's almost _laughable_ to suggest that a K-12 library system,
> *especially* in California can even THINK of coming close to
> providing a library experience as comprehensive as a public
Care to cite your sources? California is spending over $60B on public education this year--not an insignificant amount of money.
This was stated and this guy "went off" claiming that this is "inaccurate" information. Data has been provided from both State and City sources. Yet--all we get in response are a lot of words ..
The following items tend to get a little rambly .. in response to the claim that the PAUSD system is physically larger, the library attendants are paid more than the PACL people, and that the PAUSD system has actually more books, an on-line catalog system which is the exact equal of the PACL system, as well as a number of on-line re3ference sources available to students:
> You don't include digital media. You don't include
> subscription-based media;
> you don't include historical documents; you don't include
> hours of operation;
> you don't include after-school walkability events; yuo don't
> include homework help;
> yuo don't include coordinated PAUSD/Library/Rec programs;
> you don't include PAUSD/senior mentoring in the libraries; you
> don't include *anything*, but a _wanting_ number, that you want
> to generalize into your own fantastical version of library reality
> (like other naysayers here,
He sort of tries to tie up his rant with:
> whose anti-library and anti-library-bond arguments are
> shrinking like raisins in
> the sun, due to lack of logical and substantive robustness).
We are expressing our opinions as is our right--as Americans.
(This guy spends most of his time screaming at people on this thread as one might image the "black shirts" or "brown shirts" screamed at the general populations in Germany and Italy in the mid-1930s. Kind of scary, actually.)
> Perhaps you should complete your research (I've done mine) and
> go ask what circulation numbers are for our pathetically
> underfunded PUASD
> libraries, and further ask why when funding was very thin for PAUSD
> some 3-5 years ago, the school librarians were among the first to be
> laid off. I await your travels to PAUSD, to confirm my findings.
Virtually all of the librarians are making $100,000 a year (or are being paid at the $100k/year rate.) With benefits added in, the cost per employee is about $130-$140K per year (and that is a 186 day year).
There are 17 branches of this library system--with capital costs invested in these branches worth possibly $100M.
The $3+M a year in salaries/benefits, and the large capital investment in facilities themselves is hardly an example of underfunding--particularly for a library system that is open less than 6 hours a day (some days) for 180 days a year.
Well .. as usual .. this guy has taken up a lot of people's time .. but said nothing of value.
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 7:12 am
I would appreciate having some real facts and figures -- e.g. how many people live within 0.5 mile of each of the 5 libraries. I'd also be interested to know how many books are checked out by PA residents at Downtown & College Terrace libraries compared with Mountain View, Los Altos, and Menlo Park.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 7:21 am
From the 2006 Annual Report (on the city web site). These are all items checked out (book and other). Children's shut down during the year, so their numbers are somewhat lower than normal (about half vs. the previous year). So CT and Downtown together are about 10% of circulation.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:30 am
Los Altos is part of the (very well run) Santa Clara County library system. LA and LAH (I believe) created a special tax district to fund additional hours in the Los Altos branches. I have not been able to find a good way to compare the budget at LA against PA, though it would be interesting, since the LA, while really not very fancy, is head and shoulders above the PA libraries.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 11:11 am
Me Too says "since the LA, while really not very fancy, is head and shoulders above the PA libraries."
Who says? Where are the Los Altos Branches? What part of Los Altos circulation is due to Palo Altans borrowing? Don't forget, Los Altos is *practically* a Palo Alto branch, with heavy exposure to the entire southern part of Palo Alto, and close proximity to Gunn. Los Altos has had *investments* made in its infrastructure; Palo Alto hasn't.
So, here we go again, a library bond naysayer, picking out a few numbers, and trying to build a general case on a house of cards.
It's pretty pathetic to be comparing the capital costs of a *single*, *small* county library - a library that experiences a LOT of circulation from Palo Altans, **because naysayers kept the Palo Alto library from repairing itself in 2002, when they, as a minority, defeated the majority wish in Palo Alto to pass Measure D (another, cheaper bond).
