Maybe Albemarle Should Just Not Build the Crozet Library

The government don’t seem capable of building it or funding it, so why keep the citizens’ hopes up?

Read the whole thing at Charlottesville Tomorrow, and don’t miss the timeline of the Crozet Library.

By the end of the summer, the parking lot for the new Crozet Library will be completed. As for the $9.6 million, 20,000-square-foot library itself, Albemarle officials said last week that, absent sufficient capital funding, its start date was uncertain and the project may have missed the window of a very favorable construction market. ?


“The most recent estimate that we just received has that cost estimate at around $6.8 million or just under $300 a square foot,” Henry said, describing the construction costs in the $9.6 million overall project. “The big drivers in that cost estimate change are site work and concrete.”

But at least we’ll have a parking lot.

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47 Replies to “Maybe Albemarle Should Just Not Build the Crozet Library”

  1. Does anyone know the annual number of unique Crozet Library visitors?  And what is the geographic area of those visitors?

      1. Assuming the library serves 5500 unique people a year (I don’t know how many families that translates to) with an overall cost of $10  million that’s $1819 a person up front costs.

        It seems a bit expensive for library only use.  However, there are also other community uses for the building.  It seems it would have made more sense to sell the building as a central community resource center to try to spread the costs to more than just the library budget.

        1. See the Gazette this month – we were offered a low interest loan by Feds when costs were cheap county said no.

          My only issue is during the Master Planning were sold a bill of goods – new library, streetscaping, infrastructure provided by the county since we would have many, many more people.

          Okay we bought that line from the county – IN FACT we saw the new library so central to the mission that we asked for it to be built in 2007 and it was moved up in the plan.

          All it’s been is lots of new growth and very slow, poorly managed county projects that are way behind schedule.   How long is it going to take just to put in the waste water project for the library?    

          Come on Albermarle county – you CAN do better – this is embarrassing use of our tax dollars.   

    1. It’s astonishing how much revenue they took in and spent during the boom years, but I can’t see much of anything to show for it. It’s baffling and infuriating. 

        1. My original comment was that this is positively infuriating. 
          (Not that I expect the Crozet Gazette feels any differently… 🙂

  2. Crozet already has a library. The question is whether Crozet needs a new one?
    Is the money well spent on this outdated concept?  Is the cost of operating and
    maintaining this new building in line with the current trends in electronic media delivery?  Are there other more pressing needs locally and County wide? The Rescue Squad building is shameful. Not enough room to hardly turn a vehicle around.  Not enough of a priority???  Crozet should get the new library once they have a special taxation district set up. It is easy to get what you want if you are willing to pay for it.

    1. It’s not a question as to whether the Western Albemarle community needs a new library.  We needs a new library.  There is no doubt that the current building is inadequate for the current usage, not to mention future growth.  The building is too small and inefficient. Ditto for the parking lot – employee and customer.  The question is whether we need to spend $10 million on a library building when there are other needs of the community, such as the Squad House.

      1. That really is the question since there are other communities
        whose residents pay the same taxes that do not have a library at all. It is kinda eay to lose sight of what you have vs what you want vs what others don’t have…

  3. I think the old library is around 1250 square feet.  I don’t believe we need a new one that is eight times that, especially for something that is, as Edward states, an outdated concept.  How often does anyone use it, especially for research?
    I love going to the library, but rarely do.  I love to read, but don’t have as much time as I would like. 
    I believe we could have remodeled the old Crozet school to fit our needs.   The public spaces in the new library could have been found elsewhere.  I believe the new library is overkill for this community, even anticipating growth.

    1. I’d challenge anyone to show evidence, not opinions, that the library is an outdated concept.  According to Jim there are apparently more than 5500 unique monthly customers to the library-probably more than most any business in the Western Albemarle area.

      The current design might be overkill but that doesn’t negate the need for a new library.

