When the Powell branch of the Delaware County District Library opened in 1993, the city was an outlying village of a little more than 2,100 people, Jeni's and City Barbeque weren't even glimmers in the eyes of their creators, and Wyandot Lake packed in crowds every summer.

Things have changed, to say the least.

County voters Nov. 6 will be asked to approve a 1-mill library renewal levy that won't raise property-tax bills. The 15-year renewal is the same operating levy that has been in effect for the last 10 years.

It costs property owners about $38 annually per $100,000 in home valuation and is expected to raise about $5.3 million this year for the system, which includes libraries in Powell, Orange Township, Delaware and Ostrander.

The levy is expected to generate about $5.3 million annually and would allow the library to build a new branch, to be located somewhere in Powell or Liberty Township, library Director George Needham said.

Construction would begin within two years.

At 5,000 square feet, the Powell branch, 460 S. Liberty St., is "intimate" but the community's growth has far outpaced its capacity, Needham said.

If the levy passes, the current location likely would remain open, he said, but some events, such as children's programs, would shift to the new branch.

The library owns the building, but the land and an adjacent park are owned by the city of Powell, City Manager Steve Lutz said.

Powell typically does not endorse issues, but Lutz said "the city values the library's partnership in our community."

The building is paid for, but existing infrastructure, including the nearby railroad tracks, would make it too difficult to rebuild or expand, Needham said.

The library does not own any vacant land and has not yet determined a site for the new branch, officials said.

"It's about being respectful with the voters' money," library spokeswoman Hannah Simpson said.

A new branch would be about 25,000 square feet -- about 8,000 square feet smaller than the Orange branch, which opened in 2011 -- and would "allow us to multifunction the library a lot better," Needham said.

"If there is a good-size children's program going on (at the Powell branch), everyone's involved in it whether you want to be or not," he said. "When you consider what Powell was in 1992 when this library was built and what it is today, you can see what we're up against."

It would include programming and meeting space, quiet study areas and more parking spaces than the Orange branch.

And more electrical outlets.

"That's one of our biggest uses, is people who work from home," Simpson said. "They come in and want the human interaction."

The Orange branch, 7171 Gooding Blvd., has a similar public service area. The branch uses its extra space to store the library system's outreach services, including the bookmobile.

"If you look at it in circulation by square foot, (Powell) is every bit as busy as Orange," Needham said. "What they do in here is a microcosm of what they do at the other libraries."

Last year, about 570,000 people visited a Delaware County District Library. The system circulated 1.4 million items in 2017.

When the Powell branch opened 25 years ago, the Worthington Libraries branch on Hard Road -- about 2 miles away -- did not yet exist.

The Delaware County District Library earlier this year joined the Central Library Consortium, which makes the catalogs of 17 library systems across seven counties -- including Columbus Metropolitan Library -- available to patrons.

"The whole point of new libraries is that they're not just about learning through reading," Needham said. "So many of our kids and teen programs are about learning skills. We're working to be more inclusive in that area."

The levy, if it passes, also would fund updates at the Delaware and Ostrander branches, plus technology upgrades and the addition of more parking at the Orange branch, Needham said.

Needham said he wants libraries to be a "third place" in addition to work and home.

"My vision is a place where we can have a true community center where real learning can happen," Needham said. "The library has a role to help equalize things so everybody has the opportunity to be well-educated, well-informed and well-entertained."

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