A new public library is expected to be in full operation by summer or fall of 1991 north of Murray High School, thanks to a long term lease agreement reached last week between library officials and school district representatives.
The project now has to be ratified by the Murray City Council.The new library, a 22,000 square-foot structure, will replace two older buildings, which now hold 84,000 volumes and lack room for new collections. Neither building is accessible for the handicapped.
Library officials said the two facilities were built more than 30 years ago to serve approximately 16,000 people. They say the city's population is now more than 30,000.
"We lack study areas in general," said Murray Public Library Board Chairman Bryan Demann. "We've got people studying and holding conferences in our storage area."
"The library will benefit the city in its entirety," said Board Member Bruce Cutler.
In January of 1989 the council asked Utah State University officials to survey 1,500 Murray households. Approximately 70 percent of those surveyed said they wished to see an improvement in library services.
Demann said the community has also expressed concerns about the present location but said most seem to understand the project will improve services.
The school board approved the leasing agreement on a 4-1 vote after discussion on issues that divided it a month ago over the project.
Board member Sherry Madsen, who voted against the project, said, "I have serious doubts about the proposed location. I'm concerned over the parking facilities but especially about the access to the library once it's built. I'm worried about people coming in through the high school parking lot."
"People here are used to a small library and personal attention. They don't want it to become a `Whitmore Library.' Size scares some people, but we've reassured them service is important to us," Demann said. "Our staff won't change that approach.
Library officials will pay for the project with their own funds and have more than $650,000 saved but can only use $450,000 for construction. Total construction cost is estimated at $1.8 million.
Library officials failed to raise sufficient funds for their project after the Utah Library Association denied their request for a $200,000 grant.
Cutler said the board approved the leasing agreement on the condition additional parking is constructed around the library.
Board member Margaret Nelson said, "My questions had been answered about the concerns I had, but now another entrance to the site will be constructed. That was my main concern."
Murray School District Superintendent Ron Stephens, said, "The most exciting thing about this proj-ect is the extensive cooperation between the city and the school district.
"What excites us about this project is the opportunity for cooperation. It can be a win-win situation for the community and school district.