      1. Well, where is your evidence? Books have been going digital for years.  Ever hear of Kindle? WalMart even sells E-readers. The
        point is Crozet has a library.  It does not need a new, larger,
        building and all the expense that goes with it.  Digital delivery
        of Library content would open up library services to far more people at a fraction of the cost.  The money would be better spent on a public wireless network in Crozet.  Instead of wasting
        taxpayer money on something already outdated it could be invested in a more inclusive, forward thinking solution.

        What are your 5,500 unique monthly customers using the library for??  That 5,500 unique number sounds self serving
        at best to me…

        1. A public wireless network is crozet is fine to keep up with the Jones.  Charlottesville downtown mall has WIFI, but its so slow its unusable. 

          I think communities need to have more public places, like libraries, instead of keeping people in their homes.    Does it cost more, you bet it does.  However, how can you put a $$ on stuff like this.

          My vote, expand the current library.  What about the Parking lot….WALK….walk from the new lot in the expanded square.    What is it something like 1/2 block distance?   There would still need to be a few parking spots for handicap, but others just walk below the bridge and make crozet a walking community.   The current library has character and the structure is already there. 

          1. A Public wireless network does not have to be slow. And, unlike a new library it’s costs are dropping as time goes on.

            Getting people out of their homes and away from their electronic devices is another issue.
            If the area itself won’t, I guess we will have to wait for the WalMart.

            Expanding the library with taxpayer money is an
            option if accurate data can be brought forward to support it.  Just how “unique” are the 5,500
            monthly customers?

            How many stop to ask for directions?
            How many stop in to make copies?
            How many come to use the internet?
            How many come to visit or arrive with someone?
            How many actually come to borrow and return books?
            How many come for digital media?

            I guess that it will be up to our elected officials to
            get us the answers…

          2. You’re correct, WIFI doesn’t have to be slow, but many public WIFI are just not maintained.  Someone needs to maintain it, and with the public sector i just don’t see it happening.  Private WIFI is in their best interested to keep things going.   

            I’m still chant on extend the current library into existing parking lot and WALK, WALK WALK.  its a great looking building and i see posts that kids don’t walk to school.  What kind of example are we setting if we  can’t walk 1/2 block to a library from a nearby parking lot? 

        2. You might try reading Tim’s post above, or pay attention to the number of unique monthly customers which I said was 5500 but, according Tim, the visitation is 6000/month in the winter and 9000/month in the summer – not unique visitors but total visitation.  I believe he said there is an average of 2 books per visitor.

          If you don’t agree with the numbers, stand out there with a counter , and ask each patron how many books they checked out.  Until you have any hard evidence – which you currently don’t – you’re spewing inaccurate opinions about something which you’re unqualified to do.

          To say that the library doesn’t need a new building is incorrect.  It doesn’t necessary need new construction but the old space is inadequate.  Again you can read what Tim wrote, the Old Crozet School is long settled.

          But hey, keep telling the library to deliver books digitally – something they already do.  Of course, getting publishers to deliver library licensed e-content is becoming more challenging – so good luck with that.

          A public wireless network is a joke of an idea. Private companies do an excellent job of providing internet coverage in Crozet – why should the government intrude on private enterprises in that manner?

          1. Just a clarification – the 5500/month number was from a story here in December 2009 – 


            Tim’s numbers now are more detailed. 

            We need a bigger library. We need a centrally-located library. 

            And we need it three years ago. I am becoming convinced that the government has the capacity to build it.

            I wonder if Afghanistan has a new library. They’re getting at least $320 million a month. Can’t we get $10 million?


          2. Read it, heard it, do not agree with it. All you do
            is parrot what someone else says. Where are your numbers? Where is your evidence? What is the breakdown of the numbers? Do schoolchildren count as potential downtown customers? Private industry can provide an internet cafe. Fire and Rescue squad services are
            far more important than a library. You want to spend a huge chunk of taxpayer money on a showplace library when there are clearly other needs. This is not Crozet’s money to spend. If
            strong economic activity is linked to the presence of a library why is Albemarle Square
            shopping center so empty? Northside library
            should of turned that around by now. There is a new economic realty . The old slogans no longer apply… People can throw up huge amounts of numbers to get what they want especially when they want the rest of us to pay for it. Create a special Crozet tax district and then pay for and build your museum. That is a sure way to get it built.  IF, you could actually get any support for this…