So, we have the VERY SAME people, the usual suspects, who kept Measure D from passing, with Measure D (at the time) FAR less expensive than the current bond (with construction inflation the major reason for the increase in cost), wanting to use the problem that THEY CAUSED (by defeating Measure D, and keeping our library from repair) to whine about the *admittedly poor condition (as shown in our library audit) of the current library, and blame the city for mismanagement.
Let's not forget that the very same naysayers here who are arguing for a defeat of the library bond, and who complain about the Palo Alto library, are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the current condition of our library, because it was THEY who were primary players in defeating (with a MINORITY VOTE) Measure D (the library bond) in 2002.
I have brought this aspect to the bond issue up MANY times. It's going to get a LOT of play as we move toward November, because the 100-or-so individuals who are fanatically opposed to spending money on libraries (even though many of them are HEAVY users of the library) are the VERY citizens who are responsible for the current state of palo Alto's libraries.
These citizens want it both ways. They want Palo Alto not to spend any money on decaying infrastructure (libraries, police buildings, schools, eetc. etc.) and when they have - as in the past - defeat the revenue building attempts to repair that infrastructure, they then follow on with how inefficiently run everything is, and "why shuold we pass a bond for blah, blah, blah".
Theirs is nothing more than fiscal hypocrisy present in their puny arguments. On the one hand they say libraries (and other infrastructure) is poorly managed and that our city is irresponsible in management, THEN they do everything they can to defeat the very revenue bonds we need to repair things. Their attempts are patently transparent, and will NO LONGER WORK. I can't WAIT to BURY this aspect of Grinchdom in Palo Alto politics, once and for all, come November.
There is a difference between measured complaints about any city's management, and the kind of extreme naysaying that this viral crowd has insinuated into Palo Alto politics, with the defeat of Measure D some years ago.
There is a kind of perverse pride taken by certain naysayers in Palo Alto, who snicker at dedicated citizens and the hard-working efforts of city employees.
Normally, the extremists that are at the center of efforts to defeat the library and school bonds are relegated to the periphery of most community's political efforts, but somehow this crowd has managed to infect our city - with the help of C-level journalism from people like Diana Diamond and Dave Price's pathetic ad rags, to generate just enough votes (in the past) to defeat what the VAST majority of Palo Altans want.
So, moving on to this November, Palo Alto citizens will use many tactics to diffuse the naysayers; we're going to bury them at the polls, and trounce them into political oblivion.
Palo Altans want their library repaired, and they want to keep their branches (which, btw, Los Altans use a LOT).
It almmost makes me laugh to think that "me too" could even begin to compare the Los Altos library to our great branch system. Hey, me too, try walking to the Los Altos branch from Downtown Palo Alto, or would you rather use your polluting car to get there? I think we all know the answer.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 11:24 am
Umm, Mike, if you just go to the LA library, you (or anyone) would see a much nicer, more spacious facility, with air conditioning, modern fixtures, lots of computers, lots of books, etc. It is just a lot nicer - nothing to do with any numbers (and none were mentioned).
I'm way in favor (like many here) of building one like that in PA. And happy to spend money to do it. Let's just close CT and Downtown (10% of circulation) and do that.
You are one strange ranter, dude. "Our great branch system" - oh my, you are a sad specimen.
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 11:32 am
I was at the Mountain View library on Friday. What a pleasure to be there. Beautiful single library. Meanwhile we have an outdated branch system that is pathetic. i plan to vote against the bond if it includes all 5 branches. We need to move past the desires of a small, vocal group of branch supporters.
Yes, Mike, i know poll after poll has said we want to maintain the branch system. Of course, depending how you word the questions you can get a poll to give you any results you want. Kind of amazing some of Mike's more vicious attacks on those that dare to oppose the library bond (i.e. "help of C-level journalism from people like Diana Diamond and Dave Price's pathetic ad rags" and "Palo Alto citizens will use many tactics to diffuse the naysayers; we're going to bury them at the polls, and trounce them into political oblivion" as some recent examples).
I wonder if he is speaking for and represents the feelings of the library bond proponents. Something to think about..
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm
me too and marvin (sounds like a couple), how cute! sounds like two more shriveled raisins whining about libraries that have been fixed up, even though ours haven't; and these are supposed to be rational voters? this is a challenged clump, that's for sure - here's two more for the bunch.
