News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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August 17, 2011

Future of library branch still undecided

TERRE HAUTE — The future of the West Terre Haute branch of the Vigo County Public Library is still up in the air.

At its meeting Monday night at the main branch building, the library board of directors discussed a proposal from the Vigo County School Corporation to use two rooms at West Vigo Elementary School for a new library branch. The board also discussed other ideas, including rehabilitating the current library branch.

An engineering review of the elementary school location presented at the meeting showed renovations costing at least $66,000 would be needed to convert the space into a library branch. Other renovations and improvements to the site were not included in that cost estimate. Those other renovations would include obtaining a separate heating and cooling system, relocation costs, new furniture costs, new telephone line costs and the costs of a security system.

Some library board members asked about the possibility of renovating the existing library branch, which is at 626 W. National Ave. That branch is not in compliance with Americans with Disabilities regulations, said Nancy Dowell, library director. There also are structural problems with the building, she indicated.

“They are huge,” Dowell said of the ADA shortfalls at the current branch. Some board members said they would be interested in a similar estimate of those renovation costs.

Other properties in West Terre Haute have been presented to the library as possible sites for a new branch, Dowell said. Sister Dorothy Rasche of the Sisters of Providence asked the board to reconsider locating the branch in the daycare facility that is part of the West Vigo Community Center.

Last month, the library board voted to remove the daycare center from consideration. Rasche suggested the library’s “rainy day fund,” which contains about $1.7 million, could pay for renovations at the daycare facility. However, those funds will mostly be needed for replacing the roof at the main branch, Dowell said.

“I know $1.7 million looks like a lot,” Dowell said. “It’s not.”

There is no specific deadline for the library to make a decision about its West Terre Haute branch, Dowell said after the meeting. However, because of ADA considerations, the sooner the library can make a decision regarding that location the better, she said.

Meanwhile, the library board also received 2012 budget information from Dowell. According to figures provided to the board, the library is seeking a 2.9 percent increase in its total budget for the next year. That represents a $191,104 dollar increase from the 2011 budget.

Dowell proposed a 2 percent salary increase for library salaried staff. She also proposed a 25 cents per hour increase for hourly employees. Covering the proposed pay increases would cost $274,000 in the next year, according to figures provided at the meeting.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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