Downtown Development and the Library

This month has been an important one in the history of the public library in Ann Arbor. We have been very focused on launching our new website and catalog while moving forward with our branch building program.

Yet some very important decisions are being made about the Downtown that will impact on the public library at Fifth and William for decades. I encourage all citizens of the library district to take the opportunity to participate in the public lectures and workshops sponsored by the A2 Downtown Development Strategy group and add your voice to the discussion about development in Downtown Ann Arbor. Dates/Times/Locations can be found at


I am not much for meetings, but I would gladly provide written input, if you told us where.

(later) I came back to reinforce this point. It seems to me that the current Ann Arbor planning process is heavily tilted towards those who have the time and inclination to attend downtown meetings. Via this blog the library has an opportunity to introduce a corrective factor.

wfzimmerman, All of the contact information for City Council members and the Planning Commission members is available on the City's website. Email addresses are available, too.

Please feel free to use the library's blog to copy your comments to council and the planning commission concerning the development plans for Downtown Ann Arbor.


I have long felt that the parking lot next to the library is something of an eyesore. It's tremendously convenient to have those spaces there, though, so the best solution seems like a mixed-use structure that combines retail, a (bonsai-scale) plaza, and off-street parking.

The parking dropoff situation on fifth is dangerous (and potentially negligent) so it needs to be fixed with a dropoff loop.

That is why the library parking lot has a ten minute grace period for people who park there. You can enter, take a ticket, pick up or drop off your passenger, or even run into the library and drop off a book. When you exit, there is no charge. There is also a special parking spot for library patrons who will just be there for a short time, opposite the booth that is on Fifth. This grace period and parking spot were provided by the Downtown Development Authority (who manages the parking lot) for the convenience of library customers. I agree that stopping on Fifth is dangerous, which is why this grace period was instituted.

In addition, there is a book return on E. William and a couple of very short term parking places for people who want to return a book quickly.

I realize your comments are correct, gunnl, but people still do dropoffs. the presence of the gated entrance is a considerable deterrent, many people don't know about the 10-minute rule.

This block of Fifth Avenue in general is a pain what with the parking lot entrance, which also tends to create dangerous backups. There's an unresolved tension between being a 3-lane motor highway and being a high-usage downtown street.

I appreciate the points of view of all of those responding to this posting and, again, encourage anyone interested in the future of the Downtown area including the Library at Fifth and William to participate in the ongoing events highlighting urban planning. Three lectures will be held in the MPR at the Downtown Library and they are advertised on our website and the City of AA's site, in addition to being in the AA News.

The Library is grateful for the work that the DDA has done to help us cope with our increasing usage. The short term free parking on William near the book drop is utilized. When we decided to remove the freestanding book drops from our porch and build them in to the side of the building on William, we had hoped to eliminate the dangerous habit that patrons had developed of stopping on Fifth and leaving a running vehicle to make quick trips into the Library. What we didn't eliminate is the habit of stopping to let people in or out of cars.

A safe pull in near the Library's front door is our goal and we are encouraged by the work done on the Fifth and Division Study that recognizes the Library's need for a safe passenger drop off area near our entrance.

"his block of Fifth Avenue in general is a pain what with the parking lot entrance, which also tends to create dangerous backups. There's an unresolved tension between being a 3-lane motor highway and being a high-usage downtown street."

People who go into the parking lot may have the same problem, since there can be a line of cars waiting to enter. Fifth has driveways, delivery vehicles, buses turning, pedestrian crossings, and it narrows to two lanes south of William. It's not a "highway" in the sense that you're using the term. Though I'd welcome evidence to the contrary, I think it's overstating the case to describe the current situation as particularly dangerous. At worst it may be inconvenient for people preparing to make a left on William.

The back up of traffic at the light is not dangerous. Passengers being let out or picked up while a car is stopped in moving traffic is dangerous.