New Library Site Search —
Letter from The Libraries of Foster presented to the Foster Town Council Thursday night, June 14, 2018.
Honorable Members of the Foster Town Council:
The Town of Foster has a long history of supporting public libraries. In fact, the ﬁrst public library in Rhode Island was founded by Theodore Foster himself in Foster in 1781. Public libraries are amazingly democratic institutions. We serve the entire community: young and old, rich and poor, devout and nonbeliever, Democrat, Republican, and Independent. All you need is a library card to enjoy free streaming videos, the latest best sellers, children’s and adult programming, job search databases, computer instruction, and research assistance to name a few of our services. Libraries in the 21st century have evolved to be more than a repository for books. We teach digital literacy, possess some of the latest technology, have eReaders for our patrons, and act as an incubator for small businesses in Foster. The library is the heart and living room of the community, connecting people with one another and with information and entertainment. Unfortunately, The Libraries of Foster are facing a challenge.
Our charming old buildings do not meet state standards for public libraries. We are not handicapped accessible, we do not have quiet study spaces, our parking is inadequate, and we do not have an accessible meeting room for programming. The state has given us waivers in the past to allow us time to address these needs, but they are growing impatient with our lack of progress. We are facing the very real possibility that we may lose state funding, which accounts for 17.5% of our budget if we do not act soon. Without state funding, we would be forced to close our doors and Foster would be denied a very important community service. The Libraries of Foster has hired two library building consultants in the last 12 years to try to ﬁnd a resolution to these inadequacies. Both recommended that a new library be built for the Town of Foster.
As the ﬁrst step in this process, we are conducting a thorough search of Foster for a suitable building site for a new library. We are sensitive to the needs of the community and their wish to preserve a town center. We are also aware that if we buy a lot in town as a 501(c)(3), we will be removing it from the tax rolls. Therefore, we would like to request that the Town Council explore the following talking points on our behalf and let us know if they would be amenable to any of these possibilities.
1. Given the importance of the Libraries of Foster to the entire community, we would like the Town of Foster to include our future building project in their planning for Foster Center. We would like the Town’s police station feasibility study to include the possibility of a new public library on town-owned land close to the new police station and/or Town Hall. This would help to preserve historic Foster Center and would allow us to tie into an existing public well and septic system. It would also ensure that no private land was removed from the town’s tax rolls in the building of a new library.
2. We understand that the proposed police station project is in its infancy and we support a new police station for Foster. We have no desire to compete with the police project but we would be remiss if we did not consider every possibility. Therefore, in the unlikely event that the proposed police station building site becomes available, we would like the Town Council to consider placing the new library building there.
3. The Board of Trustees does not agree to move the existing police station (Aylsworth House) as was suggested at an earlier meeting. We would like to know what that would involve and what the costs and liabilities would be ﬁrst. We have yet to ask for a letter of support from the Preservation Society for moving the Aylsworth House and we do not know where the old police station could be relocated. When these questions have been answered, we will revisit this possibility.
4. If there is no space for a new library building near Town Hall, we would like to explore the possibility of the Town giving or making available to us a piece of property which can accommodate a public well, is centrally located, and is on a well-traveled road.
We thank you for your time and consideration and hope that this will be a beginning of a dialog between the Town Council and The Libraries of Foster’s Board of Trustees. We look forward to working together to provide excellent library services to the Town of Foster for many years to come.
Karen Mueller President of the Board of Trustees The Libraries of Foster
News on September 6, 2016:
The community Assessment adds an online survey, “Your Voice Matters.” Click here to take the 5-minute survey about library services for Foster, RI.
This survey is being conducted as part of an information gathering process conducted by the Board of the Libraries of Foster, to help ensure the Board has adequate input from the citizens of Foster on the future of library services and buildings.
Project News updated August 20, 2016
New Focus Group Meetings for September, 2016
The Libraries are conducting a community assessment of library needs and services. Residents of Foster are invited to participate in one of the focus groups meetings in September. The meetings are small so everyone can be heard and will be facilitated by a professional library consultant. Please join us in planning the best possible library services for Foster! Space is limited so register as soon as possible. RSVP to Tyler Free or Foster Public to reserve your seat. Light refreshments provided.
- Wednesday September 21, 6 pm at Foster Public Library, all residents of Foster
7:30 pm at Tyler Free Library, for all residents of Foster
- Wednesday September 28, 11 am at Tyler Free Library, a focus group for parents and caregivers of young children
- Thursday September 29, 6 pm at Hemlock Village Community Room, focus group for all residents of the Town of Foster.
For more information contact Katherine Chansky, Library Director,
Libraries.of.Foster@gmail.com, or 397-4801, 397-7930.
Project News updated January 28, 2016
The Board of Trustees of Libraries of Foster is researching possible sites in the Town of Foster for a new library building to meet State requirements for 21st century library service and to deliver better value to taxpayers.
Route 6 Project – Non Viable
This past winter and spring 2015, the Board of Trustees for Libraries of Foster was making plans to build a new library on property off Route 6. The proposed mixed-use development project off Route 6 is no longer viable and is no longer on the list of sites under consideration. The Building Committee is currently investigating possible new sites for a library.
The board has learned the Town Council is moving ahead to open a recreational facility near Paine School. Anything to do with the land across from the Paine School is being overseen by the Town Council. The Town Council is investigating on its own initiative the possibility of a library building being a part of this recreational use area.
When the prospect of constructing on that land was brought to the board’s attention there was interest on the library Building Committee in learning more about the site. This site may be added to a list of potential sites that could accommodate the new library.
The site near Paine School appears to offers many advantages. If building there becomes an option the board will weigh it against the other locations and make an informed decision about the best course of action.
Temporary Waiver of Rhode Island State library Standard Received
In October, 2015 the Board of Trustees requested and received short term waivers of Rhode Island State minimum standards from the Rhode Island Office of Library & Information Services (OLIS) to allow the libraries to continue to receive state funding for a limited time representing 33 % of the operating income. This is a short term solution to a larger problem for the libraries and the community. Without this critical funding the libraries could not stay open to the public. The waivers address the fact that the buildings are not currently compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and do not provide space for the public in well-lit, accessible spaces for programs and quiet study. Additional concerns from the community about lack of parking, the need for program and meeting room space, along with the expenses of maintaining historic structures are concerns the board is addressing in their search for a new library site.