          3. Ladies and Gentlemen … Sarah Palin Strauss from Greenwood, Virginia …

          4. And you are?? Grow up, I do not live in Greenwood. I do accept
            responsibility for who I am and what my thoughts are…

          5. i now rush through all the comments to read how obstinate and disconcerting these comments are. i still think a possible “Joe Pyne” anchor spot could be created where your antagonistic views would be appreciated

    2. I recall the comments over the fact that a library on Rt 29 North was very controversial.  The County made the decision to lease space and create the Northside Jefferson Regional Library in a leased space.  The lease includes all the maintenance, repairs and operating costs associated with the space and is renewal able a periodic intervals to maintain equity for all parties.   Would not this be a good idea for a West Side Jefferson Madison Regional Library rather than adding more overhead to Albemarle County Budget that in time may or may an obsolete concept but it certainly provides sensible options for review rather than a monument to
      those who are adamant that a  $8M dollar building that will “draw”
      customers to “The Square”. 
      You are entirely right, the Old Crozet School would have been ideal and I don’t buy the idea that it could not have been structually adapted to accomodate the needs of the library for a lot less money than $8M dollars.  

      I also see that we send 2 men and a truck from the County to come empty the trash containers on the “streetscape” that has already been built.  This trash removal occurs at least weekly and is a 1/2 of equipment and manpower, in addition, the new lighting on the “street to nowhere – waiting on the library” is not free to the county and maintenance is required on those .. provided by whom.. The County of Ablemarle.  With budgetary woes befalling every city and county in the United States of America and the Federal Goverment credit rating dropping.. is it not time to create smaller rather than bigger government expenditures and let American foster the spirt that built this great country.. taking care of themselves and paying as you go.  Let’s wake up and realize that the local, state and federal government the answer to every concern “we the people” have in life.  It’s up to us to utilize our creativity, innovation and ingenuity to solve our problems rather than creating a “Santa List” and presenting to govermental agencies.

      1. An $8 ($10) million dollar building won’t draw customers to the square.  However, a new library building in that area will at least bring 6000 customers/month in the winter and 9000 customers/month in the summer to neighboring businesses.

        My guess is that the current library doesn’t have nearly the economic impact that a new library would.  It is isolated by the train tracks, a 2 land road with a busy intersection, and poor parking.  Library patrons won’t stop in to the business next door to grab a coffee or a bite to eat.  They’re probably more likely just to go on home.

        So no, a $10 million dollar building won’t draw customers to the square but a new library will.

        And FYI, we fought the Revolutionary War with borrowed money.

        1. We are still engaging in wars with borrowed money: remember the huge tax cuts enacted (means telling those benefiting that they do NOT have to share the burden but reap the gains) at the same time when the military industrial complex was overjoyed with two costly invasions (Iraq, Afghanistan) making millionaires of defense contractors.
          Lovely isn’t it?

  4. This conversation feels like almost every other one in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. It takes so long to get anything done/built that by the time it’s ready to be done, the idea is obsolete … but proponents feel the need to keep pushing forward because the alternative – starting over – is not an option.

    I started off thinking, “don’t build it because you can’t/you’re incompetent” but now I’m thinking expand what you have because the concept of libraries has changed in the past decade.

    1. Just look at the ridiculous step by the dinosaur Lindsey Dorrier to bring up the US 29 western bypass again. We keep stuck in obsolete ideas (numerous traffic intersections have been added since north of where the bypass would join US29 i.e. the design is useless now) that looked good a century ago. Some people are just not fit to manage our county. 
      Public librairies however are NOT an outdated concept. Lots of people still read real books and magazines, use many other services provided. The idea that everybody now can or want to rely solely on internet/on-line reading is pertinent false. 

