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New Tiverton Library FAQ

Tiverton residents will and should have many questions as they decide whether to support the expansion of library services.  Below, you will find answers to many of those questions. 

 

Need
  1. Why do we need a new library?
  2. Though Tiverton needs a new library, why don't we wait for the economy to recover before we add to the tax burden?
Location
  1. If a larger building is necessary, why don't we add to the Essex Library?
  2. Why not convert one of the closed school buildings to a library?
  3. Land near the middle and high schools and one of the elementary schools is available at no cost from the Stone Bridge Fire District. Why wasn't that site chosen for the New Library?
Library Size
  1. Why do we need a library of this size?
  2. Using the Internet, we can now get of information without going to the library. Doesn't that mean that a smaller building can do the job?
  3. There is a lot of space devoted to children and teens. Doesn't this duplicate what is available in the schools and the school libraries?
Features
  1. A large multi-purpose meeting room may be important for Tiverton, but wouldn't that create a security issue for the library if it were used for after-hours meetings?
  2. Will there be after-school programs for the students in the new library?
  3. Will there be space for art exhibits and other displays?
  4. Will there be space for historic documents?
Cost
  1. How much will the New Library cost?
  2. How can the Town of Tiverton afford to pay that much?
  3. Why is a town bond referendum needed? Why will the bond be for $7 million if the cost to Tiverton is less than $3 million?
  4. What will the impact of the Town Bond be on Tiverton property taxes?
  5. How can we be sure that Tiverton will not have to pay for the entire $7 million library bond?
  6. Why is the referendum on a town bond being held in November 2011? Couldn't this wait for state and national voting in November 2012 and save the cost of a special referendum?
  7. The funding plan depends on a successful Capital Campaign. What makes you think that donors will give that much?
  8. Will a larger library be more expensive to maintain?
  9. Will a larger library require a much larger staff?
  10. When will a new library open?
Plans for Essex and Union Libraries
  1. What will happen to the Essex Library building when there is a New Library?
  2. What will happen to the Union Library when the new building replaces the Essex Library?
  3. What would happen to the Union Library if a new library is not built?

 

Need

1. Why do we need a new library? A: The State of Rhode Island's Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) informed the Town of Tiverton over ten years ago that the Essex Library does not meet facility standards required by the State. Specifically, the Essex Library does not offer adequate space to implement a full range of library services, does not comply with all Federal, State and local fire and other codes for public buildings, does not offer access to restroom facilities for handicapped persons, and does not offer public meeting space for use by community groups. If these standards are not met, the Town will lose over $90,000 a year in support from the State, access to interlibrary lending services, catalogue access, access to on-line databases, and support of internet services. As a result, Tiverton residents would no longer have library services. Because of these deficiencies, the Governor's Commission on Disabilities has informed us that Essex Library may no longer be used for open public meetings.

The new library will also meet real Town needs. It will be a vital resource for economic development; a safe, secure gathering place for teens and children; a location for community groups to meet; and much more.
2. Though Tiverton needs a new library, why don't we wait for the economy to recover before we add to the tax burden? A: In order for Tiverton Library Services to receive any State support, OLIS must issue a waiver that depends upon progress toward a new facility. Moreover, there will be an increase in construction costs and interest rates - now at historically low levels--so that the project will become more expensive if there is a delay.

Location

1. If a larger building is necessary, why don't we add to the Essex Library? A: Engineering studies have determined that the Essex Library is built on a granite ledge and the necessary blasting to construct an addition would be prohibitively expensive. In addition, the two-acre site is too small to support necessary parking and septic system needs for an enlarged library. Two professional consultants have made recommendations, based on federal, state and local library and building guidelines, that a minimum of five acres is needed for a New Library that will serve Tiverton's population. Moreover, the State Library Construction Reimbursement that is essential for funding the new library requires that the building be on a suitable site.

New construction is the ONLY way to meet these requirements and continue library services in Tiverton.
2. Why not convert one of the closed school buildings to a library? A: Like the Essex site, neither Old Ranger Elementary School nor Nonquit Elementary School sites meets the requirements for a New Library. Further, these schools were not built to the weight standards necessary for a library. Unless the New Library is built on a site that meets Rhode Island OLIS requirements and architectural standards, Tiverton will not receive OLIS Library Construction Reimbursement. This would mean that another source would have to be found to replace the $4.1 million this program will provide. 3. Land near the middle and high schools and one of the elementary schools is available at no cost from the Stone Bridge Fire District. Why wasn't that site chosen for the New Library? A: This land is isolated from the main traffic patterns in Tiverton and would have limited access during parts of the day because of school bus traffic. It is a less suitable location — on a dead end street away from community activity — than the one that was chosen. The Bliss Four Corners site was obtained at no cost to the Town through federal and private grants that were specifically designated for site purchase.

