At the Provo City Library dedication ceremony it was said, "The library staff made a silk purse out of a sow's ear at the old library, but this library is a silk purse."
Now, just two years later, the fine threads holding that purse together are starting to unravel.The library, 425 W. Center, is too small. Its 27,840 square feet are not being used well. It has acoustic and accessibility problems. There aren't enough books for a city of 86,000 people.
A recent study of the Provo library by The Architectural Coalition Inc., suggests short- to long-term solutions to the problems. The study also looks at how to handle increased demands coinciding with anticipated growth in the city.
Tom Martin, Provo chief administrative officer, presented those "functional obstacles" and ways to get around them to the library board Wednesday. They all cost money.
The city administration Wednesday last week talked about a property-tax increase and public-approved bond to pay for stitching up the silk purse.
Mayor Joe Jenkins will propose next month that the city council raise property tax to put more books on the shelves. Ray-lene Ireland, administrative assistant to the mayor, said the city won't know how much the increase request will be until the county sets the certified tax rate.
City Budget Officer Keith Haslem said the city is hoping to raise $100,000 annually through a property tax increase. That would mean an estimated increase of $4 a year on an $80,000 home, he said.
An immediate remedy to relocate the children's section, Project Read and technical services within the building will close the books on $180,000 left in a city fund for one-time projects. Martin said shifting areas will make better use of the current space.The intermediate plan to add 22,620 square feet to the building will cost about $2 million. That's why Martin brought up the word that makes everyone flinch: bond.
The study did not estimate costs for the long-range proposal to buy and build another 20,000 square feet on new property to the west should it come available.
Martin suggested the library board move ahead with remodeling now and hold a bond election for expansion in four or five years.
"I really even hate to think about another bond issue," said board member Terry Ann Harward.
A $1.5 million bond approved by voters in November 1987 and $600,000 in grants and donations got the current library built. Although architecturally pleasing, the building was functionally inadequate the day it opened. It is operating at 60 percent of the required space for current needs of a city the size of Provo, the study says.
Board members agreed that it's too early to talk about bonding, but board Chariman Larry Bluth said Martin's suggestion "makes sense." The board also agreed that something has to be done now and in the future.
To take care of current functional problems, the study proposed moving the children's section from the second level to the first. That would also alleviate the noise problem that exists by having the section next to the adult services area. Project Read would move from the lower floor to the upper and technical services to the northwest corner of the upper floor.
The board did not have a quorum Wednesday and took no action on any of the proposals.
Taxes may rise
To raise $100,000 a year for library improvements, the property tax would have to increase about $4 annually on an $80,000 home.