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A New Library for Hilltop?

A group of Hilltop residents and community leaders is working towards getting a new library for their neighborhood. The Tacoma Weekly reports that the group has begun meeting to brainstorm ways to provide books and literacy programming to the neighborhood. 

The value of the library for the community, organizers say, goes beyond simply providing books - it's "an essential part of the community."

Since the MLK Library closed down and was subsequently sold, the closest library for residents of the area has been the main branch downtown on Tacoma Avenue, meaning access to those essential resources is limited for kids in the community. 

The group would ideally like to see a brick-and-mortar library, run by the City, to replace the closed MLK branch, but they're also realistic about it. In light of current budget constraints, they're thinking more creatively. They're open to any solution that can get them to the goal of providing educational programming, resources, computers, and reading materials to the Hilltop community - especially the youth.

The project is still in early stages. Another meeting will be held next Wednesday, February 26, at Peace Lutheran Church at 6 p.m.

So what creative solutions are possible to bring library resources to the Hilltop community?

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I think this becomes EVEN MORE IMPORTANT as schools cut back on library funding and staffing—and, yes, they’re doing that. My kids attend Jason Lee MS ... love that school but my son’s language arts class hasn’t been to the library since October because the school has another class meeting in the library.

February 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Fred Davie

Jason Lee won’t let your son use the school library, so the city needs to build a new library? Have you tried calling the Jason Lee principal?

February 22, 2014 at 1:52 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Isn’t the main library branch five blocks from 11th and MLK - the heart of Hilltop?

February 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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It would probably cost less to increase transit service on Route 28 (11th/13th), linking Hilltop to the Main Library, than it would to build and staff a location only 5 blocks away from the Main Library.  A half time driver would probably provide enough circulator service.

February 21, 2014 at 4:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The city could build a gondola on 11th Street that stopped at Foss, Pacific Ave, Tacoma Ave, and MLK.  Crystal Mountain did an awesome shorter one for $8m.  What would a new library cost?  A library wouldn’t do as much for the city either…

It’s all a pipe-dream but fun to think about…

February 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If there were a sky tram from about Safeway on Hilltop to the waterfront on South11th, there would be no need for a branch library on Hilltop.  Just take the tram to 11th and Tacoma Ave.  sky trams are gaining popularity and are insanely inexpensive compared to rail.  If I were a narcissistic controller of the universe, I’d put streetcar on Tacoma Avenue and a tram up 11th.

February 24, 2014 at 9:37 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jennifer Boutell

Storylab has a tiny little space in the main library, always packed full of kids. This would be a great opportunity to build a real space for Storylab and expand the program, so that kids who want to work on music projects can have their own (louder) space away from kids who want to work on other things.

This city really needs more opportunities for youth who are interested in challenging themselves. I hope that any new library for the Hilltop would include a staffed technology lab with extended hours and good programming.

February 22, 2014 at 8:45 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davie

What current budget items would you cut in order to fund this “great opportunity?”

February 22, 2014 at 2:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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It would be great to see a library go into at least part of the old Rite Aid building on 11th and MLK. That thing is such an eyesore and a waste of space.

February 22, 2014 at 4:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Morgan Blackmore

@Mary. I agree with Fred. If Jason Lee isn’t utilizing their library, you (and other students and the city as a whole) are better off by advocating for better usage than trying to build a while new building and service.

@Jesse. Hilltop extends all the way to Sprague and 6th. 11th and MLK is the center of the business district, but not the neighborhood. The geographical heart of hilltop is closer to 15th and Sheridan, 12 blocks from the library. But most residents in the neighborhood would end up walking farther than that.
I love the idea of a gondola though. That would be awesome!

A library is more than a building with books, it’s a place for learning and community. It’s a place to dream. For young people it’s a place to explore and form an identity. Or at least, that’s my romantic ideal. :)  I think having one deep in residential hilltop would be an unequivocal good.

