COLUMBIA — A proposed new library would nearly double the size of the existing Southern Boone County Public Library in Ashland.
The 6,500-square-foot library, which would be built by a private developer on 1.12 acres in downtown Ashland near the middle school on Main Street, will go before the Daniel Boone Regional Library board Thursday for final approval.
Compared to summer 2010, in 2011, the library in Ashland had:
- A 19 percent increase in people borrowing material from the library.
- 22 percent more people using public access computers, mostly to apply for jobs or take classes online.
- A 29 percent increase in the number of people using the library’s free wireless services.
- A 56 percent increase in the number of people attending the family story time.
Information provided by Karen Neely, outreach and Southern Boone County Public Library manager.
The library system would lease the building for $13.50 per square foot a year — the same amount as the existing library at 117 E. Broadway in Ashland that has been leased since August 2000.
The new and larger library would cost $87,750 a year compared to the $45,023 cost to lease the current building in Ashland, Mitzi St. John, a spokeswoman for the library, said in an email.
The lease arrangement means the library can finance the new facility without raising property taxes, St. John said.
The decision to lease came after voters rejected a ballot issue in 2007 that would have increased property taxes to build new libraries in Ashland and near the Boone County Fairgrounds.
"People thought the building was a little too over the top for what they could afford," Bridget Canaday, a member of the Boone County Library District board, said. "But people in the community came to us afterward and said, 'We’ve already been leasing. Why not look for the opportunity to lease something bigger?'"
After asking for proposals, library officials received three offers from local developers and settled on one from McKinney Properties LLC. The location of McKinney’s proposed building was the key factor in the decision, Canaday said.
Gerald McKinney sees the new library his firm hopes to build as more than just a business venture. To him, it’s an important part of the growth of the southern Boone County community.
"There’s more and more development south of Columbia," McKinney said. "We need to make sure we have the infrastructure to provide services for the people who live just outside of Ashland but are still in Boone County."
Elinor Barrett, associate director of Daniel Boone Regional Library, said the library proposal was favorably received in Ashland.
"I have not heard of any opposition," Barrett said.
The new library would provide enough space for dedicated areas where library and community groups can meet, more shelves for library materials and more seats for people to sit while using the library.
"Every person I run into at the grocery store, at ball games and on the street has had nothing but positive things to say," Canaday said.
The new library in Ashland could be open as early as September 2012.