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Advocates for new Norman library facing questions



Many Norman residents believe the city needs a new public library, but nobody knows:
" what it will cost,
" how it will be financed or
" whether public money can be better spent elsewhere.

Built in the Sixties at W. Gray Street and N. Webster Avenue downtown, the current library has fallen victim to:
" disrepair,
" outmoded infrastructure and
" space limitations.

But, library proponents must leap several hurdles before the building is designed and a new library site is found. Like most public libraries in the country, the Norman library depends on local sources for 80 percent or more of its funding. Norman taxpayers must be convinced not only of the new library's potential benefits, but whether it will justify the cost in public money.

City officials and library staff seek an election next spring to consider the issue.

A new Norman group, Citizens for a New Norman Public Library, held its first public forum on July 1 to discuss the present library's shortcomings and the features needed in a new facility. Other meetings are scheduled 2 p.m. Aug. 26 and Oct. 14 in the City Council chambers.

"Our library is seriously overdue," said Norman Ward 5 council member Rachel Butler, who co-chairs the committee and is a librarian at Oklahoma City Community College. "The physical plant is undersized, overburdened and outdated, parking is routinely difficult and technology can't be updated in the current facility." "Randall Turk


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