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Mitchell Park Library

Original post made by AnnoyedParent on Jul 26, 2006

On Monday (7/24) I went with my children to the Mitchell Park Library around 5:00pm ... to find it closed with a sign "Due to extreme heat in the building we are closing" .. ok, yes, it was hot on that day. The children were disappointed - it was their library day, but oh well - what can one do.

So, we headed to the library on Tuesday - around 4:00pm ... only to find the library closed with the same note about the building being too hot! Now - this was annoying not only to my family, but to the three other families who had come there with their children.

I respect the fact that the library staff is concerned about the health hazard due to heat - but can't the city put in an air-conditioning unit?? I am not saying get the state of the art fancy units - central air the whole building - but can't the city put in the little window type units sporadically through out the building to keep the temperature at a tolerable level?

Who is responsible for this type of work? Agreed Palo Alto was never so hot in the past, Palo Alto gets a few of these hot days during the summer - but for those who have noticed, the number of hot days is on a rise and the city needs to do something!

Comments (12)

Posted by Phil, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 26, 2006 at 11:50 am

My two year old and I went to the Mountain View library off of Castro after our second visit to a closed Mitchell Park Library.
(A nice person we encountered outside the library told us how to get there.)

It was very nice, with underground parking and was well set up for children. The man at the information booth told us that Palo Alto residents can get library cards there.


Posted by P, a resident of Ventura
on Jul 26, 2006 at 12:11 pm

I also went to the library that day, and saw the sign.
Funny thing was, when I put my books through the "return" slot, the air felt COLD to my hand!
This lead me to conclude that the library staff were having problems with more than mere heat that day? Like overuse of electrical system was causing overheating circuits and therefore problems with the computers and means of checking out books.
In any case, as a woman with a cane remarked after putting her books in the slot "Gee, it would have been nice if they had told us this with a sign down at the parking lot..."
And I think they should have explained the situation to patrons in more detail.


Posted by P, a resident of Ventura
on Jul 26, 2006 at 12:12 pm

I also went to the library that day, and saw the sign.
Funny thing was, when I put my books through the "return" slot, the air felt COLD to my hand!
This lead me to conclude that the library staff were having problems with more than mere heat that day? Like overuse of electrical system was causing overheating circuits and therefore problems with the computers and means of checking out books.
In any case, as a woman with a cane remarked after putting her books in the slot "Gee, it would have been nice if they had told us this with a sign down at the parking lot..."
And I think they should have explained the situation to patrons in more detail.


Posted by Noah, a resident of University South
on Jul 26, 2006 at 12:31 pm

Just a thought... I've been to the Main library branch on Newell many times over the past 6 months and it can get pretty hot. One fact many people haven't mentioned (in general, not specific to the library comment) is that this is a 50-100 year record heat-wave in terms of both duration and intensity. I have two ideas why they might have closed the library.

1. Perhaps it was done to conserve electricity? Many government buildings around the state voluntarily closed or severely reduced energy consumption over this heat wave. Some larger buildings also agree to pay more for energy during peak load times, so this may have also been done to cut costs. My workplace for example has turned up the temperature on the AC, turned off all of the lights, and closed all shades - and this is in a high-rise place of business.

2. Perhaps the AC could reasonably cool a closed library, with all of the lights off, doors closed 100% of the time, and computers off. However, computers, lights, people, and doors opening can severaly increase the heat in a structure. It is very possible that the building was cooler than the outside and thus felt cool, but at normal usage would have been too hot for safe use. Two co-workers have told me that their normally adequate AC just didn't cut it over the weekend.

I do support more adequate environmental controls at all libraries - but this should be accomplished in an energy and cost efficient manner. Putting in temporary window units would be fairly inefficient, consume costly amounts of energy, and not solve any long term issues. High R-value insulation along with efficient central air conditioning are probably the best way to go - but I'd leave that to the pro-s to figure out.


Posted by janie s., a resident of Escondido School
on Jul 26, 2006 at 3:08 pm

the libraries closed because the interior temperatures reached over 90 degrees-- unsafe! don't care if your hand in the slot felt cold, that was some kind of weird quirk. don't assume that librarians are slacking off-- they're hard-working and underpaid.

yes of course it would be nice to have air conditioned libraries-- considering that the city council won't fund the current status of the libraries, what makes you think they would spring even a dime to upgrade the facilities.

