Tulsa library bond issue election next Tuesday

Wednesday, December 8th 2004, 10:12 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa City-County Library is hoping to start a new chapter, but will this story have a happy ending?

Next Tuesday, voters will decide whether to approve a $79-million bond package that would build a new central library, along with 3 new branches.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says college student Beth Murphy uses the library often. She likes it but would like a new one even more. "I think it obviously could use some renovation maybe, looks kind of old."

And while the library is showing its age, Linda Safewrite with the library says they can't show you all their books. "Materials are unable to be shelved out where the public can use them. We have about a fourth of our collection down in the basement and inaccessible to the public."

Not only is there not enough room for books, there's not enough room for people. The Aaronson auditorium holds about 200; they say they have events that draw 500 or more. This is what they hope is the next chapter in the library's history. A grand Central Library at 11th and Denver.

A 200,000 square foot building with a larger auditorium, a larger children's space and many other amenities. Parking, always a problem at the current library, would be solved with a 600-space parking garage and easy highway access.

The package would cost the owner of a $90,000 house about $24 a year. They believe the support is there. Linda Safewrite: "We have over 330,000 library card holders. Last year alone, we broke all records with 45,000 children and teens in summer reading programs. So we touch a lot of lives with our services."

The voters will decide how the story ends next Tuesday. The bond package would also build new branch libraries at LaFortune Park, in Broken Arrow and in Sperry.