Sunday, April 20, 2014

An open letter to the St. Louis County Library District Board of Trustees


To the Board of Trustees of the St. Louis County Library:

At this moment, the Board of Trustees holds in its hand a rare and remarkable opportunity. With one simple decision, the Board has the chance to:

  • Serve its patrons above and beyond their expectations
  • Make wise and efficient use of taxpayer dollars
  • Celebrate the history of St. Louis County
  • Conserve a significant and beautiful work of art
  • Practice innovative, creative governance
  • Leave a lasting legacy

All this and more will be accomplished in a single stroke – if the Board will simply choose to let the original William and Clark library building remain standing.


Save the building, and a smaller, much less expensive addition can be added to it – saving taxpayer money, and keeping tons of material out of landfills.

Save the building, and future County residents will have a direct link to the past, through a building that their parents and grandparents used when they were children.

Save the building, and its stained glass will remain in its original, intended context – and will continue to delight generations of County residents.

Save the building, and library patrons will continue to have access to a delightful, whimsical, unique space – and it will serve their needs better than ever.

I urge the Board not to destroy this building, but to shepherd it through its middle years, update it and make it better than ever. Do not fall victim to the notion that age alone is reason enough to demolish a building – a community cannot gain the historic legacy of a hundred year old building if everything is knocked down when it turns fifty. Renew and update Lewis and Clark, so that in another 50 years, it will still be proudly serving its patrons, a historical legacy and landmark for the County.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Looking for Technical Help Moving Forward

Are you a web content management guru (or guru-in-training)? Ever wanted to lend a hand to Built St. Louis, but didn't know how? Here's your chance!

Built St. Louis has always been a hand-tagged site - that means that I typed in, or copy-pasted, every scrap of HTML and CSS on every page. When I brought the site into its current format back in 1999, that was the only way to do it. It wasn't such a problem back then. Now, however, with approximately 1,200 pages and several dozen tours, it has become extremely unwieldy, to the point that it inhibits my ability to add new content. I need to focus on writing, research, grammar and spelling, dates and names, selecting and touching up photographs - not making sure that baden-north03.html links to baden-church02.html in all the right places.

I have a strong vision of how the site should work, but I lack the technical know-how to implement any of it, or handle the migration of a huge number of manually built pages to a standardized system. I need someone who knows about Content Management Systems to help me get things set up, or at least advise on how I can get going down the right road.

If you or someone you know is willing to lend some technical help in the name of the city's architecture, please contact me at I'll see to it that any and all assistance is recognized on the site, and I will be hugely grateful.