Aim your complaint at the city council, not at the underfunded library system.


Posted by Ray, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 26, 2006 at 4:51 pm

The biggest irony in all of this is that Mt View with just one library is able to concentrate all its resource to build a modern facility that is immune to outside weather, while Palo Alto, a city boasting several libraries, does not have enough resources to upgrade the facilities for all-weather operation.

It's high time Palo Altans seriously debate the issue of how best to run the library system here. At issue is the limited resourse available to the city that are not sufficient to support so many libraries.

The downtown and children's libraries should be axed (I think Terman branch has already been axed but should be also if not) and the money saved should be used to fortify the Main and Mitchell libraries.


Posted by Noah, a resident of University South
on Jul 26, 2006 at 9:28 pm

Hi Ray,
Best I can tell, Palo Altans just spent the better part of the past two years debating the issue and came to a firm conclusion. A majority of Palo Altans prefer having multiple walking distance libraries in our communities rather than a single main library.

I'd personally far rather have a library a short walk away that is wonderfully useful for ~ 360 days of the year than a single library available an extra couple of days that is outside of walking distance.

You mention that a single library is a best solution, but at the same time you say that we should keep two libraries. I just looked up your neighborhood and surprise surprise! All of Adobe-Meadows is within about 6 blocks of the Mitchell *BRANCH* library.

I'm pretty sick of all these people pretending we just didn't have a survey, city council election, and drive the library director out. The full set of Palo Alto communities has spoken and a strong majority wants to keep our branch system. Lucky you Ray, you live near one of the two largest *branches* with the best hours and collection.

Plain and simple, it's an obvious case of geographic discrimination. Sure - you want a *BRANCH* library in your neighborhood, but you want to close down the smaller, cheaper, open fewer hours, smaller collection branches in two other neighborhoods. Do you have any suggestions other than a massive consolidation, that your community has clearly opposed? Any suggestions at all other than closing every branch other than the two you use most?


Posted by Ray, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 26, 2006 at 11:03 pm

Noah, dear, I do not believe I said anywhere about wanting a single library. I was using Mt View's example in saying that when you have a limited resource, less can work better than more.

I don't know of any other city of Palo Alto's size with so many library branches. Palo Altans have gotten too spoiled over the years and as a result have gotten selfish as well. They don't want to give up anything even though budget shortfalls are staring right at them.

In my previous post, I suggested concentrating all avilable resources to the Main and Mitchell Park libraries. This means a library for the North and one for the South. If you can't walk to your "neighborhood" library, you can bike or you can walk to a Crosstown or Embarcadero Shuttle stop and ride free to either branch.

Let's get real. The money saved from downtown and children's library closures should help upgrade the remaining two to a comfortable level, allowing them to stay open even on the hottest days.


Posted by Roger, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 28, 2006 at 1:25 am

I heard that they closed at 2:15 pm that Friday, and that it was over 90 degrees inside. (I think it got to over 100 degrees outside, so it was probably about the same inside later that afternoon.)

I was in there when it was "only" 85 degrees, and it was horribly stuffy. I got my books and got out fast.


Posted by lily, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 28, 2006 at 6:40 am

I completely agree w/ u. U r right on!!!!!!!!!!!good job

CITY: Get cracking dont waste all your time w/ global warming.


Posted by member, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2006 at 10:18 am

It's clear that we can't afford to maintain all the small libraries in this town. How about moving the art center to Mitchel Park and, using that whole complex on Arastradero/Newell, concentrate our financial resources to build a state of the art library at that site. Forget about inadequate neighborhood libraries--our town is small enough that having one great library, WITH AIR CONDITIONING, won't be an inconvenience.It seems like some people in this town believe that their needs are more important than the greater good--"I want a library in my own neighborhood" "I want the school district to provide MY child with Mandarin instruction, full time, from kindergarten through high school" The rest of us can just suck it up and make do with the leftovers! I'm sick of it!


Posted by Ethan, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 31, 2006 at 8:42 pm

I have been working and volunteering at the Mithcell Park Library for a few years now and I have never before experienced the temperatures from last week. We had every single electric fan running and all the working windows open and still there was a ten degree difference from the outside. These are the conditions that Palo Altans and staff members must deal with because of insufficient funds. We're having five branches with only enough funding for two and a half. As a community with such high quality schools and comfortable standards of living, it's an embarassment to have our libraries in this kind of state.


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