New, Central Library Proposed for Yarmouth

YARMOUTH – A new plan for the public libraries in Yarmouth is under consideration.

The plan, recommended by the Yarmouth library ad hoc committee on February 1, calls for the town to replace both the South Yarmouth and West Yarmouth libraries with a new central library.

Other recommendations include expanding each library separately to completely replacing them. Pending state funding, the construction of a new library would likely be completed around the year 2025.

Committee member Richard Simon presented the committee the details of a 110-page report on a building analysis for the libraries to the Select Board.

“It’s libraries cannot fully service the public’s existing or projected needs,” said Simon

“There are multiple studies spanning 15 years, from 1989 to 2004, that documented this growing need and the facility shortfall. Then, combined with some very bullish Cape Cod projections, it culminated in a 2004 ballot initiative.”

The total cost for constructing a new central library, that combines the current West and South Yarmouth libraries, is estimated at $17 million. To build two brand new libraries comes at an estimated cost of $27 million, while expanding the two is estimated to cost $27 million.

“For decades, almost every other town has enhanced its public library services, taken advantage of state grants and private benefactor funding to modernize and expand their facilities. Yarmouth is the only town in the CLAMS network that has not expanded,” added Simon.

Simon also presented a graph of the 16,000 square feet of library space compared to the population growth of the town, arguing that the libraries haven’t kept up with the need for more space.

Following the presentation of the analysis, a majority of Yarmouth selectmen concluded that the loyalty residents have to their village libraries could be the biggest hurdle in the central library proposal.

Selectman Tracy Post added that she believes that’s why a similar proposal in 2004 failed.

“I think that the reason that it failed in the first place was because of the community involvement and getting everybody on board, because there were a lot of people who still had that very strong feeling towards their own section of town and keeping it what it was,” Post argued.

The ad hoc committee requested the authorization of $50,000 to be authorized by the board to organize a new committee and assemble an information package of the Phase One plans for the community.

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