A more complicated question concerns the need for a bigger building as more and more people do their reading on e-books. Parker says that while library leaders have discussed that question, to date circulation has remained steady. New library supporter and young dad Pete Baker says that he and fellow parents can't imagine bringing up their kids without the richness of the printed word. "We want large picture books," he says.
The AADL board chose a presidential year for the vote, trustee Margaret Leary emails, because "we feel the more voters who turn out, the higher the support for the bond will be." The challenge, Serras says, will be to get the "new library" message out loud and clear.
Ann Arborites love their libraries, which have won national awards and have the highest circulation in the state. But they also love their old buildings, and older users in particular may find it hard to vote for the demolition of the stalwart at Fifth and William. But while the future of the twenty-first-century library is unknown, the fate of the downtown library will be decided very soon.
[Originally published in November, 2012.]