By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD—The project to build a new public library and community center is more than halfway to its funding goal of $4 million in private donations. Thus far the campaign has raised about $2.3 million in donations.
The City Council has allotted $3 million for the library and community center, approving the funds as part of what it defines as a “generational project,” Library Director Lori Belongia said. A project like this is undertaken once in a generation and should be able to serve the Marshfield area for 30 years and potentially much longer.
Between the city’s contributions and money raised in donations, $7 million is needed to break ground on construction of the new library.
The plans for the new library and community center include cutting edge technology such as video editing equipment, a children’s story time room and an enhanced children’s library.
According to Belongia the current library does not meet the needs of the community from a technology standpoint.
“I feel it’s inadequate for where technology is right now. We are hamstrung by the fact that there are outlets in only certain places. Part of the building is built on a slab. We have that lovely open ceiling. There is only so much you can do to bring power into certain places or to do the cabling, and that’s part of it,” Belongia said.
The community center will be designed in part to create more meeting room spaces, which Belongia said has been a big demand item and something the current library lacks.
Belongia hopes people will feel proud of the new building when it is completed and feel it is a place where everyone belongs.
“This is their library. I want everybody to say, ‘This is my library, and I’m proud of it,’ and all the wonderful things that they can do, and it supports them in whatever their endeavors, whether it has to do with their work or some personal interest or just for fun,” Belongia said.
One of the obstacles in creating momentum for the new library and community center has been sentiment from some in the community that libraries are not needed. Belongia described a misconception about what libraries are and can represent for citizens.
“The biggest [misconception] is that everybody’s going to have everything they need in the palm of their hand in some kind of device, that we don’t need libraries. It’s kind of a misconception of what libraries are,” Belongia said. “They assume we’re all about books and just about books, and for my entire career as a librarian or as a kid that was putting books on the shelf, libraries had more than just books. We will continue to have whatever the next format or device of interest is going to be so that all people have access to that.”
Belongia said there has also been some concern from residents that the money allotted by the City Council will be paid for by increasing taxes.
“The dollar amount was set by the council because that was what their financial advisors told them. That would be an amount they could borrow without having an impact on the tax rate. If there are increases in your tax rate, it isn’t because of this,” she said.
When construction begins the current library will continue to function until the new building is set to open. The plans call for the new library and community center to open in 2016.
To donate to the campaign, visit the project’s website at http://mplcc.marshfieldlibrary.org/.