St. Joseph County Public Library

Capital Improvements - Phase II
2007 - 2009

Includes Four Projects:

Main Library Expansion

New German Township Branch Library

New Roger B. Francis Branch Library

LaSalle, River Park, Tutt & Western Branch Libraries Expansions & Renovations

In 2007 the St. Joseph County Public Library completed Phase I of its Long Range Capital Improvements Plan , 2005-2009. Phase I included the replacement of two small rural branch libraries with much larger, new facilities, the new North Liberty Branch in Liberty Township and the new Lakeville Branch in Unio n Township. Phase II of the Library's Long Range Plan originally included four projects: The expansion and renovation of the Main Library, the creation of a new, large branch in German Township, the expansion and renovation or replacement of the Roger B. Francis Branch in Clay Township, the the expansions and renovations of its four City branches, the LaSalle, River Park, Virginia M. Tutt and Western Branches.

As the Library's Long Range Capital Plan indicates, the St. Joseph County Public Library system long has been planning to expand and improve its Main Library, to enlarge its busient branch, the Roger B. Francis Branch, to expand and renovate its four City branches, and to build a new branch in rapidly growing German Township. However, higher than anticipated costs for the Main Library expansion and renovation would have necessitated the issuance of a larger than anticipated general obligation bond. Because this larger bond would have had a negative effect on property taxes, the Library Board decided at its January 22, 2007, meeting to split up these projects into two phases over a ten-year period. The Board decided to go ahead with the branch expansions, renovations, and creation and with the conversion of the Library's automated circulation system to RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). Postponing the Main Library expansion and renovation allowed us to issue a much smaller general obligation bond ($15,300,000) with a shorter term (10 years).

The current plan is to work on Main Library after the smaller general obligation bond for the branch libraries is paid off in 2019. Main Library then would be moved to a new phase, Phase III of the Library's next Long Range Capital Improvements Program. A schematic design for Main Library was completed in September 2007 in order to develop a more accurate estimate of what the future project would need in terms of additional space, and how the expansion and renovation might best be accomplished on our downtown site. This information will be used to raise supplemental funds from the private sector, thereby reducing the amount that will be needed for a future general obligation bond to finance Main Library expansion and renovation. Public input will be ongoing throughout the long-term fund-raising campaign. Architectural planning and development will resume in 2017 and should be completed by the end of 2018.

Construction under this revised Phase II of the Long Range Capital Improvements Plan, I am happy to report, is now well under way. The state Department of Local Government Finance approved our General Obligation bond in October 2007 as well as the sale of two GO bonds, one in December 2007 for $8,000,000 at a very low interest rate of 3.8 % and the second for $7,300,000 in January 2008 at an even lower interest rate of 3.1%. Construction bids on these projects were very competitive and contracts were awarded to three excellent, local general contractors. The library also has three excellent local architectural firms designing and overseeing these projects to their successful completion.

Four branches are now under construction: a completely new Francis Branch, expanded River Park and Western Branches, and a brand-new German Township Branch. Construction work on LaSalle and Tutt Branches will start in the fall of this year. The work on the four city branches has been staggered so that no more than two city branches will be closed at any time during the entire construction period, ensuring that people will still have an open branch that is relatively close to them even with their neighborhood branches. All six branch library construction projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009.

Why Build Now While Cutting Services?

Some have asked how the St. Joseph County Public Library can renovate current facilities and build new ones while simultaneously reducing hours, staffing, and purchases of new library materials. We are cutting our operating budgets to cope with the reduced property taxes we will receive under the new property tax law enacted by the State Legislature in April 2008. Construction funds, however, come from a completely separate source of money, the issuance of bonds. By Indiana State law, construction funds must be kept completely separate from operating funds; money from one fund may not be used for the other. Thus, legally we cannot stop our construction projects and use that money to fund SJCPL operations. Rest assured that because the money used for construction comes from a different source than our operating funds, the construction projects are in no way responsible for our budget squeeze. Even if the library were not renovating and building at this time, it would still face the same shortfalls in its operating budget and would still need to reduce its operating costs 12 percent over the next two years.

