Library Proponents To Ask Taxpayers For $4.3M August 7th For New Building
Notwithstanding the impact of technology (e.g., the Internet and eBooks), Saugatuck-Douglas District Library officials say their is well-documented evidence that many public libraries across the U.S. and Canada have experienced a significant increase in usage.
But the existing local library faces a long list of challenges, including the need for more space for material as well as people, outdated ductwork that causes ventilation and air conditioning problems, groundwater leakage and the presence of mold.
Library representatives say there is a need for a new building. The option of remodeling and expanding the current building, a 1870s’ former Douglas church owned by the city and leased by the library, is not an economically logical option because it would cost more money to generate the same amount of usable space.
“It’s (the library) a quiet place for people to come—different from work, home, and school—and have access to technology and reading material,” Saugatuck-Douglas District Library Director Ingrid Steen Boyer told The Local Observer Tuesday.
She said this in the context of a conversation about the library’s proposed bond issue going before voters this Aug. 7 that entails a 25-year, .4271-mill tax increase ($0.42 on each $1,000 of taxable value, meaning a house with a taxable value of $150,000 would contribute $64.07 per year).
The proposed increase is in addition to the library’s two existing operating millages, a combined total of some .4 mills.
The bond issue, if passed, is projected to raise $4.35 million to build a completely new, one-story library building across from the existing one, a lot purchased years back by the district thanks to private donor funds.
“One of the major drawbacks of the current building is accessibility, especially for our patrons with mobility issues. We have a lot of stairs and a small and unreliable lift (elevator) that is difficult to use,” said Boyer.
“We don’t have enough space for books and DVDs. For every book we buy, we have to withdraw from the existing collection. And we have one public bathroom for the entire building and it is not located in an ideal place.”
Four years ago the local electorate voted down a library bond request of .67 mills ($5.4 million) to build and equip a new 12,500 sq. ft., library at the same building site now being proposed.
Too ambitious and too expensive, said some voters who opposed the bond request then.
Four years later, library reps say they are significantly scaling down both size and price, a result they say which comes directly from survey indicators and focus group discussions.
In the past year, the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library has seen 56,741 visitors, of which 6,127 of them attended the various programs offered by the library (205 children programs and 91 adult programs); 62,125 total checkouts; and 15,202 WiFi sessions on personal devices.
Critics of the proposed cost of a new library say they believe the multi-million dollar price tag is way too much for such a small community.
They also question the library officials’ statement that 56,741 used the library last year as that would mean more than 155 people a day, seven days a week for 52 weeks used the facility.