I love libraries. And that’s why I am voting NO on the library bond . How can anyone who loves libraries vote NO on a library bond? Let me explain.
All our communities need high-tech libraries with flexible spaces. Redmond needs a new library. Bend definitely needs another library.
Building larger “central libraries” has been the trend in the past. But continued advances in technology, especially electronic meetings, books and the internet are redefining how people work, socialize and get information. It’s also redefining the role of libraries and how they provide services to the public. Large central libraries are libraries of the past that serve the library itself. What is the library of the future?
Nine years ago, the library board looked to the future and determined that an east-side library could address growth problems.
East Bend Public Library was a test to see if people would go to a smaller but local library for story times and adult programs, to browse the collection and in all other ways make it their preferred library.
We also wanted to see if it would reduce the demands for space on the Downtown Bend Public Library. Since this was a test, we leased a building, remodeled it and provided all the services of our other libraries with an eye to building a permanent larger library depending on the results. The results are outstanding!
Book circulation of East Bend is third-highest of all our libraries. More significant is that patron usage per square foot of East Bend is the highest of all libraries and twice that of Downtown Bend. People have made this local library their preferred library on the east side. The library website describes it this way: A “small and mighty library offers full services.”
Bend continues to grow, especially on the east side. Looking to the future, it is clear the time has come to build a new permanent library on the east side, the same or slightly larger than downtown but designed with developing technology and flexible spaces in mind.
However, the Deschutes Public Library Facilities Capital Plan, Final Report, Nov. 19, 2018, Page 37 states: “It is recommended that DPL relocate the services, staff, and resources of the East Bend Library to a purpose-built Central Library in Bend.” This puts the future of the East Bend Library at risk.
There are very important and necessary items in the library bond. We definitely need to remodel the La Pine, Sunriver, Sisters and downtown Bend libraries, and a new Redmond library is long overdue. Every community is growing, but are their needs being met in this bond proposal? I think not. Let’s look at the amounts of money allocated at this time for each community. La Pine, Sunriver and Sisters will receive about $2 million each. Downtown Bend will receive about $20 million. Redmond will receive about $47 million. East Bend will receive nothing. The Central Library will cost $116.5 million .
Building a new east Bend library might only cost $45 million to $50 million. A reasonable alternative to the proposed bond would be to do all the remodel/expansions and more in La Pine, Sunriver, Sisters and downtown Bend and build a new Redmond library and replace the gigantic Central Library with a new permanent library in east Bend.
And this could save taxpayers over $66 million, which is no small amount especially since we are still in a COVID-19 pandemic and facing an uncertain economic future.
I am one of the founders of our library district. I have served on the library board since its inception in 1999. I have served on the state library board. But more important, I love libraries. That’s why I’m voting NO on THIS specific library bond.
Voting NO means you love your library and tells the library board to come back with a better proposal that really serves all the people of Deschutes County now and into the future.