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Paynesville Press - March 10, 2004

St. Martin forms library board, prepares to raise funds

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Last week, the city of St. Martin took a first step toward starting a public library by organizing a library board.

On Wednesday, March 3, a dozen residents of St. Martin gathered for an informational meeting about bringing a library to the small town. During the meeting, seven library supporters formed a library board and several volunteered to act as officers.

Officers for the new library board are: Jimmie Hughey, president; Cara Terres, vice president; Maggie Casey, secretary; and Joel Schmitz, treasurer. Other members of the library board are: Paul Hughey, James Rothstein, and Roger Rothstein.

Because James Rothstein, who is the mayor of St. Martin, doesn't want to pay for a library with city funds, the next step for the library board is to begin raising money for the project. Rothstein estimates it will cost $250,000 to start a library.

Joining the Great River Regional Library System - a network of 32 libraries in six counties that would provide materials (books, magazines, movies, and music) to the new library - would cost $100,000. Plus it would take another $150,000 to purchase and renovate a building for the library (and to have funds available for ongoing maintenance).

Library supporters have identified two possible building sites for a library on Main Street in St. Martin. If the library does not become part of the library system, the community would have to build and furnish the library themselves.

Rothstein hopes to finance the project with endowments and grants. One of the new library board's first tasks will be to encourage students - from elementary to high school - to write letters to benefactors of similar projects asking for donations.

If the project - which Rothstein thinks will be a big asset to children and to senior citizens in St. Martin who have difficulty going to libraries in neighboring towns - fails, then supporters will be out nothing but their time, he said. He encouraged parents to get involved in the effort and to get their children involved.

The next library meeting will be held on Thursday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in the St. Martin Parish Hall. During that meeting, board members hope to help students begin a letter-writing campaign.

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