Libraries and Public Space - How Should They Manage It?
AIR DATE: April 23, 2012
The Clark County Library System is hurting financially. The library trustees have to adjust rental rates for some of their open space like the theater in the Summerlin library to make up lost revenue. That has some local groups upset, saying that the rate increases are too high. How do public libraries use their public space? Should libraries just take the loss as long as they provide the space for the community?
Why is no one seeing the point here. We are taking away culture and arts from our community. What about education? We can teach so much through the arts. I am the director of the Broadway Bound program and with this rate increase, we are shutting out the children of the community who use theater and the arts as an outlet. Isn't that what a libaray should be about?...education? No one is saying that an increase in rates isn't valid. All we are asking for is something more reasonable. I urge the library district to work with their community and loyal renters of thier performing arts spaces and not increase the rental fees to the degree they have been raised to. A seven times increase is absolutly ridiculous. Has the library board even considered working with their community and renters? There has to be some way to work this out to accomodate all those involved.Michael –Apr 25, 2012 01:41:22 AM
Just a thought here....if the community truly needs access to meeting room and/theatre faciities, has anyone considered petitioning the City and/or County to build a Public Arts Center for those purposes? Lynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 18, 2012 21:51:05 PM
Ms Dahl, it seems that you miss the point...The performing arts centers have ALREADY been built with tax dollars as part of the library system. Should they be left empty? Why were they built in the first place? Obviously someone felt they were an asset to the community, or they would not be there now. And contrary to your comments, there are parts of this community that do support the performing arts, as is evidenced by the number of patrons that have supported these production companies over the years. You refer to "Ms. Riedy's group" and ignore all of the other organizations that are impacted by this change. In the end, it is not about any specific production group, but really about the impact on the community. And, the last time I checked, libraries were a community service, NOT a business. I am not being naive here, since I understand that community services have a budget that they must adhere to. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the library districts budget is impacted by the performing arts centers. It would also be interesting to see if Ms. Riedy's comments regarding the flaws in the financial analysis are correct. Perhaps that should be explored.Earl –Apr 18, 2012 22:29:39 PM
Perhaps I should have also mentioned that I have my BA in Theatre, and have almost as many years working in active, well supported community theatres as a volunteer. Trust me, I can see the point of view of the people involved in the arts. However, for too long Libraries, as well as far to many other "Community Services" have not been viewed as a business by our public. If we don't run our Libraries as businesses, they won't last at all. The Las Vegas Clark County Library District is a business. It isn't all about little ladies with our hair in buns being nice. Theatre groups and other arts groups are also businesses. Supporting the arts? Is that why the local art museum had to shut its doors?Lynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 19, 2012 01:30:12 AM
Libraries used to be about providing books, magazines and information. Then we added music....in various and ever changing formats. Then Movies...and I'm talking 16mm film and other formats long before Videos and DVDs. Now it is computers and computer instruction and ebooks and audiobooks and storytimes and in house programs and literacy instruction and homework help and day care and delivery service for the home-bound, and free Wireless as well as free electricity to plug in their lap-tops and cell phones...and the public expects all of this to be provided for free...but libraries have to pay for these things and the money for that has to come from somewhere. Trust me, the tax income just doesn't stretch that far any longer. So I, in turn, have to make decisions on how to make the best use of those tax dollars. I choose to trim back on services that are used the least so as to cause the least impact on my users. Passing the expense on to the users isn't all that uncommon. You pay to make photocopies and computer print-outs. People who have overdue materials or who damage materials are expected to pay for them. Why not for meeting/theatre spaces as well?Lynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 19, 2012 01:43:20 AM
It's a shame that the Boulder City Library doesn't offer theatrical venues for it's patrons. Like any service that any PUBLIC library offers, the theaters should be treated the same way. If tax dollars pay for 100% of the books, story times, or DVD's, the theaters are deserving of being even partially subsidized by both user groups and library. These venues bring in thousands of patrons that might never step foot into a library. Ms. Dahl, you do not know what you are talking about. Public libraries are not a business.Emorej –Apr 23, 2012 22:08:15 PM
I could go on and on about Libraries and our missions and what we do try to do. As I said, we just can't possibly afford to do it ALL. A library is a business, and must be run as a business. Sometimes you have to look at what services you offer and determine if those services are still feasible. If the answer is "No" then we must consider how we can make those services feasible OR if we should, perhaps, stop offering those services entirely.