The Building Committee evaluated over 20 different land parcels over a 10-year period, and the purchased site was by far the most suitable for the New Library. There is town water, adequate space for parking, a septic system, and possible expansion in the future; the site is at the junction of Bulgarmarsh Road and Stafford Road (Highways 81 and 177), two highly traveled main roads that provide easy access for all Tiverton residents; and it is near the Sandywoods Farm development, a Town recreation area, and the High School, the Middle School and an Elementary School. It is also adjacent to a section of town that is seeing growth of both residential and commercial activity.

Library Size

1. Why do we need a library of this size? A: Tiverton's population has grown since the Essex Library was built in 1939, and plans for the 23,886 square foot New Library were based on State standards for Rhode Island libraries. The ratio of building size to population is similar to that of the other libraries constructed in New England towns of this size during the past 10 years. 2. Using the Internet, we can now get of information without going to the library. Doesn't that mean that a smaller building can do the job? A: Today, libraries are about much more than just books and information. A modern, small-town library provides meeting space for community groups, organizations and businesses; children's and teen programs; adult and senior citizens' programs; and audio and video resources. Moreover, these programs must be in a building that provides access for the handicapped and that meets Federal, State and local fire and other codes for public buildings.

Modern libraries recognize that the role of the Internet has grown, which is why they provide free access to individuals who do not have a computer or broadband connection at home. In addition, librarians provide essential help to patrons in how to use computers to access information. The New Library will have space for many more computers and it will have a room for instruction in the effective use of computers and electronic media.

Surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that Internet use has actually increased library circulation of books and other materials.
3. There is a lot of space devoted to children and teens. Doesn't this duplicate what is available in the schools and the school libraries? A: The New Library will have many programs that are not available in schools. In addition a public library is open when school libraries are closed after school, on Saturdays, and during vacation periods. Modern libraries work with schools to enhance the curriculum. For example, they put specific books on reserve at the request of teachers, assist students with research, and provide space for homework, after-school programs and study groups.

Features

1. A large multi-purpose meeting room may be important for Tiverton, but wouldn't that create a security issue for the library if it were used for after-hours meetings? A: OLIS standards require that "a library have public meeting space available for its programming and for use by community groups." The building is designed so that three of the meeting rooms, including the main auditorium, can be easily separated from the rest of the library after hours. This area is entered through the main entrance and includes restrooms, a coatroom and a small kitchenette. A locked door will separate this area from the rest of the library to insure security when the meeting rooms are used outside of regular library hours. 2. Will there be after-school programs for the students in the new library? A: Yes. The Children's and Teen's Sections were specifically designed to support a variety of after-school programs and to provide space for children doing homework. 3. Will there be space for art exhibits and other displays? A: Yes, there will be three such areas, one in the main auditorium, one just inside the main entrance and one by the Children's Section. 4. Will there be space for historic documents? A: There will be a climate-controlled archives room to safeguard fragile documents and artifacts that convey Tiverton's rich history from pre-Colonial times to the present. The adjacent study room will provide access to these materials by researchers and the public. In the future, it is envisioned that digital versions of materials in this local history collection will be available locally and throughout the world through the Internet.

