Friday, September 23, 2011

Libraries funded!

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly voted in favor of the library capital funding ordinance, with only one dissenting vote (Natalie Howard). The Noel Wien's roof will be repaired, North Pole will get 50% of the funds it needs to build its new branch library, and the John Trigg Ester Library will receive $35,000 towards its construction. Here's a quote from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's story on the vote:
More than a dozen people, supporting each of the projects, spoke in support of the vote, stressing the importance of libraries not only as a place for books, but as space for the community, Internet access and youth activities.

“One thing about public libraries and community libraries is that they are a great equalizer, they are a great leveler,” said Assemblywoman Nadine Winters, who sponsored the bill with Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins. “In my opinion, having viable, up-to-date libraries says a lot about a community.”
Here is the audio track from the assembly meeting concerning this ordinance.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Support your local libraries!

At the September 22 Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly meeting, several ordinances will be up for public hearing, including Ordinance 2011-20-1K, to provide funds for repairing the Noel Wien Library's roof, replacing the North Pole branch library, and providing a matching grant for the John Trigg Ester Library's building project. All three libraries are in need of these capital grants.

Here's the meeting schedule and text of the ordinances before the public (be warned; it's a 225-page PDF--the borough assembly has a lot of work in front of them!). The library capital funds ordinance is on p. 86. Public comments are scheduled for 7 pm. We are asking library fans and members to show up at the assembly meeting and give your support for these badly needed construction projects. Or, you can e-mail the assembly members if you cannot make it in person.

The Noel Wien Library would receive $2,493,437; the North Pole library would receive $6,220,000 for a new building (something they've been working toward and needing for years); and the Ester library would receive $35,000 in matching funds toward our new building. Thirty-five grand looks pretty dinky compared to millions for the borough libraries, but given that we need only $800,000 to build the entire Ester library, it's a good chunk of the way forward, bringing us to about 15% of our total need—enough to show foundations and other potential funders that we're serious and that both the state and borough are behind us. Our project may feel big to Ester-are residents, but it is very small in comparison to the borough's library projects.

The John Trigg Ester Library's building design will result in very low operating and maintenance costs. As a building incorporating LEED and Passivhaus performance standards, electrical use will be minimal, there will be no need for a furnace or boiler, and the sun will generate electricity and heat for it, with a supplemental masonry heater for ambience and warmth during the dark months of December and January.

Greg Hill, director of the Noel Wien Library, corrected some misapprehensions about the funding sources for the borough library's part of this capital appropriation proposal in his September 14 News-Miner column, At the Library: "Refuting confusion about the Noel Wien Library roof." In it, he explains:
The Noel Wien Library roof leaks. Engineering studies and architectural designs for replacing the roof with a far superior one were completed last fall. Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins energetically and successfully pushed a legislative funding proposal for $6 million to replace the roof and address the library’s other pressing concerns, like the failing plumbing and alarm systems.…the mayor and Assemblywoman Nadine Winters have introduced an ordinance using money dedicated to the borough’s libraries by the Bentley family to build a new library roof for $2.4 million. The ordinance includes money to provide the matching funds to qualify for 50 percent of the construction costs of the proposed North Pole Branch Library under the state’s library construction program. The ordinance appropriates non-Bentley money for the private library in Ester.
The Ester library, not being part of the borough, does not qualify for the Bentley Trust funds, but does fit the requirements for match funds for nonprofits. The borough sets aside money each year to match grants given to area nonprofits, and this ordinance would designate the John Trigg Ester Library as one of this year's recipients of the match funds already set aside for the purpose.

Previous articles in the News-Miner about the problem and Mayor Luke Hopkins and Assemblywoman Nadine Winters' proposed solution are:

Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison is also a co-sponsor. Please thank these people for their support of local libraries!