I would question Ms Reidy's response to the question as to whether or not Las Vegas has a community that wants to support Community Theatre. I've been in Communities that truly support Community Theatres, and Clark County does not fill that bill. The Theatre in the Valley in Henderson has, for all practical purposes bellied up due to lack of support. The Las Vegas Little Theatre is anything but robust financially. How about Ms Reidy's group partnering with LVLT?
That is a more intimate atmosphere than offered at many of the other suggestions which she rejected.Lynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 18, 2012 21:35:45 PM
Ok, I realize I'm sounding like a real witch here, and that I resent my patrons, and that isn't true at all. I LOVE my job. In fact, I'm passionate about doing my job well. If I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't have stayed in the business for so long. I also know how it pains me to have to cut a service due to budget restrictions. I'll do everything I can to save a service before I cut it, and that includes making the painful decision to pass the cost of that service along to the people who use it. Do you have the figures of how much it costs to open and run a theatre facility for an hour with all utilities operational? And how much it costs to maintain that facility? And the expense of the staff needed to run that facility because not just anyone can run a light board and a soundboard? How about the cost of securing and insuring the facility? Oh...and then there are little expenses that add up like providing toilet paper and papertowels in the restroom. All of those expenses and more must be considered as a lump sum. Many of those expenses must be paid even for the days the facilities are not in use, so you spread those expenses out among all the users. It isn't simpleLynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 19, 2012 01:55:44 AM
Hi. I want to begin by recognizing that I am the Director of the Boulder City Library and have been working in public libraries in on capacity or another for well over 30 years. In economic times such as we are facing now, libraries experience financial difficulties just like everyone else, and we have to find ways to stretch our budgets. In Boulder City, the Property Taxes paid by an average home owner each year equals about the cost of 4-6 hard bound books, or about $150.00 per household per year. However, those tax dollars do not support only purchasing materials and the provision of services such as programs and, yes, community spaces (Which, by the way can be expensive to support when you consider just the utilities alone. A spotlight requires electricity, and someone needs to pay for that.) We have to pay for little things like salaries, benefits and utilities. Libraries have a lot of other hidden costs most of the public don't see or understand. The truth is that Libraries just can't possibly be everything that everyone needs in a community. (more to follow)
Lynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 18, 2012 21:26:03 PM
It is a shame that wholesome family entertainment at an affordable price is being taken from our community as a result of these exhorbitant rate increases. We just saw the Signature Production of "Hairspray" at the Summerlin Library as a family. The show was excellent, at a fraction of the cost of a Broadway production or anything you could see on the Strip. We stopped to sign the petition afterward, and the comments from some of the other patrons were around how a family of four will not be able to afford to introduce their children to the performing arts. Groups like Signature and Broadway Bound make no profits from these shows, they only charge admission to cover the costs of the production, and all of the actors are volunteers. In these trying times I find it economically unjust that production companies who are able to offer their shows without admission are still able to secure these facilities free of charge. How can the library district afford to subsidize these groups 100% and are not willing to support other non-profit groups at all? Dianne –Apr 18, 2012 20:12:51 PM
While this is a bad situation it is not unique. Back on the East Coast community theaters have been dealing with this situation for years. Perhaps Broadway Bound would better served putting pressure on the school district to utilize the stages in schools that have cut their theater programs...or under utilize those facilities or churches with halls. There is a new reality here in Las Vegas that the constant flow of money is stopping.Scott –Apr 18, 2012 10:55:45 AM
This "new reality" has been here for quite some time. During this time, the library district has continued to use our dwindling tax dollars to build new facilities WITH performing arts centers. If there was no intention to make them accessible for the use of the community that they serve, why were they built? The "audience" of these non-profit groups have no alternative here for affordable programs. They are the ones who will no longer be served based on the actions of the library district, and they are the ones who funded the construction of these performing arts centers. Makes no sense to me...Earl –Apr 18, 2012 18:37:05 PM
Mrs. Goodrich quoted 1,500 new bookings since the rate increase. This number is made up mostly of meeting space rentals and NOT performing arts center rentals as you can see from the lvccld.org website under "Events". She is also failing to mention that the price for booking the meeting rooms as a "commercial" user actually went down significantly. The rate is now $30 per hour when it was previously $150 for the first 2 hours so of course more organizations will book meeting rooms at the lower rates. Petition can be found at Change.org search words LVCCLD.Marci Riedy –Apr 18, 2012 10:46:39 AM
I'm honestly making this suggestion as a way of tying to help. Have you considered some of the other fine stage facilities that are available in the area? One example is the Community Center at McDonald Ranch in Henderson. I know they make their facilities available to outside performance groups because the Theatre In the Valley used to perform on their stage and is also offers a more intimate setting. Their prices may be more reasonable for your group.Lynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 19, 2012 02:18:54 AM
There are only two plays listed for the Summerlin Library through the rest of 2012. Hairspray which is currently running through the 28th of this month and the Las Vegas Valley Ballet Company performing 12/20/2012 through 12/23/2012. This theater used to be booked for most of the summer every year... Gary Allen –Apr 18, 2012 09:58:39 AM
Why does the LVCCLD continue to build its new libraries with expensive materials and architecture, with taxpayer money, and then refuse to provide services at its facilities for a reasonable and affordable rate?
