Library Project Q & A

We have two public libraries in town already; why do we need a new one?

We want to give our community something special!

Libraries are places of discovery and wonder. They are places that encourage human interaction and engagement in the community. We plan to include a large community room that can be used by all. We anticipate booking the room for art shows and classes, lectures, business meetings, non-profit and town government meetings. We will also use this space as an incubator for new business ventures. If you have an idea you’d like to try out but need a space, we’ll give you that space. We will offer dedicated quiet study spaces which we currently sorely lack. There will be a room just for teens: a place where they will feel comfortable just hanging out with Wi-Fi, computers and gaming consoles! There will be a space for families to settle into a comfy chair in a cozy nook to sit and read together. And there will be a space for folks who might like a quiet, comfortable place next to a sunny window where they can read a book or use their iPad.

And the practical considerations (bulleted lists mean business!)

1. The sad truth is that neither the Foster Public nor the Tyler Free building is ADA compliant and, as an entity that gets state funding (approximately 1/3 of our budget), the Libraries of Foster are in danger of losing those funds. If that were to happen, we couldn’t continue to operate and would have to close our doors: we would be unable to afford a membership in the Ocean State Libraries library consortium and we would be unable to keep up with maintenance, staffing, and collection costs. If we closed, according to Ocean State Libraries guidelines, Foster residents would be unable to use libraries in other towns without paying a hefty per-card fee. And of course it goes without saying that, since we are a place in the community that welcomes everyone, everyone should be able to physically access the buildings.

2. These lovely buildings were not constructed with modern technology and 21st century library service in mind. We have done our best to retrofit them, but to truly meet our needs, we would have to make major additions to the current buildings. The libraries have had no room to expand their collections for years now. There is no dedicated quiet space for study, and the basements serve as our meeting rooms but are prone to flooding and water damage, resulting in unhealthy conditions. Parking is severely limited and any program with 50 or more attendees must be held outside or we violate fire code. Additions of the required size would compromise the historical and architectural integrity of the buildings, and we don’t have the land to allow expansion at either location.

3. A newly constructed building will be more energy efficient, which will result in great savings in fuel bills, and a purpose-built structure will always be more efficient in general than any building which has been adapted from its original use. This is a high priority for us in designing a new library.

Why can’t you make the existing libraries ADA compliant?

We have looked into this extensively, but it turns out that it would cost at least as much, if not more, to add on to and modify the two buildings to make them accessible, even without considering the amelioration of the current site issues and lack of interior space.

What will happen to the current library buildings?

While both buildings will no longer function as libraries, understand that we take our stewardship of these buildings very seriously and we will do our absolute best to make sure that they remain viable entities in the community. We have given the Foster Preservation Society and the Moosup Valley Church first right of refusal. Both entities rely on private funds for operation, so there will be no burden to the taxpayers for building maintenance.

Where will the library be located?

The new library will be on the site of the proposed Simmons Crossing development at the intersection of Routes 6 and 94– the most central and visible location in town. The owners of the site, Ann and Michael Valentine, have given the libraries the land for our project. Our architects are aware of concerns regarding the site’s proximity to Route 6 and they will take every measure to ensure the safety of library patrons, including the installation of a reinforced stone wall between the library and the highway.

What will the new library cost and how will it be funded?

We are very aware that Foster residents are still paying for the bond incurred for the construction of the new middle school through their taxes; after all, we’re taxpayers too! Final cost estimates will be provided by the architects in the fall of 2014, but we anticipate this project to ** cost approximately $ 4 million; this will cover everything from the foundation to the furniture and fixtures.
We have secured a major grant from a foundation and are looking for additional grant monies. We will pursue private donations and we will take advantage of the state’s library construction reimbursement program. This program reimburses ½ of the eligible construction costs over 20 years. Please follow this link for more information on this program:
We will, in all likelihood, need to request a bond from the town. The amount of this bond will be a fraction of the total cost. The actual amount will be determined by our success in securing further grants, our fundraising, and major gifts.






Total Construction Cost: $3,720,200

Ballpark State Reimbursement: *$1,490,850

*50% of construction up to $200/SF and 50% of FFE with no limit.

Secured Grants to date: $750,000

Townspeople Contribution: *$1,479,350

*This is the amount that would be generated through tax revenue IF WE PURSUED NO FURTHER GRANTS AND DID NO FUNDRAISING. The Board and the campaign committee is committed to raising the maximum amount of funds possible for this project so reduce the town burden.


Will the library or town have to pay for the site engineering costs at Simmons Crossing? New!

No!  The owners are absorbing the cost of the site preparation of the for the new library. 

Why can’t we use the high school or new middle school library? New!

There are issues of security, safety and space. Combining a school library and a public library in one would result in conflicts of materials selection and patron privacy vs. school security. No identification is needed to enter a public library, which is diametrically opposed to the security needs of a school.

How can I learn more?

Call or visit the libraries and speak with the director, Kris Chin, or email The Libraries of Foster at Visit the libraries’ website at

To learn more about Simmons Crossing, visit

How can I provide input?
Attend a community meeting, submit suggestions at the libraries, or talk with library staff or board members.