- Our Children Need a New Library- with a larger children’s area, a librarian trained in children’s learning needs and a child-appropriate computer area.
- Our Teens Need a Place to Go- after school to study and research their classroom work.
- Our Seniors Need More Services- for outreach and access to computer resources, especially for those who need financial and instructional help.
- The Lyons Area Needs a Community Center- the new library won’t be “just a library”; it will have community center features currently lacking in the area.
- The Town of Lyons Can’t Afford to Build or Run a Modern Library- funding the Library District would relieve the Town of a $100,000 annual budget item—an amount that doesn’t provide for an adequate library.
- The Current Library is Too Small- at 1,100 square feet, it’s less than 25% of the size of libraries in comparable communities.
- The Depot Building Will Be Preserved- the plan includes designing a new, modern structure around the historic Depot Building, preserving it as part of the overall facility.
- More Services- the core objective of modern libraries is to serve their communities. Limited Town of Lyons funds don’t provide enough services or staff to meet the public’s needs.
- Good for Business- libraries are proven economic stimulators, and the Lyons business community strongly supports a new library/resource center. It will provide a place for visitors to print boarding passes and use office equipment like copies, printers, faxes.
- Another Step Forward- a new library/resource center would be a tangible symbol of the effort to “Make Lyons Even Better” in the flood recovery process.
By Sara Pike, Lyons Teacher & Parent
This November, measure 4C will be on the ballot to determine whether or not the Lyons Depot Library will become part of a regional library district. For undecided voters, or those who think improvement to the Lyons Library is a low priority need, I’d like to shed light on a few reasons why I support this measure.
Pre-flood, the Lyons Depot Library was the sole source of literature for many children and young adults in our small town. In fact, the library supplied 80% of Lyons K-12 English language learners high quality, engaging literature throughout the summer of 2013. This was achieved by offering 3 different ‘open house’ book exchanges at which the library was present, as well as three book distribution events to student homes. In many cases, the Lyons Depot Library offered the only source of literature for children whose parents do not drive or cannot commute to a library in a neighboring community. The library served a real and important purpose for these local families who are an integral part of our community, and whom we care deeply about.
Last September’s flood was a serious blow to the diversity of our beloved community. As the town struggles to find ways to offer affordable housing and services, passing this ballot initiative could facilitate the restoration of an important basic resource. Not everyone has internet access, individual computers or the know-how to access the internet, particularly for educational tools. Measure 4C meets these needs. Children of limited income families are especially impacted. The choice not to fund the library effort, brings Lyons one step closer to being unaffordable. Supporting the library initiative is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to economic diversity within our community.
As a member of the Lyons community, I wish to express my hope that you will consider the Lyons Depot Library as a winning, functional, valuable investment. It plays an integral role in our community, very sorely missed since the September flood.
One small check on ballot measure 4C, one giant leap for Lyons!
By Mark Browning
If you see canvassers walking around Lyons streets this weekend with handouts, it may not be religious literature or get-rich-quick schemes. It’s more likely to be volunteers trying to “Get Out The Vote” for Ballot Issue 4C, the upcoming vote on a new library and community resource center. Ballots will be mailed out around October 15.
A “Heart of Lyons” political issue committee has been formed, as Colorado law requires, to support for Issue 4C, which would create a 5.85-mill property tax to fund the Lyons Regional Library District. How much tax would be paid depends on property values, as shown by a chart in the FAQ section of the Heart of Lyons website: www.theheartoflyons.org. For a $400,000 house, the tax would be about $4 per week, or $186 annually.
The proposed tax level was set based upon a review of similar Colorado library districts, which have an average tax rate of 5.90 mills. Lyons’ proposed rate is slightly lower than average due to a planned capital campaign (if Issue 4C passes) to be started with a $250,000 matching pledge from a local donor. That, plus grants from foundations, would lower the amount needing to be covered by taxes.
The Lyons Library District extends beyond Town limits and covers roughly the area of the Lyons Fire Protection District, plus the Cemex area. The District’s total tax value is more than twice the Town’s, spreading the tax burden over a much larger base.
In addition to a modern library, the proposed new facility would include “community center” features identified as desirable in a Lyons-area survey done in 2012. Those features include meeting rooms, art exhibit space, an expanded children’s area, teen study/gathering space, upgraded computers and databases, and performance space. The size and scope of features will depend partly on results of the capital campaign and grant applications.
The Library District board has designated the current Depot site as the “preferred location” for the new facility unless a better location becomes available. The historic Depot building would be preserved Architects advised that a new facility can be designed around the 600 square-foot historic part of the Depot. The Depot sits on a 28,000 square-foot lot, with the new building projected to be between 6,000 – 7,000 square feet.
The Town of Lyons and Library District have entered into an Inter-Governmental Agreement to lease the Depot site to the District for 50 years at $1 per year, plus allow same-block parking on the Town-owned RTD lot. The Town spends approximately $100,000 per year on the library, plus overhead. Those expenses would transfer to the District if Issue 4C passes.
