Library hopes to stir passion for kids addition

By Corene Brisendine

The Manhattan Public Library kicked off its public campaign Thursday to raise $800,000 for an expansion of the children’s wing at the library. The campaign began at Purple Power Play on Poyntz.

“The majority of it is running from now through the first couple weeks of November,” said Gina Swenson, administrative secretary for the library.

Library officials say the $800,000 they hope to raise through donations is about one-third the cost of construction. John Pecoraro, assistant director of the library,  said they hope to borrow the remaining two-thirds from the city and pay it back through their taxing authority.

The construction would include a second floor shell that could in the future be used as an addition to the library’s public space.

The library has already received pledges and donations of $300,000 . “We hope to have the one-third by November,” Pecoraro said. “And we are well on our way to meeting that goal and deadline.”

He said during the pep rally on Poyntz that the library’s goal Thursday wasn’t so much to collect donations but to generate public support, “although we won’t turn any donations down.”

He said the children’s book circulation has increased in 2011. He also said the library is seeing increases this year as well. From 2010 to 2011 he said the circulation increased about 7 percent. This year the overall circulation of all library books looks to increase 6 or 7 percent.

Pecoraro said that on a national level, increasing circulation is “not the norm.” Most libraries, he said,  are seeing decreases in circulation,  so he said the expansion project and the continuing increase in circulation is very good.

Due to the consistent increase in circulation, the library has decided to double the size of the children’s section and add an enclosed garden for an expanded “story time” section. Pecoraro said the expansions will be to the north and south sides of the children’s area, which is on the east side of the structure. The south addition will push out toward the parking lot, but not reduce parking. The north side will take up most of the lawn facing Poyntz.

Pecoraro said south side parking “will probably go to where the sidewalk is now.”

Should the library fall short of reaching its goal, officials would have to seek help from the city for the shortfall. Pecoraro said by statute the library is not allowed to take out any loans, but the city would have to be their lender, paying the city back through taxes.

If all goes well with the bidding, fundraising, and contracting; Pecoraro said they should begin construction in the spring.

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