Johnstown Library prepares to move forward

Johnstown Public Library Director Erica Wing speaks about her facility becoming a school district public library to the Johnstown Common Council Monday night at City Hall. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Common Council last week learned about the June 5 public vote to change the Johnstown Public Library into a school district public library.

Library Director Erica Wing told the council at City Hall that the Greater Johnstown School District will conduct the vote from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day.

“The school district will be running the election for us at the library,” she said.

But she said the district’s involvement if the vote is positive will be very minimal afterwards.

“We have our proposition ready to go,” Wing said. “We think it is worthwhile for the community,”

If approved, school district residents will fund the new library operation with a separate vote on the school budget ballot day. The school district’s only responsibility would be to disperse the library’s funding to it.

Wing said the city is currently providing $275,000 this year for the library, but the funding has become tenuous. She said the city funds 75 percent of the library budget. If the proposition is approved, she said the facility will begin with a $396,528 funding stream to work with.

“The past few years have been difficult,” Wing said. “We know we can’t continue this way.”

Wing said the Johnstown Public Library has about 73,000 visits per year, with 77,000 items borrowed. She said the total annual value of library programs and services is estimated at $1.6 million.

But Wing noted there are certain items the library won’t have anymore with the change. She said the facility won’t have maintenance through the city, and the library will have to take on retirement insurance costs. She said the vote would result in city residents paying about 70 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation toward the library.

“We’re hoping to grow and become an even better place for our community,” Wing said.

She said the hope is to have more adult programs and materials available to library patrons.

If the June 5 vote is disapproved, Wing said the library will probably have to close. She said staff time and programs would be reduced to an unacceptable limit.

“The next thing we are doing is educating the public,” Wing said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Kerry Minor

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