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New library belongs on GF’s North End

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This letter is in response to the story about planning for a new library (“Questions remain on library’s future,” Page A1, Feb. 1).

There’s no doubt that a new library is needed. I also agree that remodeling the current building not only would be too expensive but also would not meet the technological requirements of the new space.

But I disagree with the Grand Forks Library Board on its list of proposed locations.

A library is first and foremost a great equalizer. It provides access to information to those who cannot otherwise take advantage of it. This core value is negated by two of the three locations outlined in the story (the Grand Cities Mall would be an acceptable compromise).

As any income distribution map clearly shows, the majority of Grand Forks’ poorer residents are located in the north. It is these residents who rely most heavily on the library for access to books, periodicals and the Internet.

Meanwhile, the average resident in the southern part of Grand Forks already has Internet access as well as the ability to access whatever resources are needed without ever leaving the home.

A library in these residents’ back yard will not dramatically improve their lives. In contrast, a library located in or near one of the under-used elementary schools on the north side would make a huge difference.

Transportation also is a major factor. Many of Grand Forks’ poorer residents rely on public transportation and/or rides; and the farther the library is from where they live, the less likely they’ll be to be able to take advantage of the library’s services.

What good is a state-of-the-art technological access point if the people who need it the most can’t reach it?

I encourage the members of the Grand Forks Library Board to refocus their attentions on why the city has a library in the first place and who is most likely to use it.

A library is not meant to be a “destination point.” Its function is much more vital than that.

Paul Cline