Two years ago an oversized and overpriced new library was rejected by voters. So the Library Committee went back to the drawing board and reduced the size by 10%. One would expect the original $18.4 M price tag to drop to something like $16M. Instead, the price has RISEN to a staggering $24 - $26 M. This is while, construction costs have been rising 2.2% per year.
In addition, the project’s advocates claim that the cost of merely repairing the present library without making any major changes has doubled from $6.4 million in 2011 to $12.8 million today – an increase of 100% in only two years.
This new library was designed using state guidelines before the digital revolution. These mobile devices let commuters read their morning newspaper on their cell phones and grade school students to do their homework on their IPads. The state’s grant prescribes the size of the building. It’s a warehouse for paper books. Digital books now compose 23% of all books sold by major publishers. They occupy no shelf space. In San Antonio, Texas last week, a public library opened which contains no paper books; the collection is entirely electronic.
If digital books had been considered in the new proposal’s design, a smaller, less expensive project could have been offered to the voters. Instead, voters are being asked to raise their taxes during a prolonged recession in order to build a library that will meet the needs of the last century.
Shrewsbury for Responsible Taxation