News that the Great Bend Public Library was spending more than $762,012.92 on a geothermal heating and air conditioning system shocked the city council members, who wrote the check earlier this month. It was probably out of frustration that city councilman Dana Dawson asked whether the library will even be needed in the future.
“It will turn into a museum of old books,” he reportedly said.
That prompted one Public Forum letter in the Great Bend Tribune from an individual who gave a long list of services the library provides, for free. And Library Director Harry Willems told the council, “libraries are here to stay.”
Dawson clarified his position by saying, “I don’t want to see the library close. I just think it could be managed better.”
Councilwoman Allene Owens agreed that the library is important to the community but also said there needs to be better communication before something like this happens again.
The price of this project is high, and Willems told the city council that the 40-year-old building actually needs more work. However, the expense might have received about as much attention as the book “Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush?” by Jerry Spinelli. That is, not much. That changed when the original plan for paying for it fell through, and the library board was faced with “borrowing” the money from the city’s cash reserves at 2 percent interest or finding a more costly alternative.
The costly new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system may or may not have been the best choice. Such systems are reportedly better for the environment, quieter and easier to maintain. Willems told the Tribune last September that it will also provide more even heating and cooling in the building. He also put price tag closer to $450,000 back in September.
Perhaps the next big improvement under consideration should be less of a surprise. Leave the suspense, mystery and horror to novelists such as Elmore Leonard, Gillian Flynn and Stephen King.