by Dennis Dalman
The St. Cloud-based Great River Regional Library System has agreed to consider a conceptual plan for a Sartell branch library, which will be presented to the library board in March.
City officials and the GRRL Board met Jan. 21 and came to an agreement about the city submitting a plan.
The plan would include some kind of firm commitment by Sartell to provide a suitable structure to house a branch library. It’s likely a branch library would be included on the premises of a community-resource center, but other sites (new or retrofitted) have not been ruled out, said Sartell Administrator Mary Degiovanni.
If all goes well, Sartell could begin building a library (and community-resource center) this year, and the library could open in 2015.
An assessment plan drawn up by the GRRL Board stated a Sartell branch library would likely have a circulation of 150,000 items per year and should, ideally, be open 40 hours a week. It would cost GRRL about $150,000 for staffing. GRRL would be responsible for all staffing, materials and programming. Sartell would pay for ongoing building maintenance and utilities.
(For more about how a branch library operates, see related story about the Waite Park Library in today’s paper.)
“We’ve indicated to the (GRRL) board we’re ready to move forward,” said Degiovanni, who attended the Jan. 21 joint meeting, along with Sartell Mayor Joe Perske and several other individuals.
Perske reiterated to the board that Sartell residents have long wanted a branch library, that the city is committed to paying for it with revenue from the regional half-cent sales tax and that the city is long overdue for a library, considering its rapid growth of population in recent years.
Throughout the past 12 years, several citywide surveys in Sartell have shown “library” to be at the top or very near the top of a majority of responses from residents. A majority of city council members throughout the years has also expressed enthusiasm for a branch library.
Degiovanni noted all of the six counties that belong to the GRRL system pay taxes so the system can operate.
“With our rate of growth, a Sartell library could take some demand off of the other libraries in the system,” Degiovanni said.
Degiovanni’s statement was verified by Karen Pundsack, associate director of patron services for GRRL. Some of the registered borrowers who visit the Waite Park Library, she said, hail from Sartell, as well as some from St. Joseph and St. Cloud.
The next step toward the possibility of Sartell getting a library is for city staff, the city’s community-resources committee and the city council to agree on the details of a conceptual plan to present to GRRL.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.