Library/Cultural Arts Center

The development of a Library/Cultural Arts Center in downtown Columbus continues to be a priority for the City of Columbus. Voters will be asked to authorize bonds for the project. This is not a new or additional tax for the Library/Cultural Arts Center project. The already authorized half-cent sales tax will be used to repay all bonds issued for the project. The public funds will be combined with grants and donations to complete the project. Alley Poyner Machietto Architecture was hired to finalize the facility's design. Construction manager at risk, Boyd Jones, is actively working with Alley Poyner to deliver the right size project for Columbus at the right price. Columbus Library Foundation and community volunteers are actively fundraising. Currently, $4.2 million from the private sector has been committed to the project.

Questions & Answers

Why do Columbus and Platte County need a new library?

The Columbus Public Library is for everybody, and enjoys about 400 visitors each day. The current facility has outgrown the space it occupies. Waiting times exist for computers, space is limited in the children's room, space to expand the collection of books and other resources is limited, restrooms are not ADA compliant, and the access to many areas is difficult for elderly and disabled patrons. The new Library/Cultural Arts Center will not only serve as a center for education and enrichment, it also will provide our community with a competitive edge in attracting new business and new residents.

Aren't libraries going out of date, with technology as advanced as it is?

Library services have changed to meet the community's needs and will continue to change in the future. There is more information today, and it is increasingly important for people to understand and use that information. The Columbus Library is heavily used. More than 136,000 people visited the Columbus library last year, using the library's collection, but also taking part in educational activities for children, teens and adults. 21,000 people attended a library program last year. There were over 35,000 public computer sessions in the past year with many more people accessing the internet using the library's wireless internet network. The Art Gallery had 8,000 visitors from 17 states and three countries over the past year. During that same time frame, the Arts Council educated and entertained 3,453 children. Imagine how many more people would use a new, modern facility.

How much support is there for this project?

The majority of respondents who participated in a recent fundraising feasibility study representing Columbus and surrounding areas said that they considered a new Library/Cultural Arts Center an important priority for Columbus. The half-cent sales tax was earmarked for the Library/Cultural Arts Center project and public safety improvements. The May 10, 2016, vote to renew the sales tax was approved with 65% support. The Library/Cultural Arts Center project has attracted $4.2 million in donations and grants.

Why is there a new location?

A new location for the library means there can be space downtown for a new police station. The library has a few options for a new location that will keep it downtown, potentially closer to Frankfurt Square.

Why do Columbus and Platte County need an auditorium?

There's nothing currently like it downtown, the 300-seat auditorium will include a stage, dressing rooms and a projection area. It would be used by the library for presentations and it would attract performing arts productions for people to enjoy. The auditorium would also be used for community meetings, receptions and presentations, with much of its floor space containing removable seating. The current facility cannot accommodate groups larger than 50. Other auditoriums in Columbus, including the high school and community college, are regularly booked with events. The new Library/Cultural Arts Center will offer the only publicly available auditorium with open access to all.

Will there be more parking?

The new location will provide more parking spaces.

How much non-tax money does the project need to raise?

Based on the strong support for this project, the campaign committee will seek to raise $6 million to $8 million to help fund roughly half of the overall cost of a new Library/Cultural Arts Center with gifts from individuals, families, businesses and foundations. The project has already attracted $4.2 million in private investment.

Will the Quality of Life grants be part of the fundraising?

Because the Library/Cultural Arts Center is designated as a Columbus-area Quality of Life project, there is a challenge grant for the project that will match 50 percent of the first $2.72 million raised. This challenge grant is an unprecedented opportunity for Columbus.

How will the city pay for the rest of the project? Will my taxes go up?

Financing the project with the existing level of sales tax will not require an increase in taxes. The project will be funded by the half-cent sales tax that has already been approved by voters.

How can I make a donation or pledge? What are my options?

There are a number of options available. Pledge payments to the campaign may be spread over three years to allow more time to make a larger commitment. Of course, contributions made on a different timetable are welcome. There are other options for supporting the campaign, such as gifts of grain or livestock. We will be glad to work this out with you.

How can people help?

If you are interested in helping or know of someone who is interested, we would be delighted to have their support. Please contact Library Director Laura Whitehead.


Please join us in this important effort!

Thank you for your support of the proposed Columbus Library/Cultural Arts Center! It's an investment in the future of Columbus and Platte County.