Friday, July 11, 2008

Towns join forces for new Upper Providence library

What a novel concept! A NEW library branch...


A new library branch in Upper Providence is the subject of active talks among three municipalities, although Limerick officials have signaled they can't afford to contribute.

Kathleen Arnold-Yerger, executive director of the Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library, said the proposal is "very preliminary."

A new 10,000- to 15,000-square foot branch would be situated in Upper Providence, although an exact location hasn't been selected.

Arnold-Yerger said a growing population along the Route 422 corridor will need an expanding library system to serve its needs during the coming years.

There are library branches in Royersford, Schwenksville, Red Hill and Conshohocken - all of which are under the Norristown Public Library's management.

Officials from Royersford, Limerick and Upper Providence met several times in recent months to discuss the possibility of partnering together on an additional library.
At a recent Limerick Township Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairwoman Elaine DeWan said she would "love to see a library."

"I have major concerns. We have so many things on our plates right now," DeWan said.
Limerick Supervisor Ken Sperring Jr., said the township doesn't have funds to support this joint effort. That point was echoed by Supervisor David Kane.
Limerick contributes $1 to the Montgomery County-Norristown Pubic Library for each resident because the township lacks its own library.

If a new branch were to come to fruition, Norristown would provide staffing, computers, books and other materials, according to Arnold-Yerger. Each branch carries a 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation and is responsible for fund raising, she said.

The three municipalities would likely pay for utilities, maintenance and some other items. Although no agreement is final, the municipalities would likely contribute proportionately to their populations.

Royersford Borough Manager Mike Leonard did not specifically endorse the additional library and said talks are preliminary. Upper Providence Manager George Waterman did not respond to a request for comment.

Arnold-Yerger is pleased to see the municipalities at least talking, and didn't expect anything concrete for a couple of years.

Julie Mullin, a Spring-Ford Area School Board member and Upper Providence resident, has a child entering kindergarten and two sixth-graders.

"I don't see how an extra library could be a bad thing," she said. "Royersford is such a tight-knit area, they wouldn't want to lose (the current library)."
The Royersford branch is approximately 6,000 square feet and is located in the 200 block of Fourth Avenue.

Throughout Montgomery County, there are 35 independent libraries, the Norristown executive director said. New construction for libraries of that size can be expensive. In Horsham, for example, an independent library cost between $5 million and $6 million, in addition to $700,000 in annual maintenance.

"We're trying to offer a branch, so they don't have to put in those types of dollars," Arnold-Yerger said.

In 2008, Montgomery County allocated $2,485,000 to public libraries, a 3.5 percent increase over last year. Pennsylvania's Legislature earmarked close to $76 million in library subsidies last year.


Anonymous said...

The library needs to get a new contract from the schoolboard that will guarantee the same funding as it has under the agreement with the Carnagie people.

Build a satellite and problem solved.

Anonymous said...

I do agree that the contract with the school board needs to be guaranteed because if they don't they would lose 48% of the funding. How they do that I'm not sure. The other issue was if we build a new building in the borough who will the taxes fall upon? I really enjoy the library in town as I walk my kids and go to the programs but I understand the turmoil for those that live on that block and was at the planning meeting. The problem with satellite campuses is that for me as a Mom, I go and get a book for myself and bring the kids for their program so it becomes a destination of sorts for not only getting a book but socialization and culture. Believe me I realize how upsetting it was for the older folks that have lived here for so long as I have only been here for 9 years and have been considered a novice of sorts in town. I don't know what the solution is but the town is growing and I'm proud to live here, we do need to move forward and make this a progressive cultural destination so I hope things pan out for the library somehow and no more attacks... we are all neighbors, lets keep on talking and find a solution.