In light of the recent announcement that the Library Working Group was unable to agree on any plan for library services, it appears that cooperative library service between the city of Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Rural Library District is a dead issue. How sad for all of us.
Few people differentiate between city and county when asked where they live -- the response is, "I live in Walla Walla." After all, we shop in the same stores, eat in the same restaurants, attend the same schools and churches and enjoy our recreational facilities together. We are one community, city and suburb.
The Rural Library District's plan to build a "central library" at a cost of $3.66 million somewhere in the suburban area of Walla Walla makes an unnecessary division between city and county residents.
City residents would not be able to use RLD facilities and suburban Walla Walla residents would be denied access to the Walla Walla Public Library, which has always served them. Instead of working together to enhance one great library system, building a second facility will create two stand-alone library systems, with substantial duplication of costs and services, thus wasting taxpayer money.
The RLD has stated that there is no plan to have a service agreement with the city of Walla Walla after 2012. Lack of a service contract with the Rural Library District will result in a reduced level of service for the Walla Walla Public Library.
Is it actually in the best interest of library service for all to undermine the stability of the WWPL? This would also result in suburban residents being limited, beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, to the Plaza Library, a storefront facility, for service until such time as a new library is completed. How can this be construed as adequate service for suburban residents?
The Rural Library District has a Capital Reserve fund of over $3.1 million. I believe there are better ways for the RLD to spend this money than on a second library building ($3.66 million). They also have plans to improve library buildings in outlying communities, Touchet, Burbank and Prescott, specifically.
Instead of having to borrow money to complete all these projects (total cost $5.4 million), let them use the existing capital reserve fund to improve the outlying areas and find other ways to work with the Walla Walla Public Library for the benefit of our community.