LARGO -- All the hopes, dreams, hard work, sweat, anxieties, and expectations come to fruition Sunday with the opening of the new Largo library, properly and officiall called the Largo Public Library.
When the doors open to allow the public access to the more than 250,000 items -- books, videos, CDs, cassettes etc. -- state of the art library function will be revealed.
Among other innovations is a system of self check-out and while patrons are in the library they have at hand a variety of ambiences, including outside areas to enjoy library materials.
The culmination of this $23 million project (the price of the library is often erroneously stated as $21 million, but when the costs of borrowing money, cleverly and astutely arranged by city staffer Kim Adams, are figured in, the price goes up) is a huge edifice that dominates the south side of Largo's Central Park.
Surrounding the building is a huge parking lot and once inside a visitor can spend a lot of time just getting acclimated to the eclectic opportunities offered in the new building.
The bulk of the money to pay for the library came from future income -- that is, from Penny from Pinellas funds -- and the remainder from a bank loan, some grants and a $1.9 million public fund raising effort that has exceeded its goal.
To show how desperate the city was to raise money, it unwisely paid $100,000 to an "old pal" to squeeze $500,000 out of the state. A 20 percent premium, many observers think, is pretty high for even such a worthy project as the library.
The need for additional money is going to continue, as exemplified by a comment by Bruce McManus in the latest publication of the Greater Largo Library Foundation. McManus pointed out that "funding from private sources will be needed to supplement the operating budget paid for by tax funds."
At the same time, library officials eschew the idea that Largo residents who have library cards should pay a token fee for such cards, such officials being locked into the romantic idea of free libraries established by Andrew Carnegie a century ago.
For example, a significant amount of money could flow in from a token $10 a year (38 cents a week, less than the price of a cup of coffee) from each Largo resident card holder.
The idea that there should be an eagerness to gather funds, even in small amounts, escapes library grandees who are unfazed by the additional $1 million or so a year it will take to maintain the library.
Actually, the additional costs loaded on current library expenditures is about $700,000 but this will quickly climb in the near future, some experts say.
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