Millions of dollars allow libraries to turn the page into the next century
Did you know that the first “bookless library” opened in September 2013 in San Antonio, Texas? The BiblioTech library started with a catalog of 10,000 e-books. The library building contains no printed books, and members can even check out a book without entering the facility. But technology and amenities offered inside the facility has beckoned thousands of its members to enter this community gathering space. The 4,800-square-foot library has colorful walls, a play area for kids and opened with 45 iPads, 40 laptops and 48 desktop computers. This year, a second BiblioTech facility opened up with a digital library on the East Side of San Antonio.
As of 2015, there were 98,460 school libraries, 9,082 public libraries, 3,793 academic libraries, 934 government libraries, 252 armed forces libraries, and 6,966 special libraries in the United States. Public libraries remain very popular for gathering trusted and accurate information. The Pew Research Center released a study in 2016 that showed Americans want a library that offers programs to teach people digital skills and to learn creative technologies like 3-D printers. Visitors also want a comfortable place for reading, working and relaxing.
In Massachusetts, attendance at public library programs has increased 49 percent since 2006 and every 5.5 seconds a Massachusetts resident accesses the Internet through a public library. In July, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded nine communities Provisional Construction Grants through the state-funded Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). Twenty-four other communities have been placed on a waitlist and will receive library grants as funding becomes available.
Communities receiving library grants are as follows:
Medford Medford Public Library $12,290,917
Weymouth Weymouth Public Libraries – Tufts Library $12,085,184
Wayland Wayland Free Public Library $10,137,980
Norwell Norwell Public Library $6,360,764
Dartmouth Dartmouth Public Libraries – North Dartmouth Branch $5,346,004
Sutton Sutton Public Library $4,979,584
Springfield Springfield City Library – East Forest Park Branch $4,906,115
Hadley Goodwin Memorial Library $3,905,625
During the next six months, grant recipients will work with their communities to secure the local match funding necessary to accept their grants. Funding for the MPLCP is authorized by the governor and the legislature. Funding for this grant round is part of the general governmental needs bond bill filed in March 2013 which included $150 million for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program.
In Colorado, Denver City Council members have reviewed more than 460 projects that make up a proposed $937 million GO Bond package, with plans to finalize the package to present to voters in November. The project list is split about 50-50 between new projects and tackling deferred maintenance. The library has said it has about $100 million in needs and will get about $38 million from the bond proposal. That tally will cover about $31 million in deferred maintenance at the library that sees about 2,600 people a day.
In Minnesota, Hennepin County Library officials have budgeted $12 million for renovations at the Eden Prairie Library that are tentatively set for September 2018 through the spring of 2019. New features planned for the library include a living room space, an interactive early literacy area, a larger teen area with flexible space for gaming and a meeting and maker space. There are also plans for easily accessible outdoor spaces with seating equipped with power. Renovations include interior repainting, cleaning the brick work, fixing rust on the front entrance, landscaping changes and upgrades to the wireless internet.
Taxpayers will decide this November whether to fund as much as $18.6 million in upgrades to the Salem Public Library in Oregon. A new shelving system for the library will have an estimated cost of $1.25 million. The current shelves likely won’t survive an earthquake and can’t be repaired or retrofitted up to current standards. Other building improvements will include the library’s security camera system for an estimated $188,000. Around 1.4 million could improve the library’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the restrooms, parking lot and facility entrance.
In New Hampshire, there are plans to renovate the historic Peterborough Town Library at a cost of $8.5 million. The plan includes demolition of library additions built in 1957 and 1978, replacing those with a state-of-the-art structure to give the library 17,000 square feet — making it more of a community space. The project also includes restoration of the historic 1892 library building, which includes stripping the white paint from the brick in the interior and restoring the fireplace. Library officials are requesting to add $3 million of the funding to a bond to the 2018 Town Meeting warrant. If the bond gets on the ballot and passes, officials expect to begin construction in August of 2018, around the same time the Main Street bridge construction is expected to take place.
This fall, New Jersey voters will decide on a ballot question that proposes issuing $125 million in debt to help fund library projects throughout the state. A recent survey of public libraries in New Jersey revealed a need for technology updates, and more than 50 percent said they would need to expand facilities to keep up with demand. If the bond sale does win support at the ballot box this year, it would create the first significant pot of money for New Jersey library projects since lawmakers signed off on a $45 million grant program nearly 20 years ago.