What is the "joint library" feasibility study?
With the libraries in both communities in need of significant investments to maintain and improve their facilities to support significantly increasing current and future usage, the needs of the disabled, and the delivery of 21st century library service, the Library Boards of Fanwood and Scotch Plains began to explore the feasibility of forming an independently chartered joint library to serve both communities.
The Fanwood Borough Council and Scotch Plains Township Council agreed to investigate this option and secured a $149,000 SHARE grant from the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to fund this study which explored several areas:
|benefits of establishing a joint library|
|legalities and costs associated with the formation of a joint library|
|locations for building a new library to serve both communities and the reuse of the existing facilities|
|potential for securing private and public support for building a new library|
I like the Fanwood and Scotch Plains Libraries. What is the advantage of a joint library versus maintaining two independent libraries?
We envision that a joint library for Fanwood and Scotch Plains will provide better and more efficient services with less duplication of cost and effort to benefit the citizens of both communities. A joint library will allow us to extend hours, enlarge our collections, offer more programs for all ages, meeting space and achieve cost savings by creating efficiencies of scale in terms of physical plant operations and maintenance, purchasing and back-room functions that are impossible to achieve on our own.
There are currently only six joint libraries in the State of New Jersey. Each of these communities determined that there was a benefit in combining funding to support a single library because of the economies of scale that could be achieved as well as the improvement in services that could be provided through pooled funding.
Who will make the decision about whether or not the joint library project proceeds?
Ultimately, the decision to form a joint library will be the choice of the residents in both communities. If there is support for establishing a joint library, the question will be put on the ballot at the general election. Residents of both communities would vote on a single referendum question which would dissolve each local library and resolve a new joint library. An affirmative vote in both towns would be required.
What would happen to the Fanwood library building if we build a new joint library?
The project architects have made recommendations for reuse of the building. The Fanwood community will ultimately decide how best to reutilize this valuable municipal resource. We can foresee that the building could be repurposed for other municipal uses or sold to a private developer for reuse.
What happens if we don't build a new library?
Both libraries were built more than 40 years ago and are in need of extensive physical improvements to meet changing standards and accommodate increasing usage. If the communities decide against a joint library, then Fanwood and Scotch Plains will have to make provisions for making these improvements in their own capital budgets. Estimates for these types of repairs and renovations are currently projected to be over $10,000,000
How would this project benefit both communities?
We know from other communities that new libraries increase local property values. People make decisions on where to buy their homes based on the quality of schools, libraries, and other municipal services. A great library improves the quality of life for the entire community and will be a cultural and lifelong learning center for all citizens of both towns as well as a source of civic pride.
Isn't this a bad time to embark on a project like this?
To the contrary, this is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for the future of library service for both communities. Bonding rates are at an all time low - Building costs, both materials and labor, are down - the costs of remaining independent are astonishingly high - in difficult times the demands on library use are much greater and rising all the time.
How was the proposed site chosen?
The original hope was to locate a geographically central location. Numerous sites were considered through the course of the feasibility study and the site of the current Scotch Plains library was always one of the options. Every other site that was examined was either unavailable or presented other problems.
How long would a project like this take and what services will be provide in the interim?
It's estimated that construction and renovation might take approximately two years. During this time services would continue at both current facilities. The Fanwood location would of course remain open throughout the entire process and only during the final phases would there be some brief periods when there would be reduction of service in Scotch Plains.