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Town meeting vote critical to getting library on ballot.

Byline: Bill Fortier

AUBURN - Representative town meeting members are expected to vote this fall on construction of a new library, whose cost is estimated at $16 million to $18 million. If approved, the library would be on the annual town election ballot in May.

Auburn is first in line for a grant from the state Board of Library Commissioners, which would pay for between $3.64 million and $4.18 million, Library Director Joan F. Noonan said yesterday. The remaining $12 million to $14 million would be borrowed and would have to be approved in a Proposition 2-1/2 debt exclusion. The state grant is subject to passage of a capital bond bill. State Rep. Paul K Frost, R-Auburn, said it is unclear when the bill will be filed.

The recent awarding of grants to Dudley and Mashpee moved Auburn up to first on the list, Ms. Noonan said.

Plans call for building a two-story library on the site of the current library, which turns 40 in November.

"We now have a 20th-century library," Ms. Noonan said. "We need a 21st-century library."

The new building could be 39,650 square feet; the current building is 14,500 square feet. The number of items available to the public would increase from 87,480 to 171,545, and seating would increase from 60 to 130. There would also be 49 computers, an increase of 36.

The new library would have a larger browsing area and more space dedicated for young children and teenagers. A meeting room would hold 125 people, and a conference room-computer training lab for 25 people would be open to the public after the library closes for the day.

The Board of Library Trustees voted earlier this month to ask selectmen to place an article on the fall town meeting warrant that would ask town meeting members to authorize placing a debt exclusion question on May's annual town election ballot.

Towns have six months from the awarding of a provisional state grant to secure town funding. With the expectation that the town will get the state grant this fall, the town has until the end of May to decide the town part of the funding, Ms. Noonan said. No date for a special town meeting has been set, although it is believed one will be held in late October or early November.

Daedalus Projects Inc. of Boston is being paid $600 to come up with a detailed cost estimate for the library, and Ms. Noonan expects that estimate to be ready next week. She said the town meeting members will be given the detailed cost estimate in preparation for the special town meeting. She added that an open house at the library is planned, probably before the special town meeting.

"I'm willing to speak to anyone who will listen," Ms. Noonan said.

Meanwhile, Ruotolo Associates Inc. of North Andover will be giving a report, perhaps as soon as next week, on the best way to proceed with fundraising efforts for the new library. Ruotolo's fee of up to $13,750 is being paid from the J. Ernest Brierly Fund, which has been used previously by the library for special projects.

Volunteers are still being sought for a library building committee that was created by selectmen in April to oversee the project.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 14, 2007
Words:552
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