Letter: Confessions of a library huggerMy secret is out. I have always had a passion for libraries — I loved them as a child, a student, a graduate researcher, a Menlo School teacher, and now (the best yet!) a grandmother.
I value libraries as the hallowed places of our culture, our democracy, places where we can find and compare books with disparate points of view and evaluate their arguments in ways beyond Amazon's "look inside" feature. The Romans built public libraries throughout the empire to preserve and sponsor learning, and as public libraries developed over centuries, they have met ever more sophisticated community needs for research, instruction, appreciation of the arts, and debate.
Now what better place for our community library than our beloved park? Centrally located, safe, beautiful — our community emblem — a place where parents can drop older kids off in the library and if they wish take younger ones to the swings. (My earliest memory of delicious freedom was being dropped at the library to wander the stacks while my mother went to survey the blander tastes of supermarket.)
Libraries need to grow and change to meet the needs of communities. Our present library facility is too outdated to do that. Our new one can become a magnet for guest speakers, community meetings, exhibits for art and history and science, forums for debate and instruction, as well as an access point for the newest information technology — and we already have the money collected to build it.
The facts in favor of Measure F speak so eloquently: The funds already collected can build a beautiful state-of-the-art library and they can only be spent on the library. We have a gorgeous location in the park, the centerpiece of our town. Given its size and location, the existing library can never become what a new library would be.
There are those who wish to "save" the park by opposing the library and keeping the park the same. I too wish to save the park, but I welcome change. The park is not an antique. Let's save the park for future generations by truly enhancing the park, building our community's library there to meet the evolving needs of our changing community.
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Posted by Library at additional cost, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Oct 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm
We currently have several open buildings in the park which could do the meetings, art and history, guest speakers, that you suggest.
"Our new one can become a magnet for guest speakers, community meetings, exhibits for art and history and science, forums for debate and instruction, as well as an access point for the newest information technology — and we already have the money collected to build it."
Why don't we test to see if these programs bring people before we turn over the open space. It maybe that people prefer to go to Keplers or any of the local schools or universities.
Do we have all the money to do it? Someone just posted we have $6M and need $8M.
Posted by Just the facts, ma'am, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm
"Library at additional cost", You are either not reading Measure F ballot language correctly or are intentionally spreading misinformation.
1. No open space can be used for the library in the park as outlined in ballot Measure F. If voters pass Measure F and open space is used to build the library, the project will be illegally built.
2. The town's former finance director publically stated, and had convincing projections to support the claim, that by the time the library is built, the fund that is reserved exclusively for library use will exceed $8 million.
Please, before you vote, know the facts. If you understand the facts, and still don't want a library in the park, vote no on Measure F.
If you understand the facts and it makes sense to you to build the library in the park, vote yes on Measure F.
It's as simple as that. Don't be deceived by spin -- on either side.
Posted by Library at Additional Cost, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2012 at 5:52 am
Measure F reads::: "Should the Town of Atherton construct a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park using funds dedicated for library purposes only, by replacing the Main House and some surrouding patios and walkways?"
It does not read "open space". The Main House is 3,800 square feet- that means more than 6,000 square feet of "surrounding patio and walkways" to build a 10,000 square foot library. Patios and walkways are considered "Open Space".
Currently there is $5M in the fund and the library needs $3M more in "Additional Funds" raised from taxes and it needs the land donated.
A twenty acre park is a great place to build anything. How do you know people will turn out for this wonderful community center? The town has had the main house and the beautiful patio that surrounds it for 50 years and the community events such as the Town Bar B Que and Day in the Park have ended.
Is staff going to be hired to put on these community events? How can the library budget pay for Atherton Community events?
With Kepler's, the Menlo Library, the Circus Club, Stanford, Sharon Heights, Menlo Park, and the numeruos schools in the area all hosting events, the ending of Atherton's Town Bar B Que and Day in the Park-Do you think there is a possibility this library could be a White Elephant that forever changes our park?
Again- Why don't we test to see if these programs bring people before we turn over the open space? It maybe that people prefer to go to Keplers or any of the local schools or universities. Use the existing facility. Most people would prefer to be outside on the 6,000 square foot "non-open space" Patio and walkway.