If this happened, it’d be great for a semi-private organization to manage it with some money coming from the city. Independent management could try some new ideas about programming, be flexible (and cheap) with facility, and seek money and support outside of government. It doesn’t have to be a fancy expensive- to-build-and-staff building, a converted house would work.

@Fred. If I had to cut an existing item, it’d be fire department. But that’d have to be accompanied with more restrictive rules about what types of calls they make. Fewer calls to answer for a reduced force.  I can dream can’t I?

February 27, 2014 at 8:29 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The old MLK library was not even in Hilltop.  It was at 19th and Cedar.  You can’t build libraries every 10 blocks.  The main library should serve Hilltop residents.  Where we really need on is to serve residents between Sprague to Pearl and 6th to 25th.

August 25, 2014 at 4:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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What the library needs.
First take a trip up the hill to Kobetich and you will see. Three employees playing yahoo scrabble all day long on the circulation terminals. You will not see the druggy in the back room making paper game pieces for sale on ebay. You will see one employee working their rump off on all the stuff circulated through the library. The working employee is due for a transfer and eventual harassment to the point that they will quit to avoid harassment from the gestapo supervisor, rich, who odencrantz rewards by letting her record the libraries greetings message on the phone system, designed to be as useless as possible. All this backed up by the personnel supervisor, Earl, who leads a public agency with no hostile workplace policy.
That is what the mayor of tacoma, Strickland, former library employee buys the citizens of Tacoma with their hard earned taxes.
Want more of the same, pay for another library bondoggle.

August 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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As Walgreens moves ahead with plans to purchase Rite Aid, maybe there might be corporate reevaluation of the decision to keep the old Rite Aid drugstore building at S. 12th and MLK, Jr. Way mothballed.  Walgreen executive leadership might act where Rite Aid management dithered about that building’s re-use options.  Get rid of the sundries and instead reopen a small pharmacy with basic toiletries and items shoppers seem to request (who can compete with Walmart?).  Save another corner of that building to sublet to a coffee shop to serve as a neighborhood gathering space.  Let the balance of the space serve as the Hilltop branch of the Tacoma Public Library.  It seems that Walgreens could better manage the use of that property with creative new ways of filling its spaces than to just pay a lease on what is dead space.  Tacoma could save a lot of money on building a new library branch structure.  Is corporate America going to listen?  Is the city willing to make bold proposals to help the community’s social interests and economic renewal needs.  The challenge is bringing Walgreens on board—a private firm like Walgreens could reject such city overtures but might also see opportunity on how to leverage such an asset for multiple benefits.  Maybe Walgreens could even make some money and secure tax benefits from such a deal until the lease ends and further options for more intensive development of that block could be reviewed.

February 27, 2016 at 7:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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What kind of library or resource center should be established is the overall question. I’m curious about the standard or point of reference. I understand that a private collaboration could assemble a collection of theoretical or practical subjects which may promote a particular view of reality. The same might be said for a public library.

What some of the noted comments from others are implying so far is that maybe the role of a library should be something other than a repository of literary history—a place where those who have already learned to read can visit and independently explore recorded subjects which he or she may know nothing about. 

That ideal might be a bit much to expect in certain neighborhoods of certain cities; if one accepts that a library is an essential part of a civilized society and that a library promotes the purposes of rational and virtuous citizens.

There’s an unspoken notion here of what kind of citizen this proposed library is seeking to produce. The general emphasis on the myth that America’s free public school system has produced illiterates and drop-out students who choose a life a crime—in the face of millions of students who choose to live sane and productive lives—brings to mind the question of why some people continue to advocate fundamental literacy programs within an institution designed for the literate.

True or false: America’s free public school system provides an opportunity, outside of private homes, for people to learn and develop the skill of examining a position, processing information, and reaching a conclusion. If all that’s true, then how and why do so many libraries become a tool to justify donations for the purpose of running a shelter, if not an indoctrination center, for wayward souls?

February 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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June 2, 2018 at 1:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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