After all, who wants to be known as the people who said no to the Friends of the Library?
There are plenty of worthy, do-good service clubs and organizations in Crookston that have a positive impact on our community and region.
But when a service group’s name has the word “Friends” in it, doesn’t it immediately up the positivity ante? After all, who doesn’t want to be with “Friends”?
Then, the slam dunk: The name of the group that already includes the word “Friends” also includes the word “Library.” Where do we sign up, right?
So there you have it: The perfect do-good group, your own Friends of the Library right here in Crookston. A group that exists solely to do good things at Crookston’s Public Library, which is part of the Lake Agassiz Regional Library system, the Friends of the Library identifies projects they’d like to do for the library each year, then raises money toward that effort. As Crookston Library Board member Frank Lindgren, a city council member, explained at the city Community Development Committee earlier this week, the Friends of the Library might buy some furniture for the library, for instance.
This time around, the Friends want to buy a digital, LED reader-board sign to be placed on the library property, so motorists, pedestrians and anyone else who navigates the intersection of Robert and Ash streets will see what events, activities or programs are coming up at the library, and, likely, announcements on other community events as well. It’s not a very big sign, and a digital rendering of what it might look like, shown to committee members by Building Inspector Matt Johnson, looks downright sharp, and appears to be a nice addition to that intersection.
The library, located on city property, needs to be rezoned as an “Institutional” property in order to make the sign a reality. So the committee on Monday needed to refer the matter to the Planning Commission, which will either reject it or recommend the zoning change for council approval.
If it seems like a no-brainer, it’s apparently not. Some council members and city officials think the sign could be a distraction and spur car crashes or pedestrians getting run over. Others think such signs only add to a community’s clutter. And still others wonder if - even though library proponents want to boost attendance at the many programs made possible by Legacy Amendment funding - it’s a wise investment of Friends of the Library dollars.
Understandably, there might be some concern on the city’s part about maintenance and utility costs associated with the sign, since city money helps fund the library every year. But everyone agrees that digital sign technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the digital crawler sign at Crookston High School was shut off in a largely symbolic move several years ago in the midst of yet another round of budget cuts.
Will every business want to put up similar signs if the library gets their sign, which was another concern expressed Monday? Approving this sign doesn’t amount to setting a nasty precedent, so how about crossing that bridge later, if the city ever even has to.
This is the Friends of the Library we’re talking about, and this is a friendly project they’d like to do. If the city council wants the sign initiative explained in further detail, so be it. But, in the end, let them have their sign, and don’t make them sweat too much in order to do so.