James M. Kaplan, Fargo, Published July 15 2012
Most limiting factor at downtown Fargo library is parking problemI was astonished to see in The Forum (June 29) that the Fargo Public Library was kicking off the promotion “Parking at your library pays.” The single factor that limits use of the downtown library is the poor parking.
Recently, the city severely decreased the on-street parking near the library. If you do score a parking spot, you get only 90 minutes; the 91st minute can cost you $15.
To use the parking lot, you have to enter the lot, though often the card machine or the boom is out of order. You need to cross a dangerous, heavily trafficked street with no pedestrian crossing light. You need to have a librarian validate the parking card. The librarian is either helping another patron or on a coffee break, or you have to wait in line. The library doesn’t trust the patrons to validate their own parking card. The patron has to then re-cross the street and get in line while the parking attendant takes his sweet time figuring out how much you may or may not owe. If there is a big event at the Civic Center, forget it; parking is impossible. No spaces are reserved for library patrons.
Residents are paying increased sales taxes to fund the new library, but patrons are limited to two hours of use because of the parking validation. Beth Postema, the deputy librarian who is in charge of this parking gimmick, is misleading the public.
What about a student who wants to spend an afternoon at the public library working on a term paper? What about a senior citizen who wants to spend the afternoon reading at the library? After two hours, their free parking time is up; they have to leave and rush to their car.
If you want to spend an afternoon at a library downtown, you have to go to Moorhead. At the west side of the new library, there is a large parking area, but its use is limited to the handicapped because an inordinate amount of space that could be used for library patron parking is saved for the book depository. In Moorhead this is in the middle of the parking area so that you can both park and drop off books.
Librarian Postema can set up all the parking gimmicks she wants, but the fact remains: Accessibility and use of the main library is hampered and limited by the poor parking.