Editor’s note: If you live in Charleston County SC, you need to go to at least one of these meetings if not all of them to show your support for the Charleston County Public Library system – now and into the future. You won’t hear me say this often – but $100 million dollars is peanuts compared to other projects being funded – yet serve so few people. The libraries in this community serve all the people – rich, middle-class, poor, and homeless – of all ages. If Charleston can cough up $100 million to fix the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium the way it should have been to begin with – it surely can give the same amount of funding to expand and renovate our libraries. So read the official press release about these meetings – then participate. And artists remember – the libraries present art exhibits in several of its branches. Don’t let some small minded people teabag this project.
Charleston County Public Library in Charleston County, SC, Will Conduct Community Meetings to Explain Library Construction/Renovation Proposal
Charleston County voters will consider a proposal this November, 2014, to fund the renovation of existing library branches and construction of new ones, a question last on the ballot 28 years ago.
To help voters understand the proposal and what it means for their neighborhoods, Charleston County Public Library is holding a series of 10 community meetings throughout the county between March 31 and April 21, 2014.
The building plan is a result of two years of study that included community input, a detailed survey of the library’s existing 16 branches, research into library service and technology trends plus a review of population and demographic changes since the last library referendum in 1986. Approved by 76 percent of the voters at the time, that referendum included funds to construct four regional libraries – Mt. Pleasant, Dorchester Road, St. Andrews and Otranto Road – plus expanding or constructing a new Main Library.
The current proposal calls for constructing four new buildings, renovating 12 existing branches and moving library support services out of the Main Library to free up that space for public use. Estimated cost to construct, renovate and relocate the 17 buildings is $103.8 million, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 owner-occupied home a maximum of $12 annually.
In January, Charleston County Council agreed to put the building referendum on this November’s ballot. The proposal came after the library completed a Strategic Plan that determined the library’s buildings and services fall far behind services provided in other areas and are below standards established by the S.C. State Library for public libraries in the state. As a result, county and library staff worked with architects and engineers to do a detailed analysis of all library facilities to determine what buildings can be renovated, where new buildings should be located, what technology updates are needed and develop estimated costs.
Now that the analysis is complete, it is being presented to area residents during a series of community meetings to gather input. County Council hopes to finalize the proposal and the wording for the ballot in early summer.
If approved by voters, officials estimate the four new libraries could open by late 2017 or early 2018. The renovation of existing branches would be staggered, with most of it completed in 2018-2019.
Studies looking at library services and buildings determined shortcomings in several areas, including the need for updated buildings, technology and the ability to provide more modernized services. Since the 1986 referendum, the county’s population has grown 27 percent while the library’s circulation soared by 289 percent in the same period. Current circulation is nearly 3.4 million items annually. Additionally, the library offered nearly 6,000 free programs, classes, exhibits, concerts and similar programs last year, attracting more than 166,000 residents.
In a comparison to public library standards adopted by the S.C. State Library, CCPL fell far below the standards in multiple categories. For instance, the standards say libraries should have 1.25 square feet of public space per capita. Locally, that would equal more than 450,000 square feet of libraries to serve local residents, but CCPL’s 16 branches have 155,458 square feet or about .43 square feet per resident. In the area of technology, the state says libraries should have three public computers per 1,000 residents or more than 1,000 locally. CCPL has .9 public computers or 349 public computers.
For a complete list of Community Meetings, a map showing the construction/renovation proposal and a breakdown of the estimated costs, visit the library’s web site at (www.ccpl.org). Residents unable to attend one of the community meetings can send their comments by e-mail to (firstname.lastname@example.org).