“Libraries are going away because of the internet; people don’t read books anymore,” that‘s what some people are saying.

The fact is, this isn’t true. Libraries are more relevant now than ever before.

The Seekonk Public Library is one of the most used services in our town. It delivers tremendous value. For every $1 of town tax invested, it returns $4.42.

Library leadership and staff provide amazing services with just 1.75% of total town taxes.

Numbers provide one window into how important the library is to our community life. Before the pandemic shut things down, in 2019 the library welcomed over 91,435 visits — that’s 308 visits per day.

More than 8,675 people attended 387 library programs. There were over 5,770 public computer users and over 5,080 wireless sessions. The library circulated 236,950 items. Between the 320 library programs and 200 community group gatherings, the one meeting room was in constant demand.

But the building is deteriorating and in need of major repairs and renovations. Structural damage has caused windows and doors to shift, water leaks. A leaking roof has caused walls to crumble. The outside siding is splintered. The HVAC is well beyond its years of expected use and is not COVID compliant. The electrical and mechanical systems are outdated, overcrowded and unsafe.

The Seekonk Department of Public Works estimates over $2 million in repairs, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Yet even if the building was repaired, spending that money would not address the program and services needs. The existing square footage is just too small. An addition isn’t possible because of structural and land space issues. We can’t go up on the existing foundation, and we can’t go out. That’s why Seekonk needs a new library now.

Imagine the benefits that would come from a children’s room enlarged to accommodate play space and collections with a dedicated story time/activity room. Or a young adult area for teens to study, socialize. Think of the additional economic support resulting from more access to technology and other resources for small businesses, entrepreneurs, job seekers; the added engagement for seniors and the public with expanded programs.

The total cost of the project is $19.6 million, reduced by a $7.3 million grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. We are assured of getting this grant. Seekonk’s project was included in the $150 million bond approved in 2014.

The local investment of $12.3 includes everything from tearing down the existing building, leasing temporary space, moving and storing the collection, hazardous materials abatement, landscaping and paving, furnishing and construction. It’s the total package.

It amounts to an average of $101.87 per year — or $1.96 a week. That’s less than a cup of coffee.

Plus, the Seekonk Library Trust plans to raise $1 million in private donations to further offset the impact to taxpayers.

The Seekonk Public Library is for everyone. It’s an essential thread to the fabric of our community.

We need a new library now, and for less than the cost of a cup a coffee per week, we can afford it.

The library is an economic anchor as we recover from the pandemic, and into the years ahead. It creates an informed citizenry.

Early literacy and reading programs contribute to youth education and school and career success. Libraries are safe places were good things happen.

Seekonk has a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Plan to attend the Seekonk Annual Town Meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 10 at the Seekonk High School to vote “yes” for the new library.

Seekonk needs a new library now. Invest in the future of our town by supporting our public library today.

To learn more, visit the library and see renderings, ask questions. You can also check out this website, sponsored by the Friends of the Seekonk Library and Seekonk Library Trust, to learn more: http://seekonk.voteyesforourlibrary.org.

Join the Seekonk Taxpayers for a New Library and show your support for the new library project. http://seekonk.voteyesforourlibrary.org/show-your-support-for-a-new-seekonk-public-library/

Anne B. Miller has been a Seekonk taxpayer since 1984 and is an active participant in the initiative for a new Seekonk Public Library: LibrarYES!. Having recently transitioned to retirement from IBM, she believes staying engaged with community life is essential, especially after a busy career. She is chair of the Seekonk Library Trust, a non-profit organization that welcomes gifts from individuals, families and businesses and other non-profits to ensure the Seekonk Public Library is an enduring foundation of community life.

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