Answers to a handful of questions that certainly need to be addressed.
· A purpose-built library would be able to control access to the facility outside of mall hours.
o Evening programs for teens and adults are not successful at the current Valley library, because they must start at the dinner hour and conclude early so that everyone is out of the building by 8 p.m. This means that programs such as family movie nights and evening author programs can only be held downtown or in Douglas, when the largest population lives in the Valley.
o Public meetings that last beyond the current 8 p.m. closing time for the mall cannot be held in the current facility.
· A purpose-built library would have spaces designed to serve many groups of users more effectively:
o Dedicated spaces for teen users that would allow them to socialize while using the library without disturbing others.
o Kid-scale facilities for preschoolers and elementary age children that would them to be active and move around while enjoying storytelling, music, and crafts.
o Quiet reading and study spaces for adults separate from computers, teens, and little ones.
o Meeting rooms designed to accommodate both large meetings and small study groups, to allow more bookings at times of high demand, and to incorporate audio and video teleconferencing.
o Computer activities could be placed throughout the facility, and not be constrained by inconvenient and unchangeable placement of outlets and electrical panels.
· The Valley library currently accounts for 65% of summer reading program activity and 45% of circulation of kid’s books, yet it only has room to house 33% of the system collection of juvenile books. At the very least, the Valley collections should be equal with those downtown. The Valley deserves better.
· It is true that many information resources and books are now electronic, and the library purchases many electronic resources for the Juneau public that can be accessed in the library or from home. The library is often the first place that people come to learn to use electronic resources, and it serves those who cannot afford to maintain a computer and internet connection at home.
· Books are still important as well, especially in fulfilling the library’s important role in early literacy. The library serves as the preschoolers’ door to learning and reading readiness. It also offers resources for life-long learners of all ages.
· The library fulfills an important community and civic role as well as a place where people can access online government information, apply for their PFD’s , find current legal information, and much more. It also serves as a place where people and groups can gather and exchange ideas.
· Juneau is a 25-mile-long city and we have very bad weather in the winter. In order to be used and give the best service, libraries need to be near where people live and be easily accessible to them.
· The Douglas Library is older than the Juneau library. When it joined the system at borough unification, it already served as an important hub for the community of Douglas. It continues to fill that role.
· The downtown library will continue to serve as the administrative center for the Juneau Public Libraries and provide support activities for the branches. While the new Valley library will house more activities, such as those serving children and youth, it will still be a branch library. It would have to be many times larger if it were to take on all of the collections and functions of the downtown library.
· A library on the Dimond site has been part of city plans since 1983 when voters approved a temporary sales tax measure to acquire the area for CBJ use. The library continues to be included as part of the community complex in the Dimond Park master plan. The library moved to the mall in 1983 as a temporary location until a new library could be built.
· By 2014, the city will have spent $6.7 Million in 2010 dollars on rent for the mall facility.
· The mall is expanding its office space component and other tenant base extensively.
· The library will be highly visible to all at the Dimond location. It will be a welcoming heart for Valley activities, sited directly on Riverside Drive, on the bike path and on a proposed new bus route serving the Thunder Mountain High School and Dimond complex. There will be synergies of use with the two schools and with the pool, making Dimond Park a destination for many leisure activities.
· The library will be safer to access on foot or bus at Dimond, since crossing the parking lot at the mall on foot is dangerous and the bus stop involves crossing a busy road at an uncontrolled crossing.
· The Dimond site has been the preferred site since 1983. The city and Friends of the Library briefly considered a site across Egan Expressway behind the Faith Lutheran Church, but it had problems with road access and with wetland characteristics of part of the site.
· In 2008 the Legislature authorized 50% matching grants for library construction. Ten Alaska communities have already received funding or a funding commitment from the State to build or expand their libraries. After 2013, the number of library projects in development drops off considerably. Continued funding of the grants is much less likely once the perceived need has been met. Building a new valley library now is an opportunity that may not come again for many years, or even decades.
· The Friends of the Library and the Library Endowment Board have been working toward the goal of a new valley library for many years. Both have put aside significant funding toward furnishing and equipping a new facility.
· The cost of construction of standalone public library of 21,000 gross square feet has been estimated by the CBJ Engineering Department to range between $13 M and $15.4 M, depending on inflation factors and the timing of construction.
· With state reimbursement of 50%, the local cost would be between $6.5 M and $7.5 M.
· The local contribution can include the value of the land, local fundraising, and foundation grant funding.
· The city’s contribution must be 20% of the total construction costs, but bonding is not required.
· A new library would be more energy efficient than the current Juneau and Douglas libraries. It would be more operationally efficient than the current Valley library. Preliminary operations and maintenance costs show savings over projected costs for a comparable leased facility.