By Orange County Register
Locomotives, trolleys and book depositories: Old is becoming new for some government officials throughout California.
The governor has his $68 billion high-speed rail project and Anaheim and Santa Ana are flirting with multimillion-dollar streetcar projects. Now Irvine is studying whether to spend upward of $212 million on a library.
The Irvine City Council was presented with four options last week for the proposed library, slated as a focal point of the Great Park’s Cultural Terrace – 200 acres reserved for museums, an amphitheater and a lake. The options range from a 222,000-square-foot facility, to a building roughly half that size, with two 15,000-square-foot later additions.
But the library that Mayor Steven Choi, the project’s most ardent supporter, envisions is on the larger end of that scale. It would include amenities like a coffee shop, an auditorium, a children’s section and a public computer room.
Mr. Choi, who possesses a doctorate in library and information science and has said that his interest in entering politics was partially predicated on his dream of building a great municipal library, suggested such a repository would be a model to follow for libraries in the 21st century.
Well, it could be argued that, in the 21st century, libraries are a bit of an anachronism. While libraries for centuries served a fundamental communal purpose as centers for study, learning and enlightenment, in the age of Google and 128-gigabyte flash drives, spending $212 million on such a project seems a questionable use of public funds.