Austin Public Library pitches $20 million wishlist for 2018 bond

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two days before the overdue, over-budget new Austin Central Library is set to open, KXAN spoke with Facilities Process Manager John Gillum about a $20 million wishlist for the 2018 bond.

The new Central Library cost $125 million after voters originally approved a $90 million bond in 2006.

With so much focus directed to opening the doors of the new Central Library, Gillum says they’ve never forgotten about their network of 20 branch locations. The bottom line? He says serious work is needed on beloved neighborhood branches. We’re talking air conditioning, roof repairs, carpeting and upgrades to bring the facilities into the 21st century.

KXAN asked Gillum whether he thinks voter support is there to dedicate more tax dollars to libraries after the major Central Library opening.

“One thing I will say is the citizens of Austin have always really supported the library system,” he said. “People will show up and say yes, make my library like new again.”

That’s true for senior citizen Lynn Mazzare. “We would support that, ” she said. “We really can’t do without our neighborhood library.”

KXAN met Mazarre at the Old Quarry branch, one of the facilities most in need of repair.

“It’s showing wear and tear and needs, you know, we all need a paint job every now and then,” Mazarre said with a laugh.

Gillum says if you own real estate, you know it will deteriorate and maintenance is required.

“They’re worn out and you have to constantly refurbish them. And yes, we just built a new Central Library to replace one that opened back in 1979 when this was a much smaller city. You know, a lot of people want us to take care of their neighborhood libraries now,” Gillum said. “These are buildings that are loved and used extensively by their communities.”

But just like your home, budgets have limits. So community interest will be key to secure additional funding.

“It’s hard for us to get to a downtown library,” Mazarre said. “It’s just not convenient for us.”

Austin Public Library received $8 million in the 2012 bond. The city says its been designing renovations projects for eight branch libraries that were funded in that bond. Those projects are moving into construction in the next year.Branch Library & Austin History Center Improvements Wish List = $20 million in 2018 Bond

  • Austin History Center (Limited Renovation)

    • $2,000,000
  • Old Quarry Branch Renovation Project

    • $941,000
  • Yarborough Branch Roof Replacement/HVAC Upgrade

    • $1,634,000
  • Willie Mae Kirk Branch Renovation

    • $1,175,000
  • Carver Branch Roof and Mechanical Replacement

    • $1,883,000
  • Manchaca Road Branch Roof Replacement/HVAC Retrofit

    • $2,512,000
  • Hampton Branch at Oak Hill Parking Lot Expansion

    • $826,000
  • Ruiz Branch Roof Replacement

    • $1,571,000
  • Howson Branch HVAC and Controls Upgrade

    • $994,000
  • St. Johns Branch Renovation

    • $2,199,000
  • Spicewood Springs Branch Roof Replacement

    • $1,034,000
  • Little Walnut Creek Branch Roof Replacement/Renovation

    • $2,841,000
  • University Hills Branch Roof Replacement

    • $792,000
  • Cepeda Branch Trail Connection to Govalle Neighborhood

    • $307,000

The Central Library is working to bring in some additional revenue.The library, which will be holding its grand opening on Saturday, is taking reservations for their events spaces and have posted their rental rates online. So far, the Central Library has 25 events on the calendar for special event space rentals and “many more inquiries in the works.”

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