When the Hicksville Public Library's Computer Resource Center (CRC) located at 101 Jerusalem Avenue opened in the fall of 2006, the need to provide patrons computer and Internet access was prominent. However, the library board recently announced that, after more than a year of monitoring usage, the CRC is not warranted. As a result, the building has been put up for sale and is listed with the Hicksville-based Montana Agency, Inc. for $2.5 million.
In a letter sent to library patrons earlier this year, the board of directors stated that the decision to close and sell CRC was made after monitoring usage over the past year "concluded that there is not sufficient patronage to warrant the expense connected with maintenance and staffing of the building."
Carol Ahrens, library director, said that the costs associated with operating the 8,000 square foot facility, including but not limited to maintenance and service contracts, utilities and staffing, far exceed patronage with studies showing an average of eight residential patrons utilizing the building daily.
When the library board began planning for the CRC, Ahrens said, it anticipated a greater need for those patrons needing computer access and, as a result, that's how the building was designed. However in the time span from the building's inception to its final development, the community's needs have changed significantly.
Ahrens said that when the CRC first became an idea, people's needs when it came to computer and Internet access were much different than they are today. "It was a good plan for the time, but it took so much longer to get the building built than expected and factors changed. The needs of the community have changed. Technology has changed," she said.
According to the director, personal computers are now more affordable and the Internet - particularly in the form of wireless service - is more accessible. Additionally, computer services offered at CRC are also available through the Town of Oyster Bay at Hicksville's William P. Bennett Community Center, said Ahrens.
"Computers being more reasonably priced, wireless Internet being more accessible and the Bennett center being built all came into play [in making this decision]," said the director. Patrons should not that computer and Internet access in the main library will remain.
Additionally, prior to Ahrens taking over as director in February 2006, non-residents were using computers located in the main library without limitations. "Since her arrival, however, that practice has changed, therefore freeing up additional computers in the main library," stated the board.
As a result, the library is seeking to sell the approximately 8,000 square foot building. "With all of these conditions in mind, the board of trustees has decided to offer the CRC for sale with the intention of using those funds to accomplish much needed changes to the main library at 169 Jerusalem Avenue," the letter stated. It went on to say, "The money spent in this endeavor could be put to better use in upgrading and renovating the main library building that is considered home to all our patrons. We understand that some groups use the CRC for meeting purposes, but that does not change the fact that the building is severely underutilized."
Ahrens added, "We are looking to not increase the library budget for the upcoming year, which will be the second year in a row. We have to make the best use of things. The center wasn't being utilized properly and [seeing it] will enable us to use the money we make into retrofitting [the main library] which is need of improvements."
The Hicksville Public Library Computer Resource Center will remain open until sold.