Maury Loontjens Memorial Library Building Project
Frequently Asked Questions:
Will there be a Referendum Bond Question on the November Election Ballot?
Yes: On April 4, 2016, the Narragansett Town Council approved the placement of a Bond Referendum on the November ballot to benefit the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library in Narragansett. This event culminated a project that began years earlier, when the Library Board began investigating options to expand and improve the physical space of the current building.
Why Do We Need a New Library?
The current building has many violations regarding ADA requirements and meets the Fire Code restrictions only through regularly turning away patrons from programs held at the Library. The 2nd floor is unusable space because it does not meet even minimal building code requirements. The Children’s Room has no bathrooms (a major safety consideration), and the room is filled to the brim with no space for more materials or computers. And while our staff does an excellent job, we cannot continue to call on them to move furniture on a daily basis to reconfigure rooms to show movies and have lectures.
In short, we need more room. We need space that will allow us to grow and serve the community with more technology and programming for today, and into the future.
Have there been any reports to demonstrate the need for a new building?
In 2012, the MLM Library commissioned a study through the Town of Narragansett’s Bid policies. The lowest bid was awarded to Patience Jackson, a certified Library Consultant. She examined the current library, assessed our needs, and drew up a preliminary plan for a new library building. Since that time, the Board and Town Staff have examined various alternatives in Narragansett for obtaining the needed space.
Where Will the New Library Be Located?
After a comprehensive examination of all alternatives, the best choice was determined to be the vacant supermarket space in the Pier Marketplace. Town staff and Library representatives have had discussions with the Gilbane Corporation, which owns the space, about obtaining this building for a town Library.
It is from these discussions, as well as advice from various building experts in the community who offered their professional opinions, from which our numbers and proposal is derived. If we get an approval from the voters in November, we will move forward to purchase the former Belmont Supermarket space from Gilbane. We, the town, will own the building, the land under it, and 59 parking spaces.
What Will The New Building Cost and Who Will Pay for It?
The 5.8 MM bond referendum represents the price to purchase the building, and to outfit it and furnish it as a library. The cost to the Town, however, could be considerably less. The State of RI provides Grant–in-Aid for the construction and capital improvement for any library to improve free library service to the public. Up to 50% of eligible costs may be reimbursed through this program. (Typically towns receive funding between 40% and 50%). All funding must be in place for the State to sign this contract with the Town, hence the bonding of all 5.8 million. Then the State will reimburse the Town over a 20 year period, starting one year after completion. Priority is given to libraries who have never used this Fund – Narragansett is one of three in the state that have never applied.
Also, there are many Grants and Foundations that will fund libraries in a building program – Tiverton received $750,000 from one foundation alone - so it is not overly optimistic that we will be able to raise at least 1MM or more this way: further reducing the town taxpayer’s contribution. Private fundraising will begin after we get voter approval, and while we cannot quantify the dollar amounts of the gifts from the Narragansett community, we are sure the people of the town will support our fundraising efforts; and this will also pay down the bond.
Finally, if the Town decides to sell our current building, (perhaps a small grocer would move in to serve the Pier) we should be able to apply more than $1M from that sale to the purchase of the new spot, however Town Officials have to make the decision to either sell the building or keep it for the Town's future use.
Libraries aren't as important in this new age of technology, Why should the voters support this project?
The Library in Narragansett serves all in the community. Mothers bring preschoolers to storytime and introduce a lifetime love of learning. Middle school and high school students come with private tutors to cover difficult material. URI students seek out the library for a quiet space during exams. Last year alone, more than 400 programs were offered – author meetings, environmental presentations, historical and archeological lectures and screening of new release movies. Many clubs in Narragansett use the meeting rooms to organize community events. All of these functions are offered to every member of the public at no fee. The Library has moved beyond its traditional role. Currently, Narragansett Library Card Holders (OSL cards) can download Free EBooks from the Library website to devices (such as a tablet, Nook or Kindle) from the privacy and convenience of their home. If you do not have such a device yet, you can try one out by borrowing a Nook with preloaded books at the Library. If you do not have a CD player, but like audio books, the Library lends the MP3 players with downloaded audio books. Our newest tech addition is the lending of Hot Spots. If you need to set up a temporary WIFI zone in your house due to an outage or you have a long car ride, the Library will lend a fee-free HotSpot to cardholders. In the future, we look forward to even more technology. Many libraries today have rooms dedicated as Maker Space. These rooms have new technology that may be cost prohibitive for the public to purchase, but reasonable for a community library in a sharing economy. 3D printers are very popular for libraries, as are video editing software and filmmaking equipment. The Maker Space would be receptive to the requests of the community and aware of new technology as it becomes available. New technology in the library requires increased physical space for storage and use of the equipment. The Narragansett community values the Library and ranked it 3rd in importance in a town wide survey. Patrons, community leaders and residents have showed a strong preference to keep the Library in the neighborhood of the Pier, but bemoaned the lack of sufficient parking. Our move “across the parking lot” will more than double our current physical space, give us 59 parking spaces, and revitalize the Narragansett downtown.
How can I Support the Future of The Maury Loontjens Memorial Library?
· Vote in the November Election and Say YES to the library bond question
· Attend future fundraisers and events
· Like our Facebook page and share our posts