UPPER PROVIDENCE -- A new library branch is the subject of active talks among three municipalities, although Limerick officials have signaled they can't afford to contribute.
Kathleen Arnold-Yerger, executive director of the Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library, said the proposal is "very preliminary."
A new 10,000-square-foot to 15,000-square-foot branch would be situated in Upper Providence, although an exact location hasn't been selected.
Arnold-Yerger said a growing population along the Route 422 corridor will need an expanding library system to serve its needs during the coming years.
There are library branches in Royersford, Schwenksville, Red Hill and Conshohocken -- all of which are under the Norristown Public Library's management.
Officials from Royersford, Limerick and Upper Providence met several times in recent months to discuss the possibility of partnering together on an additional library.
At a recent Limerick Board of Supervisors meeting, chairwoman Elaine DeWan said she would "love to see a library."
"I have major concerns. We have so many things on our plates right now," DeWan said.
Supervisor Ken Sperring Jr., said the township doesn't have funds to support this joint effort. That point was echoed by Supervisor David Kane.
Limerick contributes $1 to the Montgomery County-Norristown Pubic Library for each resident because the township lacks its own library.
If a new branch were to come to fruition, Norristown would provide staffing, computers, books and other materials, according to Arnold-Yerger. Each branch carries a 501(c)(3) non-profit designation and is responsible for fundraising, she said.
The three municipalities would likely pay for utilities, maintenance and some other items. Although no agreement is final, the municipalities would likely contribute proportionately to their populations.
Royersford Borough Manager Mike Leonard did not specifically endorse the additional library and said talks are preliminary. Upper Providence Manager George Waterman did not respond to a request for comment.
Arnold-Yerger is pleased to see the municipalities at least talking, and didn't expect anything concrete for a couple of years.
Julie Mullin, a Spring-Ford Area School Board member and Upper Providence resident, has a child entering kindergarten and two sixth-graders.
"I don't see how an extra library could be a bad thing," she said. "Royersford is such a tight-knit area, they wouldn't want to lose (the current library)."
The Royersford branch is approximately 6,000-square-feet and is located on the 200 block of Fourth Avenue.
Throughout Montgomery County, there are 35 independent libraries, the Norristown executive director said. New construction for libraries of that size can be expensive. In Horsham, for example, an independent library cost between $5 million and $6 million, in addition to $700,000 in annual maintenance.
"We're trying to offer a branch, so they don't have to put in those types of dollars," Arnold-Yerger said.
In 2008, Montgomery County allocated $2,485,000 to public libraries, a 3.5-percent increase over last year. Pennsylvania's Legislature earmarked close to $76 million in library subsidies last year.