COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Richland County Library System is asking voters for some help in a big renovation and expansion effort.
With a bond referendum next month, Richland County voters will decide whether or not to pay a little extra in property taxes for a lot of changes at 10 the library's 11 locations.
Heather Green sees the difference a modern library can make.
"People who say the library is obsolete probably haven't been to a library in the past decade," said Green. "When the people come in, they don't ask me a whole lot about the bond, because they see what we do every day."
The bond will be the library's first on a ballot since 1989, when the library's Main Street location was built.
"The facilities we have are in good shape, most people are surprised it's been that long," said Padgett Mozingo. "They're in good shape, but they need to be re-configured based on how people use libraries today."
Mozingo says in the past 4 years, traffic at the downtown branch has gone up 30 percent as people look for Internet connectivity and help finding jobs. The system is trying to make that process easier by adding extra computers to some branches, and meeting spaces to others.
Main Street's improvements will include a redesigned entry, and creature comforts like a new HVAC system and new carpeting. Mozingo says every one of the library's 11 branches will see enhanced services.
"We don't take asking for this money lightly, and obviously we're talking about planning and building for something that will be adequate 20 years from now," said Mozingo.
In total, the package will cost taxpayers about $59 million.
Mozingo says now is the time to get the most bang for the buck, citing low interest rates on the bond market.
"Anybody out there who's not using the library, I promise you that somebody in your life is, whether it's your neighbor or your coworker because our numbers show it," said Mozingo.
And Green hopes to see more of it, after voters head to the polls on Nov. 5.
"When people walk out of here and say the library changed their lives, that makes it all worth it," said Green.
The bond will hit Richland County voters in the form of a property tax. If you own a $100,000 home, the library estimates it'll cost you about $12 to $14 extra per year.