Utah's colleges and universities will begin down a long road to new and improved libraries if the Legislature approves $300,000 for planning in the upcoming fiscal year.

A study has identified almost $60 million in construction and upgrading needs for the nine institutions - a figure that will rise to $74 million with inflation, site-specific costs and other added expenses, a legislative interim committee was told Wednesday. Ultimately, bonding may be necessary to complete the long-range library plans, said Cecelia Foxley, associate commissioner for higher education.The Education Committee heard a report that identifies library needs at the institutions as a leading priority for the immediate future. Salt Lake Community College, with an estimated $6.8 million in library construction needs, heads the priority list established by the commission.

Others, in order, are Utah Valley Community College, Utah State University, Dixie College, University of Utah, Southern Utah State College, College of Eastern Utah, Snow College and Weber State College.

Neil Stowe, director of the Division of Facilities Construction and Management said the request tops the division's budget priority list.