Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you decide to move the library and keep the current building for other community uses?
The library board made the decision to move the library after very serious and extensive deliberations. We learned from prior approaches, conducted research and evaluated all options. Because we are entrusted with the long-term future of the library, we decided that the renovations required to improve the current building and the size and location of its site didn’t indicate that to be in the best overall interest of the community.
The current library space continues to face significant challenges, magnified by growth in attendance at our programs, the number of items and services available and general use over the last few years. Many of these challenges could not ALL be solved by a redesign of the current building – including parking, accessibility and simply the size of the building and parcel of land, although they can be improved. The numerous trade-offs, in the short and long term, associated with either renovating or building new were carefully considered.
Are my taxes going to go up because of a new library?
The library will launch a capital campaign to raise private funds and various grants for moving to a new location. Just like for the school district, there’s a difference in a capital project’s costs and in the costs to run the library’s operations. Because the library’s needs for additional space are significant, designing and building that space for maximum operational efficiencies is important to contain future costs.
An increase in public funding will likely be requested at some point in the future as the library’s operational costs for things like personnel, utilities and collections get more expensive over time. This is true regardless of where the library is located. Public funding, first provided in 2016, has been a game changer for the library, allowing for expanded hours, services/programs and collections. The library currently supplements public funding with fundraising and income from investments to cover its annual operating budget.
How will you fund a new building?
We will seek grant funding through various foundations and government agencies, but expect that the majority of funds will need to come from a broad spectrum of small, medium and large private donations.
What do you plan to do with the current building?
In September 2019, after careful financial analysis and deliberations, the library board passed a unanimous resolution to retain ownership of the current building regardless of whether the library renovates or relocates. After the library moves to a new site, the building will continue to be occupied by the Barrow Art Gallery. Additional community and library uses that complement the Barrow are being explored to ensure the economic viability of keeping the current historic building and its ambiance. For example, year around sales of used books and the addition of a not-for-profit tenant, who will maintain or increase foot traffic to the building, would provide downtown and community benefits. A combination of such uses is projected to cover costs to retain and maintain the property.
What will happen to the Barrow Art Gallery?
As the library board of trustees is also the board for the Barrow Art Gallery, we are fully committed to a successful future for both entities. Yet, the Gallery is its own nonprofit entity with its own needs.
Like the library, the Gallery has been operating under significant space and accessibility constraints that limit display, work and storage space. This makes expanding hours of operation, offering programs and growing revenue challenging. Unlike the library, the Gallery receives no public funding.
The Barrow is also in need of its own accessible street entrance. Having the opportunity to expand into space currently occupied by the library with its period-appropriate architecture is a lower cost way for the Gallery to gain space and grow programs and revenue. The board truly believes the Gallery is a “hidden gem” and is committed to seeing it flourish well into the future.
What about renovating the old Austin Arena?
We looked at approximately 20 sites in and around the village and were particularly interested in sites that are close to centers of activity (e.g., schools, downtown including the Fennell Street corridor, the YMCA and Austin Park) while offering easy access for all of the school district’s 9,000 residents.
Many factors contributed to 75 Fennell Street rising to the top of our list, such as lot size, location and zoning. Because Austin Park is zoned municipal parkland, converting any site within it to another use would involve significant legal costs and a lengthy process requiring legislation enacted by the State Legislature and approved by the Governor. Additionally, the Town Board is committed to maintaining Austin Park’s green space.
What criteria did you use to evaluate sites? What sites have you looked at?
A list of the full criteria is available here.
I think it’s great what you’re doing. The library needs to expand to keep up with current and future needs. How can I help?
We would love to have your input and help! There are many ways to assist. Please contact us at 315-685-5135 and ask for library director Nickie Marquis. You can also email us at email@example.com.
I really don’t use the library. Aren’t libraries irrelevant and outdated? No one reads print books anymore.
This is a common misconception. Use of our library has continued to grow every year, both in the number of people attending programs and people checking out books and many other items. Some people do prefer to check out ebooks from us, but print books are by far the most heavily used. This is true for all ages, but especially for kids and teens.
Libraries have evolved to be places for people to meet, work, study and engage – as well as places to get books, movies, documentaries and more. Your neighbors use the library to help their young children become academically and socially ready for kindergarten. Seniors visit for social interaction and to continue learning. Your friends want to use library spaces and amenities to attend meetings/events and to meet with others.
We also help people learn to access and navigate the digital world. You personally may not use the library, but your community does. And given all the changes that have occurred at the library in the last few years, you may not be aware of all the free digital access and services your library provides. The library serves as an equalizer in an era where digital access is increasingly necessary for all ages and socioeconomic groups; it can also be a great place for people from all walks of life to interact.
The library is a resource for all of us, just like the school district. You may not have kids in school, but it’s a benefit to all of us to have a strong school system. The same is true for the library. If it’s been a while since you’ve checked us out, we hope you’ll stop by or visit our website. We’re always adding new resources!