Monday, August 02, 2010
I've always loved this oasis in downtown Madison
I love this place -- a bookish oasis where you can spend hours without spending dollars, where there’s no admission charge, where books are free for the borrowing and you can roam as far as your dreams will take you without ever leaving your seat. It’s the Bernard Schwab Building, the downtown branch of the Madison Public Library.
The plans to build a new downtown library as part of a larger commercial development fell through, and Mayor Dave is now backing renovating and expanding the old central library. It's a solid structure that was designed for upward expansion when it opened in the mid-Sixties, and I always thought that was the best option. As the Mayor said in his announcement, "And because we'll use the existing superstructure of the building, we are essentially recycling it. The greenest building is the one you rebuild." Yes. Glad he came around.
We're lucky that Madison still has a commitment to a strong library system, at a time when many municipalities are drastically cutting back. We also have a tradition of community involvement and participation. A series of meetings have been scheduled for public input. What would you like to see in a new downtown library in the Internet age? What should its mission be, what needs should it serve? What would you like it to look like?