As a result of the new property tax law, the SJCPL operating budget is projected to be $790,000 less in 2009 than it is in 2008 and $1.6 million less in 2010, according to projections by the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.

As responsible stewards of your funds, we have begun cost-cutting measures immediately. In response to the 12 percent reduction in income, we will work to cut all of our budget lines by 12 percent. This means:

  • a reduction in staff, not by layoffs, but by natural attrition;
  • a reduction in the purchase/quantity of new materials (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.);
  • fewer library programs at all locations;
  • greater energy conservation to reduce the cost of utilities;
  • a reduction in our operating hours, based on a careful study of our least busy days and times;
  • other creative measures suggested by our staff and patrons.

Our building program, as explained above, is completely separate from our projected budget shortfall. These building projects were planned and the bonds were sold long before the current property tax legislation was passed by the State Legislature, and so by law the Library must continue them and use them for the purposes for which they were sold. Also, the Library's building and renovation program will enable us to better serve you over the long term and to do this more effectively and economically. By incorporating new technologies in our buildings, we will make our processes more efficient and less costly. In this way, we will be able to place our staff where they are most needed across our library system.

Also, interest rates at the time that the bonds were sold were lower than they have been in over a decade. The number of bidders on these projects was higher than we have ever seen and the bids themselves were lower than we had seen in many years. The sale of these bonds will also provide much needed work for local construction firms and their crews, who are struggling to make ends meet at a time when the economy is worsening.

Finally, because St. Joseph County Public Library paid off all of its previous long-term debt at the end of 2007 and because the interest rates for these new bonds were much lower than the previous bonds and have a shorter term (a 10-year payback rather than the typical 20-year payback), the Library's effect on the public's overall tax rate is actually less in 2008 than it was in 2007 and would have been lower even if the new property tax controls were not enacted by the State legislature.

As the South Bend Tribune stated about the Library's service cutbacks in an editorial (March 28, 2008), “Cuts (are) not fun but they are realistic.”

Please bear with us during this time of economic challenge. We believe you will find that, once all of the renovations and constructions are complete, your SJCPL will serve you even better and will continue to be “your library for life.”

For more information and to follow the progress for each of these capital projects, check the links below. If a link is active (blue and underlined), then you can click on it for more information. If a link is not active, then that step in the planning process has not been started or completed as yet, or I just have not had time to upload the materials.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please talk to any of our staff or write to me at or at:...

Donald J. Napoli, Director
St. Joseph County Public Library
304 S. Main Street
South Bend, IN 46601

See also the Library's Long Range Plan for 2005-2009 and its supporting documents and its revised (July 31, 2006) Long Range Capital Improvement Plan for 2005-2009, Phases I and II, and its supporting documents.

Phase II
Progress Reports, Drawings, & Photos

Click on each of the links below to see reports, drawings and photos showing the progress of each project under Phase II of the St. Joseph County Public Library's Long Range Capital Improvements Plan, 2005- 2009. To see similar reports on Phase I of the Plan, go to the Library's Phase I page covering the years 2005-2007.

Main Library - Expansion & Renovation - Additional 37,000 to 40,000 sq. ft. (postponed to 2019):

German Township Branch Library - New 15,100 sq. ft. Library Building:

Roger B. Francis Branch Library - New 23,744 sq. ft. Library Building:

LaSalle, River Park, Tutt & Western Branches - 3,000 sq. ft. Expansions & Renovations:

  • Overall Planning Documents
    • Building Program (approved by Library Board on November 13, 2006)
    • Schematic Design Phase (approved by Library Board on Jan. 22. 2007)
    • Artist's Rendering of Expanded City Branches
    • Design Development Phase (approved by Library Board on March 26, 2007)
    • Construction Drawings and Specifications (not up yet)
    • Ground Breaking (See individual City branches below.)
    • Construction Progress Photos (See individual City branches below.)

See also the Library's Long Range Plan for 2005-2009 with its supporting documents and its revised (July 31, 2006) Long Range Capital Improvement Plan for 2005-2009, Phases I and II, and its supporting documents.

This page was last updated on 3/18/10.
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