Woodstock Library trustees debate replacement timeline

 

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Woodstock Library trustees will kick off a fundraising campaign soon for the next phase of its library expansion project, with the goal of starting the schematic design process by August or September.

The schematic design phase is all-important because it will finally give patrons and the general public access to drawings of how a proposed expanded library will look. Trustees estimate this phase will cost $100,000. The library now has $64,000, which includes a $25,000 commitment from Friends of the Library, leaving $36,000 to raise. Trustees have agreed they won’t use taxpayer funds for this part of the project.

In May, the library will conduct three architectural and programming sessions with stakeholders and send out requests for proposals to architects. By June or July, trustees hope to interview finalists and select an architectural firm. The design phase would begin in August or September.

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According to a timetable presented by the Building A Better Library Committee, cost estimates should come by October, which is when trustees hope they can kick off a massive capital campaign.

As part of the Master Facilities Plan update, the architecture and library planning firm ADG Cohn estimated a teardown and new construction would cost $5.8 million. That number may change once a schematic design is completed.

Trustees opted for a new building and to save a small historic portion that currently houses some staff office space.

Enough public input?

Trustee Jesse Jones isn’t convinced the timetable allows for enough public input, which he feels is important if the voters are going to support a bond issue. “I think we need rich, vigorous community engagement,” Jones said.

Marcus said the board has made it a point to include many voices in the process, including some who were vocally opposed to the decision to build new versus renovate and add on to the existing library.

Trustee Jill Fisher, Building Committee chair, took issue with mention of a vote, as she is confident the library can raise the necessary funds through donations and grants without the need to bond any of it. “I have been advocating for some time that I think we should go for the money and do fundraising, and that is a question we can hold off,” Fisher said, referring to a bond vote. “Every time people say ‘well you’re gonna have to have a vote, you’re gonna have to have a vote,’ you’re assuming that we can’t raise the money, and I’m not ready to assume that. I guess that’s simply what I want to say is I’m not ready to assume that we can’t raise the money to build this building.”

Jones noted most of the community has no impression at all of the trustees.

“They don’t know we exist. These are the people we need,” he said.

Being green with student help

As part of the design phase, Trustee David Lewis, who teaches Environmental Science at Tech Valley High School in Albany, will have his class collaborate on ideas for making a redesigned library a net-zero building. Net-zero structures use roughly the same energy they create on the property through renewable energy sources such as wind or solar.

The students’ work will start this month and they will present their findings to the library in mid-May, Lewis said.

“We thought of making an event of it and inviting people involved with green energy,” library board President Dorothea Marcus said.

Improving tech in the library

Jones announced to the board he is working with Director Jessica Kerr on technology initiatives to provide patrons with modern services.

An effort to digitize archives is underway. He is also exploring laptop computers for patrons to check out and use. 

Now that the library is leasing a combination printer/copier, Jones said he is exploring a 24-hour printing service where patrons can upload files and pick up the printed materials at the library. The new machine also has a scan-to-email capability where documents can be scanned and the image sent to an email address. That is something that could be offered to patrons, he said.

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