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Local Election

Geneva library hosts 1st community forum on $21.8M referendum

GENEVA – Pat Baron, a resident of the Geneva Public Library District, said she is sold on the idea that the library needs a new, up-to-date building.

Baron and a handful of other district residents attended the first of three community forums March 14 on the $21.8 million referendum April 4 to build a new library on the site of the former Sixth Street school. The bonds would be paid in 20 years.

“So far it’s interesting,” Baron said, as residents rotated from different stations, each addressing a different aspect of the proposal – from finances to architecture to physical needs.

“I came to ask questions and look at the plans. They have been very methodical in their planning, not rushed,” Baron said. “They obviously need a bigger facility.”

Library board President Bob Shiffler said library officials held focus groups, assessed the current building and services, looked at 21st century library norms and peer libraries before they decided to go to referendum.

“We came to several conclusions,” Shiffler said. “We are only providing about 85 percent of services that we should be providing in a 21st century library. And the reason for this is because of the space in this current building.”

When the library installed a Middle Ground area for middle school students and an adult Collaboration Zone, Shiffler said they had to remove two rows of bookshelves in a trade-off.

Library board member Patricia Lord said other, newer libraries have several private study rooms to offer, while Geneva has two.

While other libraries offer whole rooms to patrons for digitizing services, Geneva’s library offers a cart for its patrons, Library Director Christine Lazaris said.

District resident Becky Holzhauer said she came to the forum to learn what to say to stand up to those who are against the referendum – especially the $100 more in taxes per year it would cost a taxpayer with a home valued at $300,000.

“What better way to spend the money for Geneva?” Holzhauer said. “This is a legacy project. This grows our community in ways we cannot in our current building.”

Additional forums will be held at 7 p.m. March 14 and at 10 a.m. March 18 at the library, 127 James St., Geneva.

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