SOUTHINGTON –Southington Public Library is seeking an architect to either construct a new building or make renovations and expansions to the current one.
The current library, located at 255 Main Street, was constructed in 1974. However, since 2007, the library has identified a need for increased space to accommodate modern library services.
“We have been working on this for at least a decade,” said Kristi Sadowski, executive director of the library. “Last night, when I made a presentation to the town council, they decided that they wanted to take time and due their due diligence in the selection of an architect. I believe they will be taking a vote during their next meeting, in September.”
During Monday’s Town Council meeting, councilor John Barry was a vocal supporter of new or renovated space for the library. He supported bringing the issue to referendum.
“The current building looks like a small, ugly box that doesn’t suit the needs of a modern library,” he said. “I would like to see something with an architectural significance. The building that is now the Southington Historical Society was our first library. That building has architectural significance.”
Sadowski said that, if the current building were to be renovated, she would like to see an “exterior upgrade” as well. However, she is also concerned with the new library meeting the needs of an increased population. The current library is 21,000 square feet and serving a population of 43,791. This is smaller than Plainville Public Library, which is 30,000 square feet, and serves a population of 17,694.
“According to state guidelines, we would need to double our square footage to properly serve a population of our size,” said Sadowski. “However, there have been a lot of developments in using areas as flexible spaces that serve double or triple purposes, so we might not need quite that much. Still, all you need to do is take a look into our children’s room to see how crowded our library can be.”
Sadowski said that she would like to see meeting rooms which can accommodate more people. Due to changing fire codes, the capacity of the current rooms has shrunk.
“We recently had a program on essential oils which was double our maximum capacity of 60 people,” she said. “We had to have a second program to accommodate them. At the same time, we were having the finale of our summer reading program take place in our parking lot and a telescope hunt going on inside.”
Sadowski said that she would also like to see more quiet reading spaces in a new library.
“There is a lot going on in a modern library, which has evolved into a community center, and it can be disruptive for people who are there trying to get work done,” she said. “We want a space with an acoustic buffer for people who need a quiet space.”
Additionally, certain areas are currently not handicapped accessible. Sadowski is also looking to have increased seating and work space, wider aisles between shelves, and no hard to reach lower shelves. A lot of the library’s HVAC and lighting systems are also due for an upgrade both due to the age of the current systems and to make the library run more efficiently.
Sadowski said that she wants the new library to be representative of the community’s needs. 62 percent of households in town have at least one library card and the library sees an average of 685 visitors a day.
Sadowski encouraged members of the community to write down what they would want in a new library and drop these notes in the suggestion box at the library. Additionally, she said people can email the library at email@example.com with suggestions.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.