Although the library has been expanded twice, in the 1970s and the 1990s, advocates say it needs larger children's and youth areas and a bigger meeting room. The new building would be almost 50 percent larger, with amenities that include what the library's website calls a "grand, quiet reading room," a privately run cafe, and a media production lab. But it's the planned 400-seat auditorium that has been most controversial--and helped launch an opposition group.
"Protect Our Libraries" held its first meeting in September, at the home of former school board member Kathy Griswold. Griswold says that, like Serras's group, opponents will be putting up yard signs and maintaining an online presence as the vote nears.
No one disputes that the downtown library is a very busy place: it tallied some 600,000 visits last year. In the last decade the number of library events listed in the Observer's calendar has doubled; during just two weeks in September, it hosted seven evening talks and presentations, two Saturday art workshops, a documentary movie, a kickoff celebration for a Kerrytown BookFest exhibit, and a "crown-making" workshop for kids.