Library board working on path to 2016 referendum

The difference between the Jasper Library Board of 2011 that conceived of the plan for a library on South Newton and the Jasper Public Library Board that has decided to pursue the Hoosier Desk site is unity

Whereas two divided factions stepped out of the meeting in which a unanimous vote decided to seek the taxpayers’ approval to build on South Newton, this board stepped out of a split vote on the Hoosier Desk site with plans to move forward together.

By the way, the vote in September was solely on whether to pursue the Hoosier Desk site or to pursue the current library site. Although several options have been considered in making the decision, ultimately, those plans have yet to be determined.

Frankly, with a plan that could involve working with the Jasper Community Arts Commission and the City of Jasper, the upcoming election in which five positions are up for grabs will have to be hurdled before any clear consensus is reached on whether the city will be involved.

In the meantime, however, the library board is finalizing the application for the industrial recovery tax credits to ensure they will receive them for the site. A special meeting is planned for October 29 at 6 p.m. in the Library Annex to finalize some amendments to that application.

In the original application for the tax credits worth about 25 percent of the cost of the project, the board indicated it planned on demolishing the building and building new on the site. However, the potential plans with the city include repurposing any portions of the existing building that can be rsaved, so an amendment to the application is needed.

The board will also need to collect letters from supporters for the plan to go into the package that will be considered for final approval by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation in December.

Back to the unity.

During the meeting Monday night, the board met with a special political action committee named EveryLibrary. The meeting with the organization’s CEO John Chrastka was held over Skype.

Based in Chicago, EveryLibary is a national organization that helps public, school, and college libraries win bonding, tax, and advisory referendums. According to the nonprofit’s website, they provide tactical and operational support to local voter awareness campaigns, seed and sustaining monies to local ballot committees and PACs.

According to Chrastka, the group can assist in training and coaching the library staff and board to help with their campaign for the Hoosier Desk site.

The library has provided its plans to the group for consideration. If EveryLibrary decides to work with the Jasper Public Library, it will provide those services on a pro bono basis except for any expenses (travel) the group incurs.

According to Chrastka, the nonprofit is supported by individual and corporate donors to provide its services and since its inception, it has assisted 22 libraries in achieving their financial goals.

The board likely won’t need help from EveryLibrary until early next year.

In other business, the board heard that board member Bill Hewitt would be moving to Evansville soon. He told the board he had accepted an offer on his house in Jasper, and he and his wife had made an offer for a home in Evansville.

Library attorney Bill Shaneyfelt recommended that with the upcoming decisions the board was facing, the sooner a replacement could be appointed, the better.

Hewitt is a Greater Jasper Consolidated School Board appointee and anyone interested in the position should contact the school corporation at 812-482-1801 or Dubois County Contractual Library Director Christine Golden at 812-482-2712 to be considered.