Upgrades booked for libraries | PostIndependent.com

Upgrades booked for libraries

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. A person could serve on the Garfield County Public Library District Board for 20 years and never see such exciting times and possibility.It’s that kind of conversation that’s going on after a November 2006 election. Voters granted the library district more funding, financial responsibility and status as its own legal entity. Board president Cheryl Currier said she’d heard that becoming a district has been a 20-year goal of the library board.In wake of the changes, the district is looking at a remodel or reconstruction of each of its six branches in cities from Carbondale to Parachute. However, Currier and business manager Wilma Paddock said it’s still too early to say much about specific plans or time frame for the work. That’s still in the planning phases.”We’re not going to rush out and spend that money before we have really good plans,” Currier said.The district is still gathering information from communities and local governments about its future plans and visions, and how the libraries relate to them. The next step for the district will be to finalize that information into a more concrete plan, and revisit the district’s strategic plan and service priorities. The district has hired Dubberly, Garcia Associates Inc. of Atlanta and Denver to help with that task, budgeting about $72,000 this year on the library consulting firm. The firm will also come up with prototypes for library designs.The firm has helped gather information, will write goals and objectives, will help with training and has completed last year’s annual report, Paddock said.Currier and Paddock did say the Glenwood Springs library branch will not stay in its current location and will be constructed anew due to space issues and lack of parking. The district is looking at partnering with the Friends of the Performing Arts to find a location.The district has also hired Tindall, Jaycox Marketing Inc. to handle print and radio ads, to promote the district’s public image. About $20,000 is budgeted in 2007 for marketing, Paddock said.

Nobody in the system really had an advertising background and the district felt the message about its services wasn’t really reaching people, according to Currier and Paddock.The new Web site has been advertised, including some of its features like listening to audio books online and live homework help for kids in the afternoons. Some money is being saved, and some has been spent on staffing longer and more consistent hours at the library branches. Some has also been spent on purchasing the latest materials and gizmos like “play aways” – books on portable MP3 players that are now at all libraries, according to Paddock.

Last year the district took in $2.97 million from a quarter-cent sales tax. That was 96 percent of the year’s revenue, according to the district’s 2006 report. In the November 2006 election, voters decided the quarter-cent tax would go solely to the library district. Paddock said it’s unclear how much more that will turn out to be, estimating a possible $3.2 million total by the end of 2007. Previously, some of the quarter-cent sales tax was able to go to other county capitol improvement projects such as work on the Garfield County Jail.Voters also decided in the November 2006 election that the library district would get a portion of county property taxes for 20 years to fund capitol improvement projects. The amount for 2008 will become more clear when the county completes assessment Aug. 25. It can’t be projected since the county’s assessed valuation varies and the district hasn’t decided if it will sell bonds or not, which could create interest payments. The amount over 20 years beginning in 2008 would probably be close to $20 million, according to Paddock. The approved amount was one mill per year.That extra cash makes for exciting possibilities.”It’s extremely rare to have money coming in for capitol improvements,” Paddock said. “Usually districts have to fundraise.”

She said the tax was deliberately built to sunset after 20 years because the district plans to have built or remodeled libraries to meet the needs of customers into the future.Paddock and Currier said the election campaign was successful in every precinct largely due to the faithful service of the libraries building up goodwill in the communities every day.”It was very heartwarming to us,” she said.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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