Baldwin Voters here will decide the fate of the Baldwin Library during a special election on Monday.
At stake is a proposal for the city to issue $300,000 in bonds to pay for a new library, which bond issue supporters say is sorely needed because of cramped conditions in the existing library.
If voters approve the bond issue, money would be made available to build a 9,000-square-foot building at the corner of Eighth and High streets.
In that building, 5,000 square feet would be used as a new library and 1,700 square feet would be used as a community room. The remainder of the space would be restrooms, storage and a lobby area. The community room would become part of the library if the library continues to grow.
Kathy Faulkner, library board president, said Monday that the city no longer could tolerate the inadequate, 982-square-foot room that now houses the library, in which patrons must use stepstools to reach books on the 8-foot shelves. Library officials consider the stepstools dangerous for elderly and young library patrons, she said.
EVEN THE state agrees that a town the size of Baldwin needs a larger library, Mrs. Faulkner said.
According to a study conducted by the Kansas Library Assn., Baldwin, which has nearly 3,000 residents, should have a library with a minimum of 2,500 square feet.
The study also states that Baldwin's optimum library size is 5,500 square feet, which is still larger than the one proposed on Monday's ballot.
Of the city's nearly 3,000 residents, nearly 2,500 hold library cards.
"At this point, we'd be happy just to be over the minimum," Mrs. Faulkner said. "This is something that needs to be remedied."
For example, the library currently has 10,500 volumes and adds about 500 volumes each year. At that rate, the library will be completely out of room in just six months, she said.
The library's summer reading program also is proving to be more of a problem each year, she said. With more than 200 children enrolled in the program, the library is barely big enough to hold them all.
THE BALDWIN City Council last year applied for a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant to pay for a new library building, but the grant request was denied. The city since has agreed to allow the special election and to issue the bonds if voters allow.
Although a bond issue has never failed in Baldwin, neither Mrs. Faulkner nor anybody else is predicting the outcome of Monday's election because of local opposition to a new library.
Stan Krysztof, a local resident who opposes the proposal, has been encouraging people to vote against the measure and has placed advertisements in the local newspaper warning residents that the new library would increase local taxes.
However, Krysztof said this morning that he is not opposed to having a new library, but thinks the city is in need of more important items before a library.
"I OPPOSE their priorities," Krysztof said. "We have sewer problems that need to be fixed. That comes before a library. Let's be realistic. Taxes have done nothing but gone up."
Krysztof also doubts that the library's limited budget will be able to keep up with maintenance costs of the building and questions why board members did not buy a local building that could have accommodated the library's needs.
But board members say a feasibility study conducted by an outside company showed the budget to be sufficient to cover costs and say the building they looked at buying was in disrepair and cost too much.
Mrs. Faulkner and Marvin Pratt, a business consultant who has been assisting the library board, agree that local taxes would rise to pay off the bonds, but add that the increase would be minimal and would decrease over years. They also say that state and federal grants are available to pay for infrastructure improvements.
AS BALDWIN continues to grow, the bond obligation would be spread out over more and more people, lessening each person's bond responsibility, they said.
The bond company that would issue the bonds if voters approve the proposal has told library officials that property taxes would increase by about $35 a year at first and then would begin to decrease as the 20-year pay-back period progressed.
Mrs. Faulkner said the new building was needed because the current one is cramped, but added that another important reason for a new library is the demand for one.