Momentum is growing in the push for a new library in San Benito County, and advocates will hold their next meeting this weekend to talk about progress and next steps.
The current San Benito County Free Library on Fifth Street, next to the San Benito County Office of Education and neighboring the old courthouse, is nearly 60 years old and running out of room with growing demand for its services.
Organizers with the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library have been leading a push to develop a plan for a new library under the name Coalition for a New Community Library & Resource Center. The group’s next meeting is set for this coming Saturday at 11 a.m. at the library.
“We’re just updating everybody on where we are in the process of moving forward for a new library,” said Susan Logue, president of the Friends organization.
That process is in beginning stages, meanwhile, as supporters must develop a business plan and ultimately seek funding sources for the project. The first step is putting together a community survey, and organizers are hoping to get financial support from the county and City of Hollister to do so.
Once the coalition gets a better idea on level of community support and firmer plans, it can go out and request funding help. Those dollars might come from various sources that could include public or private support.
“There are people who are interested,” Logue said. “They need a business plan. We can’t get the business plan without the poll.”
For now, a lot of considerations remain up in the air in these relatively early stages, such as whether local college districts might have interest in a partnership of some kind or whether the concept would necessitate direct taxpayer support.
There are no certainties in the plans or specific dollar amounts at this point. But one thing is for certain on any project of this nature.
“It’s quite a bit of money,” Logue said.
Nora Conte, the head librarian, knows all about the need in the building, which is only about 11,000 square feet in total with about 7,500 square feet of public space.
“Many individuals from a variety of segments or areas in the community understand that it is too small to meet the library needs of this community now,” Conte said. “It was OK way back when. It’s not OK now because space is needed for a variety of things like study rooms.”
With lacking space, library services have been remote in many respects, such as the bookmobile. Conte called the facility a pillar of the community with regard to education. There are a variety of other purposes – such as issuing passports and teaching literacy – beyond just checking in and checking out books and media, she noted.
“Now libraries are a resource center,” she said. “They’re a service deliverer.”
To get involved, contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 877-3745.