Holts Summit to get new library, could raise future taxes

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HOLTS SUMMIT - Holts Summit will get a new library by February 2019, but taxpayers will have to decide if it will stay.

The Daniel Boone Regional Library and the Holts Summit Community Empowerment Foundation signed an agreement to open a library in Holts Summit. DBRL Executive Director Margaret Conroy said it received an offer from HSCEF to develop a library space in the town rent-free. She said it looked at what it could do with its budget and decided to move forward.

"We knew there was a growth opportunity for us," Conroy said. "We want everybody in Callaway County to have a library branch that is close to them.

Currently, the closest library to Holts Summit is in Jefferson City. Taxpayers funds go to the Daniel Boone Regional Library, however, and the closest DBRL branch is in Fulton. 

"It's a focus of our strategic plan to extend our services to everybody in our service area, and we want to make sure everyone in it has access to these services," Mitzi St. John, public relations manager for DBRL, said. 

HSCEF offered DBRL the Holts Summit space for two years. But after the two years, Conroy said it will have to ask taxpayers if they want to continue to fund the library by raising the taxes.

"The reason this is a two-year rent free deal is that we don't have the funds to go out and build in Holts Summit," Conroy said. "This is a collaboration with a group who was trying to get a library presence in town, so we are working with what was offered to us."

Conroy said she is very hopeful the community will learn to value the new library.

"Unless someone leaves us a million dollars to fund it, we hope the community will be willing to continue the service there by raising taxes," she said.

If taxpayers approved the tax, Conroy said it would be a levy in the April 2020 election. She said if it passes they would start paying rent and expand their hours. Right now, they plan to be open 20 hours a week.

Holts Summit was an appealing spot because of its success with DBRL'S bookmobile program. St. John said it has been its most popular spot, and the services will continue until the library opens. 

Resources for the library will come from the Callaway County library district tax, and DBRL is taking some books and computers from the Columbia and Fulton branches to add to its collection.

Conroy said there is still a lot of work to be done, but she is excited for what it will bring to the community come February.

"One role of a public library is that it's a sense of place," she said. "We like to call it a third space. It's not home, it's not work, but it's a place where people can come and feel like they belong to a community."

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