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— The matter of a downtown library cries out for creative solutions. One of the reasons Mills supported Mayor Dick Murphy is that he said he would reexamine the library and pro-sports subsidies. He didn't follow through, and Mills is disenchanted. "Some say we need a new downtown library because the roof leaks and the plumbing doesn't work sufficiently. I say fix the roof and the plumbing," says Mills.

The location of the proposed downtown library in the ballpark district was "deplorable, chosen only because it adds value to property given to [Padres majority owner] John Moores," says Mills. Mills would repair the current downtown library. He would choose a lower-priced location, probably not downtown, for a facility that would warehouse books and serve as an electronic nerve center for the branches, which are badly in need of upgrading and adequate staffing.

Henderson would also repair the current downtown library and use it for warehousing books and equipment. The branches are key. "Increasingly, this is a society in which the vast majority of people have access to instant information and communication -- technologies that are denied to the rest. Those who don't have such access should get it through a library close enough that they can reach it by walking," he says.

And speaking of communication, "We have to lay out a true picture to the public of what can be funded and what can't be funded, and have a real public discussion," says Frye.

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