Forums Set on Downtown Library’s Future

The Ann Arbor District Library board has scheduled three public forums in June to seek input on the future of the downtown Ann Arbor District Library – including the possibility of putting a millage on the ballot in November 2012 to fund a project. According to a press release issued by AADL on Tuesday, the forums are also intended for library staff to present information about “the challenge and opportunities presented by the Downtown Library.” Tours of the current building at 343 S. Fifth Ave. will also be provided.

The forums are set for Saturday, June 9 from 10 a.m.-noon; Tuesday, June 12 from 7-9 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 20 from 7-9 p.m. All forums will be held in the downtown library’s basement multi-purpose room at 343 S. Fifth Ave. in Ann Arbor.

According to the press release, the library board is considering placing a bond proposal on the November ballot to fund changes at the downtown site, and wants to offer residents a chance to ask questions and give feedback. Comments or questions can also be emailed to

This is the latest action by the library’s leadership in moving toward a possible new downtown building. A recent survey commissioned by AADL – and presented to the board at its April 16, 2012 meeting – indicates voter support for a tax increase to pay for major renovations or reconstruction of that building. At that same meeting, the board voted to form a three-member special facilities committee, charged with making recommendations to the full board.

By way of background, several years ago the AADL board had spent months evaluating the condition of the downtown building and working with the local firm Luckenbach Ziegelman Architects on designing a new structure. But in late 2008 the board voted to suspend redevelopment of the downtown building, citing the shaky economy. [See Chronicle coverage: "Citing Economy, Board Halts Library Project."]

The topic has been addressed at subsequent AADL board meetings: “New Downtown Library? If, When and Where,” and “Board Renews Library Building Discussion.” And in November 2011, the board voted to provide $45,000 in funding for consultants to help resume the process of possibly redeveloping that downtown building. The building is located south of the city’s new underground parking garage, which is being built by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and is now tentatively named the Library Lane Parking Structure.

However, the board has not explicitly discussed at its public meetings the specific intent of putting a millage on the November 2012 ballot. To date, there has been very little public discussion among board members about specific options they might be considering.