Cary, FRG library merger talks on hold

Talks of consolidating the Cary Area Public Library and the Fox River Grove Memorial Library will be put on hold for about a year, the boards of each library decided Monday.

They’ll take up the possibility again in September or October, officials said.

“We’re still trying to figure out a lot of things ourselves,” said Scott Migaldi, president of the Cary Area Library Board.

A big sticking point is whether the Fox River Grove library would stay open in a merger.

“Do we really even need a building that close in the merged entity?” Migaldi said. “Would that facility serve the needs of people on that side of the river properly, would they be better served by a building located elsewhere, or would it be better to centrally locate in this building?”

The Fox River Grove library has some issues of upkeep at its building, such as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning work, which is budgeted, Fox River Grove Trustee Sarah Edwards said.

“We also operate very conservatively,” and don’t dip a lot into funds, she said.

One concern in a merger, Migaldi said, is the cost of operating a separate building and the cost of upcoming maintenance.

“It’s taking on a significant amount of financial responsibility,” he said. “We work really hard in our budgeting process to make sure we have the money we need, and that we are not currently in any debt whatsoever. And we want to stay that way.”

Migaldi said the Cary board has tried to come up with pros and cons for a library merger, but mainly was finding pros from a Fox River Grove perspective.

“One of the questions we kept having to ask ourselves, was what will our patrons get out of this?” Migaldi said. “At this point we don’t have a real good answer.”

Keeping the library open in Fox River Grove is key, said Lauren Rosenthal, president of the library board.

“All of our discussions were predicated on the idea our building would stay. Getting rid of the building is not on the table,” she said.

Fox River Grove Trustee Amy Dawson said that Fox River Grove residents can walk to the library easily and closing it would be a detriment to them.

The Fox River “is a psychological barrier,” Rosenthal said. But, she said, there are pluses for Fox River Grove in a merge: The tax rate would go down, there would be improved services and catalogs, and access to a larger collection for patrons.

The libraries do want to continue to work together on a staff level and have joint programs, officials said.

“Maybe a merger is too soon, maybe we get together in a year and see where our heads are at,” Migaldi said.

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