  5. Folks,  a couple of background facts.
    Last year, Crozet Library had over 71,000 people visit it. Around 6,000 a month, less in the winter and over 9,000 a month in the summer (The child and teen reading program had over 150 kids signed up!).    
    The library circulated nearly 137,750 items – about 2 items per visitor and an increase of almost 10% from 2009.  But off course, like Ed mentions, some folks come in to ask for directions.   To get help accessing online information, get Federal tax forms, or make a copy, so not all the 71,000 patrons check things in or out. 
    Use the computers to apply for jobs because they do not have internet at home because they live in rural areas.
    Only 1.6% of Crozet Library’ s circulation is  non-Albemarle residents. 

    As for needing a bigger library building – the current one is only 1,800 square feet.  That is smaller than most private homes in Albemarle County.  There are standards for sizing libraries
    For many years the minimum square footage standard for any public library, regardless of patron traffic or circulation, as set by the State Library Board of Virginia,  has been 4,500 square feet. 
    One is population to be serviced.   Crozet Library’s service area is
    roughly a 6 mile circle around the library; that’s north up past White Hall, east to Ivy, west to the base of Afton Mountain, south to Batesville.  
    The current Virginia State library standard is  .8 square feet per person (per capita).  North Carolina’s state standard is 1.0 square foot per capita.    Many years ago, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, through the CIP process,  adopted .7 SF as Albemarle’s goal.   Based on those standards, and projections by the County’s GIS folks,  Crozet’s service area population (that is, the population within 6 miles of the library) can reach 25,000
    You want to size a new building to be big enough to support the surrounding population for many decades.

    The other rule of thumb in public library development is that when a building’s circulation of library materials (checkouts) reaches 25 per square foot per year, the library should plan for expansion.  Here’s how JMRL’s annual circulation per square footage compared as of July 2009: Central Library, 11;  Gordon Avenue Library, 25;  Scottsville Library, 17;  Greene County Library, 13;  Louisa County Library 7;  Nelson County Library, 17.  The two Albemarle libraries that have been discussed for possible expansion are as follows:  Northside Library (Albemarle Square), 34;  Crozet Library, 76. Let me say that again, the trip point is 25, Crozet Library is over THREE times that at 76 in 2009!
    Crozet Library makes very efficient use of its limited space, but it is clearly overcrowded compared to other JMRL libraries and it is, in fact, substandard based on any of Virginia’s state standards.
    That’s why its shelves are stuff, too high for all but the tallest patrons to reach the top.   

    The JMRL staff in Crozet’s Library are wonderful – but they work in appalling conditions. Have you been in the bathroom there?  It’s also their storage closet.    The branch manager, Wendy Saz’s office is a desk in the meeting room, so she can’t work when it’s in use.
    I love the current library building too, but it’s too small to be a library facility for the size community we already have.

    As for libraries not being needed and electronic books replacing physical books.  The physical book circulation has increased right along with the e-book circulation.  JMRL offers check-out of electronic books (e-books) for readers. Also, be aware not everyone can afford to purchase books from Amazon or iTunes. 
    Every report, study, statistic shows that across the country library circulation of materials, including physical books, and visits to the library is increasing steadily and has been all this century. 
    To paraphase Mark Twain, news of the library’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

    As for the discussion about why not use the Old School?   Clearly you weren’t hear in 2006 when that was debated, publicized and decided.   Using the Old school was a recommendation of the consultants hired by JMRL in 1999 and County in 2000.  However, that wasn’t done and that ship has sailed.

    The currently planned Claudius Place building is a wonderful example of the economic driver and synergy created by a new library.   The new library hasn’t even broken ground, but already a new commercial building is going up across the street from it, based on and complementing its look.   Libraries attract people.
    People like to shop at places nearby a library.   National studies show that for every $1 put into a library building, the community gets $4 to $5 ROI in additional commercial activity and resulting tax revenue.

    I’d welcome an opportunity to discuss any of this with anyone.
    Happy to meet you at the library, at the MudHouse, at Old Trail Coffee or place of your preference.    My contact information is below.

