An update on the new library building project turned into a debate at Tuesday’s regular fiscal court meeting between Magistrate Jo Orange and library volunteer and advisor Evelyn Richardson.
Richardson attended the meeting along with library trustee Tom Noe to give an update on the project’s progression and to ask the court for a financial contribution.
Both Richardson and Noe spoke on the benefits of the new library to be built on Armory Drive and told of how ground breaking will most likely take place before the first snow. Bids on the $3.3 million project are to be accepted by the end of September.
Magistrates Russell Poore and Thomas Bouldin both agreed a new library would be a benefit to the community, if it can be afforded.
It was Orange; however, that said she felt the library had changed over the years and was supplying more entertainment than education. Richardson strongly disagreed with Orange, who is a retired educator, and has been against building a new library from the get go.
“A lot of the library services are pure entertainment. I don’t think hard-working tax payers should have to pay for entertainment,” said Orange.
Richardson chimed back saying that reading a good novel can be both entertaining and educational.
In a previous article published in the News-Democrat & Leader, Orange said, she questioned building the new library for a number of reasons.
“The first is I do not believe we can afford to put 3.3 million dollars into a building and still have any money left over for library services unless the Board continues to increase the library tax or decreases library services,” Orange said.
Other issues Orange had expressed include the site which the library will be located. She says it is in a floodplain and the ability to walk to the library will now be eliminated.
“We are living in an electronic age and the virtual library is here. Many resources are available digitally; we read books on e-readers and research on computers or smart phones without even going to the library. This has changed and will continue to change the role of the public library. Right now is not the time to be putting millions of dollars into a building.,” said Orange previously.
Mr. Noe assured the court the library board was not intending to raise taxes to pay for building the new library. He said he of course could not speak for future boards and their decisions.
The library building project was just recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the Carpenter Foundation to help build the the new facility. This gives the library $800,000 towards the project in funds generated from donations, endowments and fundraising efforts.
Noe asked the court for a financial contribution from the court to be taken from the reserve fund, admitting he knew that would probably never happen, but said the new library was for the benefit of all of Logan County’s citizens. He explained the more money the project has, the less money borrowed and the less chance that a future board will have to raise library taxes.
Richardson, who began working as a regional librarian in 1967 and retired in the 1990s, said when the library was built, they knew then that eventually this day would come when they outgrew the old facility and more room would be needed.
“We are very excited and want you to be excited with us,” said Richardson to the court.
Richardson gave a few statistics including a yearly intake count that showed 300-400 visitors to the Logan Library each day. She also said that 57 percent of Logan Countians had active library cards.
Magistrate Drexell Johnson said he could not vote for taking money out of the reserve fund to help build a new library when some people in his district would have to drive down a dusty gravel road to visit that library.
Noe also talked about the new library and how nice it will be for the community. He said is will be state-of-the-art facility and will offer a “wow factor” to those who visit.
Magistrate Russell Poore said the calls he has received are from citizens concerned about the library possibly raising taxes to pay for it.
“Have you taken into consideration once it’s built how you are going to pay for running it?” asked Poore of Noe.
“Yes,” said Noe reiterating that at this time the library does not intend to raise taxes to pay for the project or to run it.
“The library board has been working with the architect, who assures the new facility will be advanced and efficient,” said Noe.
Mrs. Richardson noted that the library board has been working with a financial advisor for years.
No motion was made by the magistrates regarding Noe and Richardson’s request for funds to build the new libary.