Several people showed up at the Longmont City Council’s study session Tuesday night to show their support for the city’s public library.
“We’re at a tipping point,” Maria Karagianis said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “If we don’t do something now, in 10, 20, 30 years, we’re going to have a real problem.”
The city hired Kimberly Bolan and Associates in 2019 to complete phase one of the library feasibility study and commissioned Sieger Consulting to finish phase two last year.
The Council received an update on the feasibility study Tuesday night.
KBA collected feedback from residents about the library at in-person meetings and through a survey and determined that “while the community values the library’s resources, programs and services, overall funding for the library is deficient and does not allow for growth,” a city staff report said.
The staff report went on to say the library has a “significant need for more space.”
The Longmont Public Library opened at its current location, 409 Fourth Ave. next to the Civic Center, in 1993, and although the city’s population has grown considerably over the last three decades, its library has not.
In 1990, Longmont’s population was 51,524.
By 2020, the city’s population had increased to 98,885, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Although still ongoing, the second phase of the feasibility study has pointed out how the 51,000-square-foot Longmont Public Library was “sized to accommodate a population of up to 68,000 residents” and likely did not take into account the need for computer space or its “significant population of (unhoused) people.”
“It is embarrassing to see those numbers,” Councilmember Susie Hidalgo-Fahring said of the library’s funding stats. “Our libraries, our museums, our parks — those are all those free services that really serve as the great equalizer for building equity in our communities.”
This year, the library has a total annual budget of $4,380,346 with approximately $4.3 million coming out of the city’s general fund and roughly $96,000 from the library services fund.
The city’s total budget for 2022 amounts to $391,770,717.
According to Longmont Public Library Director Nancy Kerr, the library typically counts around 600,000 visits per year.
“Because the budgeting is set by the City Council, you have not demonstrated that funding the library is a priority,” Longmont resident Warren Wang said. “If it is to survive into the future, City Council needs to provide better support for the library.”
In her “whole time” on the Council, Mayor Joan Peck said she rarely heard from library representatives about funding needs.
“As a council, if you don’t tell us what you want funding for in the budgeting process, we’re assuming you’re good,” Peck said. “I don’t want this feasibility study to go out and look like this council and city doesn’t care about the library.”
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