Selling it library style

Image providedArchitects created this rendition of a remodeled and expanded Dowagiac District Library. District voters will decide a tax issue to fund the work on Nov. 6.

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac District Library officials are hoping a better marketing campaign about their proposed $7.4 million expansion will secure a 1-mill levy in the Nov. 6 election. 

Voters narrowly defeated the same request in August.

Library officials initially thought the 1-mill levy was approved in August until results from two outlying townships came in. Results from Keeler Township in Van Buren County and Bainbridge Township in Berrien County turned the initial appearance of a millage approval to a millage defeat with 891 no votes to 820 yes votes.

Library Director Matt Weston said he and other library officials heard from many people afterward.

“We heard from many people who weren’t aware of the library being on the ballot who would have voted yes,” he said.

He said library board members felt they could do a much better job advertising for November, having already laid the groundwork over the summer. The new marketing effort includes the distribution of 100 yard signs to library supporters in the city and surrounding townships.

Weston said that’s especially true in the Sister Lakes area, including Keeler Township. Outreach there includes distribution of yard signs, the submission of an article in a local newspaper and an upcoming free shredding event at the Sister Lakes Brewery on Oct. 27.

As they were in August, voters in the library district will be asked Nov. 6 to approve 1-mill levy to pay off a $7.4 million bond issue to build the addition and do the restoration work. The levy will run for 20 years to 2037 and collect $523,000 in the first year.

The owner of a home with a $70,000 taxable value, which is the average in the district, will pay an extra $70 a year. The library already levies 0.75 mill each year to pay for operations.

The library district includes Dowagiac and part or all of Silver Creek and Wayne townships in Cass County, Bainbridge Township in Berrien County and Keeler Township in Van Buren County. The library is at 211 Commercial St. in downtown Dowagiac.

The addition would more than double the library’s size to 15,000 square feet, Weston said.

The project will include removing the modern front to improve aesthetics. Interior work is designed to improve patron service. He said there will be space for a community room, study rooms, quiet areas, teens and pre-teen areas and space for more computers and more books.

He said the proposed plans call for the library to expand on the back side of the building with a two-level expansion. If the millage is approved, construction will start next spring or summer with the work done by the fall of 2020.

People can find out more about the millage proposal at the library’s website.