- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Public Library system wants to spend $59 million to upgrade existing branches and erect new buildings as patrons flock to the branches for Internet access, group meetings and other uses.

CEO Jackie Nytes said she hopes the City-County Council will approve a proposal authorizing borrowing the money through a series of bond issues over the next six years.

The plan calls for renovating five branches, replacing four buildings and adding new branches in Lawrence and Perry townships, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported (http://bit.ly/ZJlaG4 ).

Library statistics show that use is on the rise despite readers’ increasing use of digital media. The library reported 4.3 million patron visits in 2013, a 1 percent increase over the prior year. Computer use hit 1.1 million session-hours, an 8.5-percent increase.

Nearly 16 million items were circulated, with books accounting for 64 percent of the material in circulation. Free downloads of eBooks grew 43 percent.

“We’re not seeing reductions in door counts,” Nytes said. “I think that people are looking for opportunities for informal education.”

Library officials think they can issue the debt without raising the tax rate. An accounting firm analysis says the library would have to tap cash reserves to cover all its debt payments in 2019 as a result of issuing the bonds, but those payments would decline after that.

The proposal calls for opening new branches starting in 2016 and completing construction of all of them by 2020.

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Information from: Indianapolis Business Journal, http://www.ibj.com

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