Posted by library user, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm
>I wonder if he is speaking for and represents
>the feelings of the library bond proponents.
Nah, Mike just represents the people on LAC & FOPAL. They spout out the same nonsense at council meetings. Pretty amazing really. When all city services are facing budgeting constraints, you have library supporters saying Palo Alto should dip in the council's $175,000 contingency fund for general support for libraries. They have to be reminded the contingency fund is usually needed for unexpected projects or needs that come up during the year. That's how far from reality they are.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 1:46 pm
library user would rather travel to mountain view and los altos, and force other palo altans to do the same, not a very 'raisinable' person, not at all. mike is right about these people. i bet they don't even live here!
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 1:54 pm
Anonymous--if you have any rational comments to refute my arguments then please present them. Your snide comments and general nasty tone do nothing to present a positive light on the pro-library bond cause.
Not sure if you are Mike posting under a different name or another pro-branch citizen who has nothing positive to say to prove their point so they resort to insults and derogatory comments.
Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 3:18 pm
I would like to point out that the proposed plans for the libraries allocate no funds for College Terrace or Children's library. Children's has been finished, and College Terrace improvements are coming from other sources, and that library will be completed and operate whether a bond passes or not.
The vast majority of the proposed funds will be spent at Mitchell--for a library and a new community center--and at Main. A small amount of the proposal is directed toward Downtown North, but it is a very small percentage of the total, those other three projects are "the big bet."
While one can take a point of view in favor or against downtown north branch, it seems to this writer that the energy should be focused on where the expenditures are largely focused: questions around having two large libraries, one serving the north side of town, one serving the south side of town, and an improved community center that serves many groups in the south, but also provides space and venues for numerous other activities that attracrt residents city-wide and beyond.
I hope that as people are trying to understand this matter and what way they are going to vote that they "follow the money." One's opinion around downtown north should be factored in, but I hope only after giving ample consideration to the three areas where the funds are largely directed.
Posted by library user, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm
If the bond was for: "having two large libraries, one serving the north side of town, one serving the south side of town, and an improved community center that serves many groups in the south, but also provides space and venues for numerous other activities that attract residents city-wide and beyond."
It would get my vote!
But it's not.
Voting yes for this bond is voting yes for continuing the status quo, wasting money on an outdated branch system. A branch system that is sucking up a library budget nearly twice that of the city's nearest neighbors. The inefficiencies in the branch system result in millions going to waste each year. It ain't going to stop unless something changes. In fact, with the larger library proposed for Mitchell, the yearly running cost will increase.
You work on the Parks commission, you must see the constraints the city is running under.
Yes, let's have 2 great libraries that everyone can get behind. 2 great libraries that cost less to run than Palo Alto's current branch system. Now that would be a bond measure worth supporting.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 4:39 pm
I really agree with Lib User. Paul, I think the bond is one of the few chances we'll have to stand up to the status quo. Vote yes, and we perpetuate; vote no, we have a chance to change. Otherwise, how will city find the backbone to stand up to the special interest supporters?
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 4:48 pm
take the branches out of the system and the bond will fail - "me too" and "library user" know that. they are destructive forces in our community. why listen to them? let's show some spine and pass these people by? stop listening to little voices.
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm
I would love for Palo Alto to have a beautiful, big, cost-efficient library that's open more hours than any other library in a neighboring community. More access, more materials in a single place, nice spaces for study -- wow! Instead, we're wasting resources on a failed system of distributed branches, two of which are poorly used.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:33 pm
"I would love for Palo Alto to have a beautiful, big, cost-efficient library that's open more hours than any other library in a neighboring community" too. that's what we'll have after the bond passes...and...we'll have some cool branches too
Posted by libraryfan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:42 pm
Anonymous (or are you really Mike??) -- we'll get what we pay for. People will have to decide whether they want to put their dollars into maintaining an expensive, inefficient, multi-branch library system.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 7:11 pm
palo alto's distributed branch system, serving citizens efficiently and conveniently in a way that far exceeds the efforts of competing libraries. Come to Palo Alto and walk to yuor local library or enjoy strolling to your local library for a saturday storytime or summer reading program - what a deal!