BRASHER — The Badenhausen Reading Room is looking for voter support on June 20 to transition to a school district library in partnership with the St. Lawrence Central School District.
If approved, it would be the second transition for the library, which started out as a branch of the Massena Public Library until Jan. 3, 2022, when it officially became the Badenhausen Reading Room.
The library had opened its doors on Dec. 11, 2014 in the former Boothe Hardware Store after the late Dr. D. Susan Badenhausen saw the need in Brasher and the surrounding areas for an educational and cultural center. She donated the funds for the startup costs, as well as the operational expenses for seven years. Dr. Badenhausen died on Sept. 23, 2018 and the funding was no longer available after Dec. 31, 2021. Dr. Badenhausen’s friends, Patricia McKeown and Karen St. Hilaire, were instrumental in setting up the library, which was overseen by the Massena Public Library.
The annual budget of the library was $65,000, which included rent, utilities, staff, books and periodicals, plus connection to the New York State Library System through the Massena Public Library. The town of Massena was paid $5,000 annually for bookkeeping services.
The transition to a reading room was necessary after town of Massena officials said they would no longer provide support for the library at the end of 2021, and the Friends of the Badenhausen Reading Room began forming to keep the facility open. The Massena Public Library offered assistance in the transition.
Now, with a successful year, along with increased services and patron visits under its belt, the reading room’s board of trustees is looking to become a chartered library. Working with the Division of Library Development, it was agreed that a sustainable source of funding is necessary prior to applying for a charter.
Trustees petitioned the St. Lawrence Central School District to become a school district library. They said the process is dictated by the New York State Department of Education. The petition was accepted, and the proposed referendum was approved and will go before the voters on June 20.
“We’re excited to be moving in this direction,” Laurel Murphy, president of the Badenhausen Reading Room Board of Trustees said in a statement. “Securing funding for the future of the reading room, soon to be a library is important to our patrons and the community at large.”
The Massena Public Library had attempted to transition to a school district library in June 2020, but that measure was rejected 1,640 to 892 by voters in Louisville and portions of Brasher and Norfolk.
That meant the town of Massena and its taxpayers would continue to fund the library. If the proposition had passed, the cost of running the library would have been spread out between residents of the towns of Massena and Louisville and portions of Brasher and Norfolk who live within the boundaries of the Massena Central School District.
The owner of property assessed at $50,000 in Brasher would have paid a $55 library district tax, while the owner of property assessed at $50,000 in Louisville would pay $51. Norfolk residents with property assessed at $50,000 would pay $54, and town of Massena residents with a $50,000 assessment would pay $44.
The amount to be levied would be $14,476 in Brasher, $153,302 in Louisville and $488,946 in the town of Massena.
The tax would have been collected by the school district and turned over to an elected library board of trustees. However, the library would have been independent from the school district.
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