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Public library takes next step in expansion process

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Trustees approve to spend up to $15K for feasibility study

By Meaghan Downs

For library board trustees, planning for the future of the Anderson Public Library includes spending up to $15,000 to conduct a feasibility study.
The library board voted unanimously to select Lexington architecture firm Brandstetter Carroll Inc. to start work on a feasibility study, with trustees signing off on spending up to $15,000 on the study.
The feasibility study would include preliminary drawings, construction cost estimates, building program, a site plan and a floor plan as well as other information that would lay design groundwork to start construction if trustees ultimately choose to move forward with an expansion.
Board president Bryan Proctor said he’d rather have vision and move forward than to move the library backward, and that a feasibility study would help.
Proctor said Library Director Pam Mullins’ monthly reports on new library patrons shows that the library is experiencing growth, and a feasibility study would not mean that the library board was immediately putting money in the pockets of architects to start construction.
“I think [library growth in number of patrons] paints an image for library users that we’re not just standing here, stagnant,” Proctor said.
Board member Jane Scott Bentley said she thought a feasibility study was a good idea and voiced her concerns about the lack of space for patrons during programs held at the library, especially children’s activities.
“If the fire marshal came, we could be in some serious trouble,” Bentley said.
Although in favor of the feasibility study, Bentley said the board probably would need to wait until the lawsuit brought against the library was resolved.
Anderson County taxpayers, following the lead of similar lawsuits filed in northern Kentucky and across the state, sued the library earlier this year alleging that the Anderson Public Library did not follow state law in setting its tax rate.
Board member Rachel Dockal asked fellow trustees and Mullins if the board would be locked into working with Brandsetter Carroll Inc. in the future; Mullins assured Dockal that wouldn’t be the case and that the board can end its relationship with the firm at the feasibility study stage if it wishes.
“I think the feasibility study is a good idea,” Dockal said. “It’s a significant amount of money, but it’s money that would be well repaid if we can see how this will go over, show us how we can best utilize it and augment it.”
Architects Mike Carroll and Monica Sumner gave a presentation to the library board during the board’s June meeting and presented a preliminary sketch including two large additions of 1,000 square feet each, the relocation of the library’s history room and modifications to the circulation desk and children’s area.
During the June meeting, Carroll told the library board that the firm’s preliminary fee to work with his firm could be negotiated, but that preliminary work (which includes cost estimates, building program, site plan, floor plan, and other building plan information) typically costs about $10,000-15,000.
Director Mullins disclosed to the board that she worked with architect Monica Sumner for several years in planning a building project for the Richmond library where Mullins was previously employed.  
The library did not take any action regarding potential construction during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Trustees create advisory board   
The library board, in an effort to receive informal advice and support from library users, is seeking community participants for its newly created advisory board.  
Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to form an advisory board that would have a voice, but no vote, in how the library conducts its business.
Board president Bryan Proctor, who first brought up the idea of instituting an advisory board during the library board’s July meeting, said he wanted recruit members from the community who could act as “cheerleaders” for the library and have the best interests of the library at heart.
Although Proctor said he appreciates those who voice their opinions during public comment forums at meetings, but he would like the advisory board to be people who can stand up and speak for the board as well as the library.
“The negative sometimes gets highlighted,” Proctor said of public comment sessions, “and it’s not the positive.”
Mullins said advisory board members could receive a board meeting packet just as trustees do, and be able to participate in board meetings. Advisory board members would not be able to vote.
“This is an unofficial body,” Mullins said to board members, “and you’re free to constitute it however you’d like.”
Trustees voted to establish the advisory board, but did not vote on any specific guidelines of how the advisory board would be set up or how members would be appointed.
According to KRS 61.805, any board, council or advisory committee created by the library board would be subject to the same open meetings laws and regulations as the library board itself.
Proctor closed the discussion by encouraging fellow trustees to inquire by word of mouth about community interest in serving as members on an advisory board.  

Library to close temporarily
for computer, furniture upgrades
The library will be closed between Oct. 1 and mid-November so that the library can upgrade its computer software and install new space-saving furniture, following a unanimous vote of the library board.
Trustees gave Library Director Pam Mullins the go-ahead to close the library for one business day to take care of the computer upgrades and switch out old library furniture for the new tables.