Why expand the library?

May 16, 2008

We are moving into a very exciting time in the Dwight Foster Public Library’s history. As many of you know, we have been considering an expansion project seriously for approximately 8 years. We’ve done a great deal of work already…including studying the feasibility of expanding this building as well as studying another possible location. The library board of trustees recently made the official decision to stay in the current library building and expand on this site. We will be moving forward with hiring an architect in the next few months. The architect will assist us in designing our expanded facility. So stay tuned for the plans and designs.

Sometimes people ask me why the library needs to expand. That’s a good question so I have done my best to outline some of the reasons an expansion is not only important but vital to our community’s library.

  • The library expanded last in 1983. That building project was sized to take the library twenty years into the future. Those twenty years have passed and the library became full right on schedule.
  • In 1983 the library did not own any computers, videos, DVDs, or compact discs. All of these are now essential library resources and, over the years, have been squeezed into our building which was never designed to house these items, which in turn takes away space for traditional library resources.
  • The library’s materials collection is at capacity for the building size. The shelves are full. In other words, every time we add an item, one has to be discarded.   
  • For a community of our size, the state’s guidelines show that our collection (based on our community service area population) should be approximately 91,777 to be considered excellent. Our collection is at its maximum size at approximately 84,000 and will never get much bigger than this, even though our service population continues to grow.
  • The floor loading limit has been reached in the 1983 expansion portion of the building. Engineers have advised us not to put any more load on the floor.
  • Seating is limited in quantity and variety. We have about half as many seats as we should according to the state guidelines for our community service population.
  • Public computing resources are limited by space and infrastructure.
  • Power and data distribution infrastructure is badly in need of updating.
  • Some aisles and areas do not meet the accessibility requirement in the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Library meeting spaces and their capacities are inadequate to meet the demand by civic organizations, community groups, and the library itself.  Additionally, there is no after-hours availability.
  • Crowded work spaces limit the staff’s ability to work efficiently despite their best efforts. There is not an ADA-accessible pathway anywhere within the general staff workroom.
  • The number of restroom fixtures is entirely inadequate for a building with the occupancy the library regularly experiences.
  • There are no publicly accessible quiet study areas in the library.
  • Collections have been split when they shouldn’t be or moved to completely different locations making them very difficult to find for a majority of patrons.
  • There is only a very small space allocated for young adults in our library, yet a substantial young adult collection exits and the demand for young adult space has been demonstrated.
  • There is almost no space in the library for public information displays.
  • There is very little space in the library for displays related to library programs.
  • Materials are shelved out of reach of many patrons on very high shelves.
  • The grade of the building on the lot makes physical access to the library very difficult for people with mobility challenges and senior citizens.

 Stay tuned as we open this exciting new chapter…

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