To the Editor:

I would like to add my voice to the discussions surrounding the request for additional municipal support for our town's only public library. Of course, I am biased but I am first a citizen of Manchester and well before taking this wonderful position, my appreciation for the current Mark Skinner Library was a deciding factor in locating my family here in 2001. I enjoyed volunteering on the Library's Advisory Council, and was part of the focus groups in 2006 when community members spoke clearly about desiring a "library of the future," one that would meet the needs of both current and future patrons while serving as a vibrant center for community activity.

This shared vision is being reached through the careful construction of the new Manchester Community Library - at no cost at all to the taxpayers - through the generous support of private donations and I am proud to be working along with our staff, trustees, and capital campaign team to bring this once-in-a-lifetime addition to the community I love.

We are asking Manchester taxpayers to help support our operating expenses and I would like to address the tax impact if our request is approved, as this is what some are objecting to the most. I recognize that no one likes to pay higher taxes, but I look at this support as an investment in one integral part of the revitalization of our great town.

The numbers listed here came from the town manager's office so there would be no doubt as to their accuracy. A few real-life examples: For the owner of a median house in Manchester, valued at $314,600, our additional requested amount of $44,800 would add $11.95 more per year to their tax bill. That additional amount is just shy of $1 per month more than their current tax bill.

If a house is valued at the mean amount, or $388,762, it would be an extra $14.77 per year, or $1.23 more per month. If a house is valued at double the median, or $629,200, then the tax bill would increase by $23.91 per year, or less than $2 more a month. I truly believe that what the new library will be providing to our community is well worth pennies a day! What I would like to add is that, in these challenging and rapidly changing times, libraries are needed now more than ever before. Manchester's new public library will be a trusted institution at the center of our community, accessible to all, serving infants to the elderly, toddlers to teens, and everyone in between in ways that could not be imagined a century before, and designed with flexibility to adapt to the future needs of our community in the century to come. Please attend Town Meeting and vote to fund the full amount the Library is requesting, $198,000, and show us you value all that we bring to our community.

Betsy Bleakie

Executive Director of the Mark Skinner/Manchester Community Library Manchester Center