Posted by Library at Additional cost, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2012 at 6:18 am
Yes on Measure F - Lying or Delusion??
Atherton, posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
The just circulated mailer urging a Yes on Measure F states:
"Build Atherton's New library - No Cost to Taxpayers".
Either the supporters are deliberately lying or they are delusional to think that using money which has been collected from taxpayers is not using taxpayers' money.
I am not sure which is worse - lying or financial stupidity.
Posted by Save the park , a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm
This week Almanac:
"After throwing considerable energy and support behind a library in the park, Councilwoman McKeithen acknowledges that the opposition may prevail. "If we had a level playing field, (Measure F) would have a chance," she said. But, she added, the Save Our Parks campaign has put out false information, and that may doom the project.
"But don't take my word for it," she said. "Do your own homework. Look at the documents yourself" before deciding how to vote""
Posted by Kathy McKeithen, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm
What a pity, Peter, that you did not think also to include the many falsifications and obfuscations told by the opponents of Measure F -
.... There is, of course, no reason for everyone to think the same way; and it is unfortunate for there to have to be so much name-calling, stretching of the truth and social arm-twisting to cause people to agree. Should the word "additional" have appeared in the flyer sent out? Yes.
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Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
"Kathy McKeithen, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, 2 hours ago
What a pity, Peter, that you did not think also to include the many falsifications and obfuscations told by the opponents of Measure F "
If you are concerned about lies you should read the SAVE OUR PARK brochure."
How sad that two of our elected officials defending lying by saying that the other side is lying.
Posted by Commissario, a resident of another community, on Nov 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm
Misguided as her letter may be, I wish to praise Lenore for her elegantly written and passionate plea supporting a library in Holbrook-Palmer Park. There is no question that libraries deserve a hallowed place in our communities, however we need not look to the Ancient Romans for inspiration but rather our neighbors in Portola Valley. Portola Valley recently built a 6,500 square foot library for 2.8 million dollars. Evidently their most recent annual statistics recorded about 81,000 visits. But Atherton, despite 73,000 visits during the same period, somehow requires a library twice that size at a cost of 8 million dollars. In fact, the Portola Valley Library, integrated within the Town Center, was recently listed as an Entry of Note by the jury of the Nathaniel A. Owings Award. San Mateo County Library is so proud of this accolade that it is featured on the main page of their website: Web Link
The award jury cited "a thoughtful, restrained design involving community input and exhibiting a strong sensitivity for the natural environment." Does this sound like the decision making process in which the Library in the Park was conceived? Owings, for whom the award is named, thought structures should be built "in cooperation with nature - not against it. Non-architecture -- open spaces -- will be the objective, and the buildings will simply frame them."
Lenore, who admits to being a grandmother, remembers a time when she would be dropped off to wander throughout the library while her mother went grocery shopping. Well, times have changed. It wasn't too long ago that the Almanac reported about a man who was arrested for viewing child pornography in the Atherton Library: Web Link
And the viewing of pornography, not necessarily child pornography but pornography nevertheless, continues to this day. I once witnessed a gentleman viewing explicitly lewd photos on one of the library's computers. When I brought this to the attention of a librarian, I was told that library policy supports "intellectual freedom" and all she could do was offer the man a privacy screen! Might a library in the park attract more of this type? Isn't there some comfort knowing that the police station is right next door to the current site?
Lenore admits to being a "library hugger" and favors building a state-of-the-art library in "our gorgeous location in the park." This library will certainly be constructed using cement, steel, glass and other inanimate materials. I prefer to hug trees, plants and most of the other living, breathing objects that nature has blessed us with. There is no need to destroy a large portion of the limited natural open public space that exists in Atherton. A beautiful new library can be built on its existing site and merged into an architecturally pleasing and conveniently located town center, as has been done in Portola Valley. Just because there is 8 million dollars burning a hole in an insular group's pocket doesn't mean that it has to be wasted on a monolith that will permanently alter the ambience of Atherton's only park and besmirch the legacy of Olive Holbrook-Palmer.