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Library/Cultural Arts Center
Columbus Public Library has had a very exciting year. Of the many compelling stories of service, events, and patron experiences that can be shared, the most dynamic is the story of moving forward with the development of a Library/Cultural Arts Center in downtown Columbus. This past year we have made great strides in bringing a concept into reality. Key project milestones this year: a $1.36 million matching grant was received; the Columbus Library Foundation voted to contribute $1 million to brick and mortar and additional money to a campaign; the community contributed over $950,000 in donations; a site was purchased for the facility; Alley Poyner Machietto Architecture was hired to finalize the facility's design; public input and education sessions were held; and the City Council approved a Sales Tax ballot question identifying the project as a recipient of funds from .5% sales tax, the continuation of which will be voted on May 10th 2016. We are hoping for continued success in this exciting project for Columbus and the library community.

View the latest Town Hall Meetings in the Media Center.
View a copy of the Pre-Design Phase Presentation

Questions & Answers

Why do Columbus and Platte County need a new library?
The Columbus Public Library is for everybody, and enjoys about 400 visitors daily. 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Aren't libraries going out of date, with technology as advanced as it is?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 vast collection, but also taking part in educational activities for children, teens and adults. There were 161,400 Wi-Fi sessions and 40,000 public computer sessions in the past year. The Art Gallery had 8,000 visitors from 17 states and three countries over the past year. During that same timeframe, 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.

Why is there a new location?
The new location is about one block east of the existing library. It will provide more room for parking, and it will not require relocating the fire station or tearing down other buildings.

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.

Why is there a kitchen in the new design?
Kitchens are used for workshops and presentations, group meetings, staff and volunteers. The current library has three kitchens that are regularly used by the public and employees. Programs often include food, and meetings are often catered requiring the use of kitchen facilities. The library frequently hosts educational programs for all ages that require the use of a kitchen.

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.

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. Once that amount is raised, the campaign will receive the $1.36 million from the challenge grant for a combined $4.08 million, which is half of our overall fundraising goal. 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?
The City Council has shown support for the project through the acquisition of land that will serve as the Library/Cultural Arts Center's location. Initial conversations have been centered on developing a method of payment that falls within the City's existing sales tax. Financing the project with the existing level of sales tax would not require additional taxes.

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 one of the following: Campaign General Chairs Jim and Connie Hellbusch, Mimi Ernst or Library Director Drew Brookhart.

Please join us in this important effort! Contact any of the following:

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.