Cost

1. How much will the New Library cost? A: The total project cost, including site purchase and preparation, is expected to be $11 to $12 million, based on professional estimates that were obtained in July 2010. The exact cost will not be known until we receive bids for construction. This phase of the project occurs after funds to build the New Library are assured, and after the architect has prepared Construction Documents. 2. How can the Town of Tiverton afford to pay that much? A: The Town will not be asked to pay the major cost of the New Library. We project that the Town would contribute only 25% of the total cost of the New Library based on the following anticipated sources of funds:
Capital Campaign
(As of August 1, 2011, over $ 1,250,000 has been received in pledges and donations.)
$2-3 million
Federal and Foundation Grants
(As of August 1, 2011, over $700,000 has been received, some of which was provided by the Rhode Island Foundation and the Newport County Fund for planning studies. Upon approval of a Town bond referendum, another foundation will commit $750,000.)
$1.5-2.5 million
Library Construction Reimbursement from the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services
$4-4.2 million
Town of Tiverton
$2.5-2.9 million
The agreement of Tiverton residents to fund a $7 million Town Bond will be sought in a Special Referendum held on November 8, 2011. 3. Why is a town bond referendum needed? Why will the bond be for $7 million if the cost to Tiverton is less than $3 million? A: The bond referendum will request approval by Tiverton voters for the town to issue up to $7 million in notes and bonds to construct and equip a new library. In order to meet the OLIS Library Construction Reimbursement program requirement that all necessary funds are available before construction is begun, the Town must have the authority to borrow both the amount that will be the Town's responsibility and the amount that will be provided by the OLIS Library Construction Reimbursement program. OLIS will sign a contract with the town that will pay Tiverton up to 50% of eligible construction and furnishings costs, an estimated $4.1 million. This contract will bind the state to yearly payments to Tiverton of $205,000 plus the interest on the state portion of the Town Bond. Thus, less than $3 million of the bonded debt will be paid from town funds. 4. What will the impact of the Town Bond be on Tiverton property taxes? A: Our best information at this time indicates that the Town's responsibility for borrowing to build a new library will add $220,000/year to the Town's budget for 20 years, starting in FY 2012-2013. According to the Town Manager, this would increase the real estate tax by less than $31/year for the average Tiverton home assessed at $308,000 - the cost of one hardcover or three paperback books. Properties assessed at $100,000 would see a $10 increase in their real estate tax due to the cost of a new library, while properties assessed at $750,000 would pay an additional $75/year. 5. How can we be sure that Tiverton will not have to pay for the entire $7 million library bond? A: The bond referendum will be held in November 2011. The borrowing authorized by a successful referendum vote will only occur after the Town has signed a Library Construction Reimbursement contract with OLIS. Once the contract is signed, Tiverton is assured that when construction is complete it will receive 1/20 of the construction grant each year for 20 years, plus interest costs. This contract is based on the provisions of Section 29-6-6 of the Rhode Island General Laws, and is in no way similar to the funds towns receive through grants-in-aid for programs subject to General Assembly appropriations. Thus, there is no possibility that Tiverton would be forced to repay the entire $7 million bond from town taxes. It will not borrow to build a new library until a contract has been signed that binds the state to the reimbursement payments. 6. Why is the referendum on a town bond being held in November 2011? Couldn't this wait for state and national voting in November 2012 and save the cost of a special referendum? A: The Town needs a New Library NOW. Essex does not meet federal, state and local building standards and programs are severely limited by space constraints. The preliminary architectural plans have been approved, and if sufficient funds have been identified from private, state and federal sources, it would not be in the Town's best interests to delay a year simply to avoid a special referendum. Many of the grants sought for the New Library are contingent upon the scheduling and/or success of the referendum, and a significant delay could put them at risk. Moreover, construction costs and interest rates are at historically low levels, and construction industry forecasts indicate that early 2012 is an optimal time to seek bids for library construction. 7. The funding plan depends on a successful Capital Campaign. What makes you think that donors will give that much? A: The Tiverton Library Foundation, the 501(3) c non-profit organization that is seeking tax-deductible donations to the New Library Project, commissioned a Fiscal Feasibility Study in 2009. Daniel R. Barry & Associates, after conducting a series of interviews with Tiverton residents, including potential donors, recommended that "a Capital Campaign be initiated to raise $2-$3 million." They also reported "strong positive support for passage of a Bond Referendum."

The Capital Campaign Leadership Committee was formed in December 2010, and the campaign has raised over $1,250,000 in the first seven months of 2011. Most pledges to the Capital Campaign will be paid over a five-year period.
8. Will a larger library be more expensive to maintain? A: Yes and no. Total maintenance costs for a larger building are typically higher than maintenance costs for a smaller building. However, the new library will not require costly, unanticipated repairs and maintenance associated with the 73 year old Essex Library. Further, energy-efficient heating and cooling in the new library will reduce energy costs/square foot by 63%, when compared to energy costs for the Essex Library. Our architects, Donald Powers Architects, are at the forefront in designing energy efficient buildings. The new Tiverton Library will be the first public library in Rhode Island to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards, demonstrating a commitment to preserving the environment as well as saving money. 9. Will a larger library require a much larger staff? A: The New Library has been designed with sight lines and room usage that will allow it to be efficiently supervised by the same size staff as Essex. The one-floor design will increase staff efficiency, as will the much-improved organization of the Library resources. Moreover, the current staff will be able to provide enhanced programs and services in the New Library. Because 80% of the library operational budget is committed to personnel costs, keeping the staffing level unchanged will keep the increase in operating costs for the new library under 10%. 10. When will a new library open? A: If the library bond is approved by the November 8, 2011 referendum, design work can resume immediately and it is expected that construction can begin in the fall of 2012. This would permit the new library to be completed by the spring of 2014.

Plans for Essex and Union Libraries

1. What will happen to the Essex Library building when there is a New Library? A: The Essex Library is a Town building and the Town will determine its future use. The Trustees recognize that its location near Town Hall makes it well suited for town offices. 2. What will happen to the Union Library when the new building replaces the Essex Library? A: The Trustees have voted to continue service at Union Library. 3. What would happen to the Union Library if a new library is not built? A: Unless a new building that meets standards is built to replace Essex, the State will not fund library services to the Town. This would result in the same loss of service to Union as to Essex: a loss of interlibrary loans, computer services, and catalog access to our holdings and those throughout Rhode Island.



Revised: 8/1/2011