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Your Voice Can Help Shape Library's Future

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Laurel R. Champion, Publisher;  Ed Petykiewicz, Editor;  Mary Morgan, Opinion Editor.

Your voice can help shape library's future

Weigh in at upcoming public meetings

How do you envision the future of Ann Arbor’s downtown library?

It’s a question that executives and board members for the Ann Arbor District Library have been asking for years, and one that local taxpayers - who fund the library - should be thinking about, too.

There’s been an interesting back-and-forth about the issue in our opinion section recently, reflecting two very different views on the role of a library. A letter by long-time Ann Arborite Dale Leslie, published on May 21, describes the growing, seemingly ubiquitous use of computers in homes, schools and businesses. “Friends,” he wrote, “I shudder in this context when I think about the millions of dollars consumed by our public library system, especially locally in building new, large neighborhood libraries and with plans going forward to expand the main library downtown."

Other readers came to the library’s defense.

In a letter published Sunday, Irma Zaid of Ann Arbor described the wide range of activities and events offered at local libraries. What's more, she wrote, "Not everybody owns a computer, but everybody is able to have access to one at the library."

Today, Ann Arbor resident Marnie Leavitt also weighs in to support library services, noting that "books and computers do not cancel each other out."

With millions of taxpayer dollars at stake, these are relevant, important questions to raise and address.

Plans for either renovating or rebuilding the downtown library are well under way. Library officials have hired well-respected Luckenbach/Ziegelman Architects of Ann Arbor, a firm that also designed the Malletts Creek and Pittsfield branches to work on options.

Earlier this year, Carl Luckenbach told The News that a library should be like a community living room, a comfortable place that people gravitate to when they aren't at home or work. In addition to its traditional lending services, which include a range of multimedia items, the library is also a meeting place, and that role will no doubt be incorporated into the new design.

Though library officials met with about 100 people in focus groups last year, they're holding sessions this week to garner more public input.

What's your vision for the library's future? Now's the time to voice your views.

You're invited

What: An opportunity to review and discuss the Ann Arbor District Library's renovation and expansion plans for the downtown site.

When: Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon and Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.

Where: Library's multipurpose room, 343 S. Fifth Ave.

More info: Call 734-327-4560 or check the library's Web site at (click on "About Us" to find contact information for library board members).