By Jennifer White, Lyons Teacher & Parent
On a trip to Gustavus, Alaska, I found myself at the town library for story hour. In a town of 500, story hour was an event to look forward to. We went to the newly renovated library, where the kids were divided into two groups depending on age, and listened to local park rangers read a few books. After the books were read, the kids were escorted to another room for an art project with the older kids helping the younger ones. Once the project had concluded the kids moved to yet another room where they spent some time learning new chords on the donated Ukuleles and singing songs. The afternoon ended with the kids and adults outside tending to the community garden and chatting about recent happenings.
Throughout my stay in Gus, I realized how often people talked about various meetings and gatherings happening at their library. It seemed they had community events almost daily, including a weekly music jam.
When I returned from Alaska I joined the Library Advisory Board to become more involved in the efforts to grow our town’s library. I thought about Lyons and the endless possibilities for our Library, however, I knew at this point our library couldn’t possibly support these types of activities. For one it isn’t big enough nor does the Town have enough funding for additional paid staff.
As a teacher and a parent in this community my hope is that with more involvement and a vote to fund the new library district, we can grow our library to be more like the one in Gustavus and other small towns here in Colorado, with a variety of reading programs for kids of all ages, more access to information and an inviting space for community members to come together. Libraries/community centers are important in many ways, but in a small town like ours they are critical to community life.
The Heart of Lyons website (www.theheartoflyons.org) has a Library and Community Resource Center page with information on what a new library/resource center would look like for Lyons and how we can get there. A vote will be held in November on funding a new facility. Please help improve our Lyons library!
(This article is one of a series on issues relating to a new library/community resource center for the Lyons area. A vote to fund the Lyons Regional Library District is set for Nov. 4.)
Among questions asked about a new Lyons library/community resource center are these:
- How much will it cost?
- Can we afford it?
- Are libraries really worth the money?
This article answers those questions and focuses on the economics of a new library/community resource center. For more details, see www.theheartoflyons.org.
First, how much will a new “library” cost?
That depends on what features a new “library” includes. Most new “libraries” include community center features, as is envisioned in Lyons. As post-flood community gatherings showed (consistent with pre-flood public input), Lyons has a dire shortage of adequate meeting spaces. Lyons has almost no public computer access, with only one computer in the current library’s cramped space. A new facility would have expanded computer resources, including free access and training for seniors and low-income families.
The current library has no after-school gathering space for teens, and only a small amount of children’s program space. There is no art exhibit space, or performance space. A new facility would be designed to include such things.
So what would all that cost? New libraries with community center features in similar-sized Colorado towns have cost from $2.1 to $3.0 million, varying in size from 4,600 to 7,000 square feet. Annual operating costs are $250,000 – $300,000.
A new Lyons facility would likely fall in the upper part of those ranges, given inflation and the features area residents have said they want. There’s no way around it: quality facilities and services do cost money.
“You get what you pay for” is apt, both positively and negatively. Right now, Lyons spends about $100,000 a year on its library, with little for building upkeep or improvement – as the Depot building’s poor condition reflects. Other communities with new library/resource centers (Nederland, Dolores and Mancos, for example) consider their money well-spent, with high library use and satisfaction.
So, can we afford it?
Building and operating a new library will require several funding sources. Other library districts have consistently obtained foundation grants. Additionally, a local family has pledged $250,000 as matching funds for a capital campaign, to be launched this fall if voters approve District tax funding. Those two funding sources can reduce the tax amount needed.
Further, big cost savings can be realized by using the Town-owned Depot site (designated as the new library “preferred site”) and adjoining parking lot (the Town-owned “RTD lot”).
But to be clear: tax funding is essential to make a new library feasible. Without a stable tax base, there is no ability to obtain a long-term, low-interest USDA construction loan.
Similar-size library districts have an average annual tax levy of 5.90 mills. (Nederland, the newest and closest comparable library, is at 6.60 mills.) The LRLD’s proposed tax rate is 5.85 mills – slightly below average, but enough to yield about $370,000 per year, covering basic operations and debt service. That’s about $12 per month for a $300,000 house.
Other communities have been able to afford similar projects, and without the advantages Lyons has like a low-cost, parking-included site and an up-front matching pledge. Lyons can do the same.
Another “affordability” item bears brief mention. The budget-strapped Town would free up $100,000 per year for other uses (such as infrastructure) if library operations go to the Library District with its much larger tax base.
Finally, are libraries worth the money?
The Lyons Economic Development Commission, Town Board and Chamber of Commerce provided major impetus for the “new library” project, believing modern libraries to be local economic stimulators.
Is that right? Numerous studies say “yes.” The studies, collected under “Resources” on www.theheartoflyons.org , document economic benefits: enhanced “workplace literacy”, small business database resources, higher property values, money spent by visitors, increased community attractiveness as a business location. That doesn’t include indirect benefits like children’s learning programs that improve local schools or the value of meeting space for businesses.
Those are Lyons’ “library economics”. The “people aspects” – moving the community forward together on an exciting new project – are just as important. Those will be explored in future articles.
We are starting anew with a fresh perspective on life, renewal and courage.
We will be posting updates on the Library initiative soon.