Carson City Library Director Sally Edwards says the library is a victim of its own success.
"We're such a good place that everybody's here, and there's not enough room here," she said. "There's not one wall in the public area that doesn't have shelving on it. There's no place to sit and quietly study. This place is very, very well used. Probably what we need to serve the community 20 years from now is a whole new building. How to pay for that is a whole different question."
A property tax initiative that would have added $440,000 a year to the library coffers was defeated in 1998 by 348 votes, Edwards said.
In light of the library's need for expansion, a relatively new Carson City Library Board of Trustees decided Tuesday to start planning for another ballot issue.
This time, they want to hire a consultant to study the issue out and get community focus groups to help the city understand how important the library is.
"We should get some momentum going for this," Trustee Shirlee Veverka said.
Trustees decided they weren't prepared to try again for the 2000 ballot, but discussed possible ballot options such as a sales tax initiative similar to the Quality of Life Initiative for the 2002 ballot. They want to look towards private funds and grants. Money is needed not only to add space to the building or to build branches throughout the city, but to hire extra people so the library can have longer hours.
Trustees fear the idea that the library is not a essential part of a city may keep funding for the library "at the bottom of the totem pole," said library attendee Flo Collins.
"The trick is to get everybody to feel that a library is a necessary thing," Trustee Brenda Wipfli said.
The library is a roughly 21,600 square foot building built in 1971 with a 4,000-square-foot addition in 1982. In 1982 the city only had 25,000 people "and the population has more than doubled since I came to work here," Edwards said.
"That's just within Carson City itself which doesn't speak to the rest of it."
Between 1,000 and 2,000 people from not only Carson City but also from Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties use the library daily, and about 400,000 items were circulated last year, Edwards said.
In a previous study people said they wanted a bigger facility and longer hours, which the 1998 ballot question would have helped with, Edwards said.
Library trustees asked voters in 1998 to add 5 cents, about $17 a year, to their property tax bill to keep lengthen library hours.
"If I could go zap and there it is, 10,000 square feet was probably too small," Edwards said. "It was not about was ideal, but what was sensible. It was a Band-Aid."
Revenues also would have been used to remodel the interior of the library, add a 10,000-square-foot expansion and add more book stacks and Internet-wired computers.