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Will residents back St. Charles library expansion?
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/21/2010 3:41 PM

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The St. Charles Public Library will welcome residents Sunday to the first of three public meetings designed to answer questions about expansion, and measure local support for a tax increase in November.

The meeting will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Huntley Meeting Room at the library, 1 S. Sixth St. Architects, library staff and library board members will be on hand to answer any questions about the pending library expansion.

The library staff and board believe an expansion is needed to address a growing population and its increased usage of the facility. Circulation at the library skyrocketed 333 percent in the past 20 years while the number of registered library members sprouted an additional 58 percent. The expansion would double the size of the library and create a new parking lot across the street.

The actual cost of the expansion remains fluid since plans continue to evolve with community input. The location of the children's room and refreshment area have moved in the latest version of the plan to reflect what residents told the library it would like to see in the last set of forums on the expansion. The layout of the new parking area has also changed to provide better access.

The early estimate on the cost of expansion is about $35 million.

"We will make a decision whether or not to go to referendum based on the comments we receive now," said Diana Brown, the library's executive director. "We really do encourage people to come and ask questions."

If asking questions isn't enough, the library is also seeking someone to fill a vacant spot on the library board created by the recent death of board member John Slusser. Applications will be accepted to fill the slot until May 28.

The library board must decide no later than August whether to put a referendum question on the November ballot.