Monday, November 3, 2003

Middletown library denied funding

The second round of library construction grants have been awarded, and Middletown Library did not make the cut. But proponents are already planning ahead in preparation for the application deadline of Jan. 16, 2004 for a final opportunity at funding.

The process was very competitive," said District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey who attended Tuesday's meeting of the California Public Library Construction and Renovation Board with Middletown School Superintendent Robert Gomez and school board President Dauna Elledge-Burns. "Lake County's application was average, but it was not exceptional."

County Librarian Kathleen Jansen was likewise pragmatic. "On Saturday morning, the state posted project rankings, and we were within the 'acceptable' range. You kind of knew we probably wouldn't get it."

The board considered 66 applications for state matching grants to fund library construction projects in California, eventually awarding a total of $108.2 million to 16 projects.

In rendering its decision, the board considered findings by the Office of Library Construction Staff, individual application summaries and three hours of public testimony by approximately 100 individuals.

Robey said that part of the problem with preparing an application was that everybody involved is busy with full-time responsibilities. "I think we need to spend a little money on a professional grant writer," he added. "A lot of people in Sacramento were people who didn't get funded the first time, and that was exactly what they had done this time around."

Tuesday's awards represent the second cycle of Library Bond Act funding, money raised through the passage of Proposition 14 in March of 2000. The California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act designated a total of $350 million in funding, to be distributed during three funding cycles.

During the second funding cycle, the board received approximately $550 million in requests and it awarded just under its funding cycle limit of $110 million. "People were saying this just goes to show how competitive this is and how badly they need another library bond," Robey observed.

More information about library construction funding can be found on the Web site of the Office of Library Construction, www.olc. library .ca.gov/. Allocation of remaining funds will take place some time in the summer or fall of 2004.