2. What other groups have booked space have booked at the new rate?
3. Why does it seem that the Board wants the theaters to die? Why aren't they trying to solve perceived problems in a dispassionate and fair way, instead of what seems like a retaliatory way? Why don't they perceive the library PACs as the last bastion of community performing arts, and treat the shows and performers as valuable and important as computers and fashion magazines?Ann –Apr 18, 2012 09:55:46 AM
Why should the tax payers subsidize certain theater groups in this town while others, who are non-profit, pay for other venues besides the library? What makes Broadway Bound so special over other children's theaters in this town?scott –Apr 18, 2012 10:58:07 AM
This is not just about Broadway Bound. This pricing decision affects multiple other organizations including, but not limited to, Drama Kids, Signature Productions, James Seastrand Helping Hands, Clark County Children's Choir, The Austin Dancers Academy, Trudy Marshall-Piano Teacher, Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive, Las Vegas Gamble-aires and Las Vegas Highland Dance Association. Some Community Theater organizations are fortunate to own their own venue from generous funding, but most "up and coming" performing arts organizations are not. Other organizations receive funding by the City of Las Vegas, such as Rainbow Company. What makes Broadway Bound unique is that it produces full-scale high quality multi-show musical productions staring only children. If you've seen a Broadway Bound, such as Wizard of Oz, you would understand why it is unique.Marci Riedy –Apr 18, 2012 11:18:04 AM
When asked to sign your petition I refused on the basis that when I asked the person back which programs should be cut from the library to fund the theaters they could not answer. The money is not longer there. Community theater thrives around the country without the benefit of library theaters, huge light set ups, cordless mics, and background tracks. 18 years without an rate increase? You should be thankful it has gone on that long. Learn to live in the new economic reality and show the kids you don't need all the bells and whistles to still do theater. BTW I have seen a few of your shows..and THERE ARE other non-profit children's theaters in this town that do just as well with less (bedsides Rainbow)..perhaps you should take a page from their books. scott –Apr 18, 2012 12:16:15 PM
Jeannie keeps saying she wants to use library resources to help school kids with success at school. how does providing DVD movies help this? The library purchases and loans thousands of movies; why spend money on this? maybe patrons should pay to use the movies. How do DVDs provide better education to our children than performing arts productions, culturally-speaking?
2. Also, storytimes and cognitive services (literacy services) are provided by volunteers. How does the "budget" for these mean that performing arts must suffer?
3. What theaters cost more and less than the library PACs?Ann –Apr 18, 2012 09:48:16 AM
I would be willing to bet that more people borrow DVDs from the public library than use the meeting facilities. As someone running a business, where do you put the money? One way or another, there will be costs involved involved in providing services such as the meeting facilities. Either the Library will seek to increase their overall tax rates across the board, or they will charges for the use of those facilities. Personally, I think that perhaps the expense of using those facilities should be charged to the people/organizations who use them.Lynn Schofield-Dahl –Apr 18, 2012 21:44:32 PM
It was a very drastic increase and should have been implented over time. The raise in costs for using the theater space has left a lot of community theater groups with no affordable place to perform within their community. I was at one of the public hearings and some of the board of trustee's were seemingly uncaring and one was even extremely rude. Gary Allen –Apr 18, 2012 09:45:08 AM