Bar Association, commissioners at odds over Law Library

November 9, 2012

LIMA — The last time the Allen County Law Library switched homes was 1990, moving from the Allen County Courthouse to the newly renovated Third District Court of Appeals Building. It appears the office is set to move again, but not everyone is happy about that prospect.

Ben Rose, vice president of the Allen County Bar Association, told members of the Allen County Law Library Resource Board on Thursday that association members voted unanimously to oppose moving the law library anywhere else.

“It was clear from this meeting that there just has to be basic due diligence done in terms of doing the homework that you do before you make one of these basic decisions,” Rose said. “It’s clear to me the commissioners have no idea what the costs of this thing are, they have no idea or they’re unwilling to express an idea if they have it as to who’s going to move in here. ... That’s a dumb thing to do in this era of austerity when they’ve got offices and employees who are hurting in the county and taxpayers who don’t want to waste money.”

One option on the table is to move the commissioners’ office into the space. Commissioner Greg Sneary confirmed that is a possibility but said no decision will be made about precisely how to use the space until after newly elected commissioners Jay Begg and Cory Noonan take office in January.

“One of the things it’s probably the prime space in the whole county of any of the spaces and it’s probably utilized the least of any of them. That’s one thing that precipitated the review,” Sneary said. “We didn’t say we’re going to go pick on the Law Library or anything like that. It’s just a matter of does this make the best use for what we’re doing and whether it’s reasonable or not.”

On Thursday, Sneary delivered a deadline, saying commissioners would like to see the current space vacated by the end of the year. Commissioners have given the Law Library two current options for relocation: some of the third floor office space at the Court of Appeals Building formerly used by Prosecutor Juergen Waldick’s office and the former Allen County Title Office space in the basement of the courthouse annex.

Scott Shafer, chairman of the Law Library Resource Board, said that’s a tall order for the law library.

“The problem the Law Library faces is the simple logistics of doing that. In this facility there are probably 100 tons of books here, that’s a considerable project to deal with,” Shafer said. “Plus, this space was designed for this purpose specifically. You can’t just toss a library in anyplace because of the simple weight of the books. Here we have also the issue of access to the courts and the logistics here of where we’re located. This works as a great space as a library. Making it into something else I don’t know that remains to be seen whether that’s a more efficient use of space or not.”