FUSTWhen we heard of a plan to combine the Lee County Reference Room with the Johann Fust Community Library, we asked the Fust Library’s Vice President, Alice Gorman, for her input. This article was written by her, and represents information from both librarys’ staff.
BY ALICE GORMAN - Everyone in Boca Grande loves the Johann Fust Community Library. The building, with its gracious gardens on 10th Street that was given to our community by the Roger Amory family, is an institution that has continued to be a place of serenity and literary resources since 1949.
Last winter, the board circulated a survey in front of the Boca Grande Post Office that asked the community for its thoughts and opinions on our library system. The results that came back gave us a clear path to the answer to the problem.
An overwhelming number of people said that, although they loved the Fust library, they mainly got their books and DVD’s, and used the resources, including computers, at the Lee County Reference Room.The main question was “Why do we have two libraries in Boca Grande?” and “Is there any way that the libraries can combine?”
For the past year, the board of the Fust Library has been working on an agreement with Lee County Library Systems to form a partnership.
The idea that is still in the process of final negotiations is to move the library resources of the Reference Room at the Community Center to the Fust Library.
The same extensive and efficient resources will continue to be funded by Lee County (tax dollars from Boca Grande). The Fust library will maintain full ownership of the building and grounds and the endowment. It will continue to be responsible for ongoing operating and maintenance expenses for the buildings and grounds.
For the past 10 years, as Lee County has provided its extensive and efficient library services to the Reference room at the Community Center, the Fust Library has been in decline.
The Fust Library will raise the necessary funds to repair and renovate the buildings to bring them up to date and to accommodate the current library operations at the Reference Room. The library buildings need repair and renovation. Circulation, as well as the contributions, have been diminishing steadily. What was the board of directors to do?
The space now used by the Reference Room at the Community Center would revert to supervision by Lee County Parks and Recreation for other usage by the Friends of the Community Center. Such an arrangement would serve everyone’s needs. The Community Center is in urgent need of more space.
The Fust Library, in partnership with Lee County, would become the village’s only library, and would serve Boca Grande in a way that would honor the founders’ intent.
There are many libraries in Florida, as well as other states, that operate with this kind of public/private partnership. The Captiva Memorial Library, for example, is owned by the people of Captiva and is operated by Lee County Library Systems.
Also, there is written justification for this course of action in the Certificate of Incorporation of the Johann Fust Community Library. Under Article III, there is a statement: “The corporation may … build, construct, equip and maintain such buildings, structures and rooms as may from time to time be necessary to meet its requirements or the exigencies of a complete and modern library.”
It would not be possible today for the Fust Library to follow that guideline without the extensive resources of Lee County Library Systems.
While our architect, Seibert and Co., is still at work to create the detailed drawings and documents that we need to proceed with our proposed plans, the following ideas will be incorporated:
• The existing ‘stacks room’ will be transformed from the musty, dusty space that it has become into a historically appropriate library space that honors our past and values our heritage;• The children’s library, currently behind the office, out-of-sight and out-of-mind, will be relocated to the old potting shed and transformed into the Children’s Library and Secret Garden – a wonderfully special place for children and families;• A new technology center will be created in the old garage, transforming it into a state-of-the-art center for internet, e-books, and DVD’s;• All of the buildings and grounds will be made completely handicap accessible; and there will be a reading room where patrons can appreciate some of the rare books and artifacts of the Fust Community Library.
Upon completion of this project, the Fust Library will be open all year, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be closed for all legal holidays.
It is the sincere hope of the board of directors of the Fust Library that there will be full support in the community for this exciting and innovative agreement.
This idea is not “change” in the traditional definition of making something new and different. It is a renovation and an enhancement of what already exists.
We believe that it will ensure a vibrant future for one of Boca Grande's most beloved institutions for the children and grandchildren of island residents, visitors, and those who work here. When the agreement is finalized, the board will begin a campaign to raise the funds to make it happen.
If anyone has any questions or suggestions, please contact a member of the board of directors of the Fust Library or Toni Vanover at the Lee County Reference Room.
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