Study shows need for library expansion

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Churchill County commissioners learned from a presentation at their last meeting on Nov. 20 that library usage is up, according to a study recommending future expansion of the facility that was built in 1967.

Ruth Metz of Ruth Metz Associates said the Churchill County Library has been increasing in customer service and transactions and a report the Churchill County Library sent to the Nevada State Library and Archive shows the increases. The Nevada State Library also funded a grant for the study.

Metz said the study focused on key areas such as the need for expansion, the size of the expansion and funding ideas. Based on the county’s population, Metz said the library is undersized for the number of people it serves.

“There’s a high need and demand,” she said.

Currently, the library and its parking area in front consist of about 22,000 square feet. Metz’s study recommends doubling the size of the existing facility by constructing another 9,200-square-foot addition and improving the exterior space. The project would also remove the annex building. The design considerations Metz took into account included the mission, community, flexibility, technology driven and good value for the dollar.

“Roughly, everything is crammed into that existing space,” she said of the current library.

Metz said the library addition would include a reading commons that would house the adult collection, a small-to-large number of rooms and a multipurpose room for groups or presentations. Additionally, she said the expansion would include a 4,200-square-foot exterior plaza for programs and community events.

“We’re essentially doubling the space,” she said, noting the land north of the library is county-owned.

Metz said the expansion cost, if started in 2019, would range from $6.7 million to $11.4 million. As for funding, she said the residents and county would have to come together.

“How do we make this happen?” she rhetorically asked.

Metz showed a template other areas have used. About 75 percent would come from the county in the form of grants or developer fees, about 20 percent from foundation or grant money, and the rest based on individual gifts, local fundraisers and requests. She said the final percentages would depend on how financing unfolds.

Commissioner Bus Scharmann asked Library Director Carol Lloyd about current use and repurposing of the building that was completed in 2015. Since the repurposing project, she said library usage has jumped. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, she said the library offered 566 programs attended by almost 13,000 people.

Scharmann questioned the amount of open space presented in the proposal. Lloyd said the library is a central meeting place not only for adults but also students, especially the middle school students who attend school across the street.

“It’s how to serve kids who have no other place to go,” she said.

Scharmann asked Lloyd if the score services is changing because of the internet. Lloyd said even with the internet and repurposing the library is seeing increases and is keeping up with the changes.

Both Lloyd and the commissioners agreed repurposing the building has been good. During the repurposing project, construction crews replaced the shelving for the books, placed glazing on windows to make them energy efficient, installed new lighting, installed new carpet and repainted, reorganized spaces for a better flow and removed the glass wall to the computer room.

Lloyd and Metz said the proposal is a place to start in considering any type of future expansion, which could be years into the future.

“This is a long-range plan,” Commissioner Carl Erquiaga said. “You’re at capacity with the numbers in the building and more people out there which could use the services.”

Erquiaga said he doesn’t have a problem justifying the expansion but justifying the money.

“It’s good to get this on the list and start planning,” Scharmann added.

In other agenda items:

The Bureau of Land Management, Carson District’s Stillwater Field Office gave an update on the agency’s projects. Field Manager Ken Collum said a horse gather will begin Dec. 4 in the Desatoya Range and last for 9 to 10 days.

Collum also said special positions with the BLM are being assigned to state offices around the West because of reorganization.

Commissioners approved support to the Hero After School Program for $1,000 to be used for Churchill Area regional Transportation tickets.

Commissioners received a report on Churchill Economic Development Authority projects. They learned that this year has been good for capital investments through small business development, the land for a new food hub in the city has been secured and a recent survey indicated affordable housing could be a major challenge in Churchill County.


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