    The views expressed herein are my own, and are not offered as those of any organizations I have affiliation.   I speak for me
    and not as a spokesperson for them.
    Tim F.J. Tolson, Crozet, VA 22932
    Home: 434-823-5899 / [email protected]
    President, Crozet Community Association
    Secretary, Crozet Community Advisory Council
    Albemarle County Trustee, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library
    ** grow. learn. connect. @

    “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth

    as the free public library, this republic of letters,

    where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the

    slighest consideration. ”          – Andrew Carnegie

    1. Good to know that the President of the CCA doesn’t know the name of the coffee shop in Old Trail.

      1. Yeah — God forbid he typed this in haste and didn’t proofread it for this very important internet bloggy thingy …

        1. proof reading is not the same as getting it PLAIN WRONG!. It would be nice to know that the CCA president KNOWS the businesses in Crozet. Nit picky perhaps, but I would hope he would know the name of my business if I had one in Crozet…especially if I was trying to set up a meeting there:)

  6. i increasingly think our county government is backwards and not serving the public. we wait so long for basic services like a recycling center or sidewalks. the library has become an albatross because of the county governments ability to commit resources for the future of our community and children. where is all the money going or gone from the many years of development? decades of development and where is the money? waynesboro has a very nice library facility which is now being renovated after providing decades of service. look at the beautiful charlottesville city water parks and swimming facilities or playgrounds. ditto for waynesboro and staunton. where is the money and where did it go? let’s bring out everything and look at the budget from now and year’s past. is it faulty road work that is eating up the budget? schools are cutting corners in many ways including staffing. does the county need a whole fleet of new cars yearly? how many are there and at what cost? the library was started by private citizenry and may have to return to that mode. this still doesn’t take care of other shortfalls that i have mentioned.

    1. no,we deserve and should demand better than that. look at the fortune being spent on jarman gap rd. all at the behest of developers and development. the infrastructure is there. we just need some government leaders with backbone to say yes. yes to 100 years of learning to what we cannot possibly learn from kowtowing to big bank bailouts and other big pockets. the county government is long on non responsive service to the general public but big on responding to special interests. i must reiterate how strong the public and community recreation and other services are in other communities. look at greene county with their newly constructed library that also shares with jefferson area board of aging.

    2. Cause the unelected boards want an expensive new building all their own. I know, hard to believe. We need it so bad but, they only want it
      their way…

      1. man you are a born cynic. why not build another aircraft carrier or a fleet of unmanned drones. how about a fleet of limos for congress. i read the military spent 20 billion on air conditioning. isn’t that cool.

        1. So that is you logic to justify what is going on.  The nonsense going on right in front of us can be stopped if enough people get involved. Washington is 135 miles up the road.

          1. washington is right here in our pocket. whether it be the bank of america bailout or the rest of the corporate welfare structure. i don’t think supporting ignorance by not building learning centers. the facts are there that google and other techy groups filter information. book knowledge is real knowledge not cnn,nbc,google,or microsoft.

          2. A library is a learning center??? Your home is a learning center, the world is a learning center, your life is a learning
            project in progress. If you are at the point that you need a library, it is just an excuse…

          3. A library is a learning center??? Your home is a learning center, the world is a learning center, your life is a learning
            project in progress. If you are at the point that you need a library, it is just an excuse…

          4. And applying that uninformed logic, we don’t need schools either, because after all life is a learning center. You are a singular voice of ignorance in the greater Crozet community

          5. Education is required by law and provided by the county.  No logic needed here. Having a different opinion is not ignorance.
            Wanting something and
            wanting other people to pay for it, in my opinion,
            is. There is a library in Crozet, I hope you actually use it.

  7. here is a good article about libraries and their importance.                                                                                                                                    ttp://

    1. Another opinion piece and we already have a library. If Crozet really wanted and needed a library it would ask to be put in a special tax district where it could build and pay for what it wanted. That is the difference between wants and needs. The desire and ability to pay for it. There is an empty library street. Be happy with that.

    2. Another opinion piece and we already have a library. If Crozet really wanted and needed a library it would ask to be put in a special tax district where it could build and pay for what it wanted. That is the difference between wants and needs. The desire and ability to pay for it. There is an empty library street. Be happy with that.

Something to say?