Our opinion: City’s support of Library expansion paramount to healthy community

Published 5:21 pm Friday, October 7, 2022

There were a couple of surprises during Monday night’s City Council work session.

The first, was when it was revealed that Austin Public Library remodel was $1 million over initial estimates and while city and library officials knew it probably would be, that much over brought some sticker shock along with it.

The second, and much more optimistic and positive surprise was the City Council agreeing unanimously to push $700,000 toward closing the gap between what the library had on hand, around $892,000, and baseline estimate of $1.6 million.

Granted, the library will have to pay back $100,000 of the money to the library, likely resulting in more fundraising or dipping into some funds from a donor gifted to the library in 1996.

Either way, it’s far better than going back to the drawing board and reducing the scope of the project. More than that though, any restart would likely lead to an even higher price tag as the nation continues to cope with the effects of inflation.

This confidence in the project strengthens the library’s role as a community center, where its resources are open to the public.

Over and over again, the Austin Public Library has been an avenue for people to work, to be entertained by its programs or simply find a good book to read.

More importantly, it’s a place for the community to come together in one place. To meet people, to interact with people and be part of a broader world.

These renovations will improve this capability of the library to offer services and fellowship by simply walking in the door and experiencing what the library has to offer.