The Lithgow Library, built in 1896, has served Augusta for more than a century. Without a major overhaul, however, historic Lithgow will be left behind to history.
That’s why voters on Tuesday should support the $8 million city bond that will help fund a $11.7 million project to set Lithgow up for the next 100 years.
Upon completion of the project, the library will triple in size. Gone will be the unsafe blind spots, the cramped quarters, the too-narrow stacks. The roof will be repaired, and the heating and ventilation system made current.
If those things are left untouched, the library will not remain as-is — it will continue to deteriorate.
In addition, with the renovation and expansion, there will be, finally, space for the number of computers necessary for a modern library, so residents without Internet access or a quiet place to work can do research, look for jobs and take advantage of the many resources that are now, more or less, Web-only.
Libraries can be a community’s great equalizer. There are free early education and summer reading programs, so important for kids who might not otherwise get those opportunities. There is digital literacy support for seniors playing catchup in a changing world.
For everybody, there is exposure to literature, art, music and movies. For centuries, people have used libraries to open their minds to the great works of culture, and that continues today.
Now, the cost of a project this size is no small matter. But Augusta is well-positioned to take it on.
Library supporters have raised $1.5 million and expect to raise another $1 million to cut the cost to taxpayers. In addition, a creative plan by the city will allow the refinancing of pension debt to stabilize debt payments and ensure that the library project will not increase property taxes.
This is the right project at the right time for the right price, and it deserves a yes vote on Tuesday.


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