The Great Falls Public Library’s building is 54 years old. Director Susie McIntyre says it needs some love and is time for renovations. It needs about $15 million worth of love, according to a recent strategic review, and the ideas are detailed in the library’s master plan, which covers many different renovations for the library.
Nothing is final at this point, but they have been working with a consulting firm through private donations and the Great Falls Public Library Foundation to come up with a plan.
She says the upgrades are important for the downtown and city’s communities.
“It’s really a road map to the future of how we can maintain this building and deliver the services our community needs,” McIntyre said.
She also emphasized feedback and sourcing of the funds, which she doesn’t want to go to voters. “The things we heard back from the community on what they want from their library are exciting. We’re not talking about going to the taxpayers to pay for it. We want to do it through grants and donations.”
One of those plans is to repurpose the space they use and get the most out of it. One example is the kids’ space, which is about 2,500 square feet. With renovations, it would be nearly quadrupled to about 10,000 square feet.
McIntyre also said they found that the library is underfunded and understaffed and they’re looking to increase their annual budget from 1.5 million dollars to 2.5 million.
McIntyre added the library is funded at around $21 per capita, while the state average is around $31 per capita. They aren’t planning on putting out a levy to raise money from taxpayers, but it might be considered as they continue discussion with city and county officials to determine the best course of action.
“We’re really excited to work with our community on this,” Library Foundation executive director Jill Baker said. “I think our community deserves a beautiful, vibrant library. I think our community could really benefit from enhancing the library. We want it to be a place where everyone is welcome, where you don’t have to make a purchase, where you can just come, hang out, or do the work you need to do.”
Click here to see the library master plan (PDF).