Sandwich in Line for State Library Grant
By: Mary Stanley
The Sandwich Public Library’s board of trustees is just a few steps away from realizing a long-held dream of building a library branch in the South Sandwich part of town that will meet the demands of the town’s population.
Library Director Joanne Lamothe has filed a grant application with the state that, if approved, would cover nearly 50 percent of the $15.2 million price tag to build a 42,000-square-foot facility that would offer all of the amenities necessary in today’s libraries.
Ms. Lamothe and the board of trustees will go before selectmen Thursday night to request that an article be placed on the warrant for the upcoming Town Meeting, asking voters to accept the grant money from the state. Ms. Lamothe pointed out that this vote would not commit taxpayers to spending the money to build a new library, but it would let the state know that voters are willing to support the project.
She said this vote is the final step in the grant application process and is necessary for the application to be considered for grant funds. Ms. Lamothe said if the state does award this grant money to the town, a second vote at a future Town Meeting would have to be taken asking voters to support raising taxes through a debt exclusion to cover the town’s portion of the building costs.
The library director acknowledged the town’s long list of priorities, including building a new joint public safety facility, a new senior center, as well as maintenance and repairs. However, she said, because the state is willing to cover half the cost to build a library, this project represents an opportunity to take advantage of state funding.
“Everybody has the need but we’ve got the accompanying opportunity,” Ms. Lamothe said. She added that by building a new library in South Sandwich, inside the so-called Golden Triangle that stretches from Quaker Meetinghouse and Cotuit roads down to Route 130 and Cotuit Road, the new facility could jump-start activity on that parcel of land, so that future economic development begins to take shape. As for the priority of this project, Ms. Lamothe said there is no question as to the need for a larger library to meet the demands of Sandwich residents and visitors to town.
On Tuesday afternoon, parking outside the library was limited while inside, people were sharing space in the room where the town’s archives are stored and others searched for seating areas for studying or research. The Children’s Room was filled with young readers using library services during school vacation week. Ms. Lamothe said this kind of activity is the norm for the library throughout the year and not just during school breaks or vacations.
She said the proposed library would be large enough to comfortably serve every demographic of the population and would become a community gathering spot.
The plans for the new library call for a two-story, t-shaped structure to be built next to the Pop Warner field. “We are moving to what is known as the demographic center of town and to an area that is close to two of the elementary schools and just down the road from the high school,” she said.
With the new library branch situated on three acres of town-owned land, there will be ample parking space, a circular driveway in front of the building and even a drive-up window for returning materials. The building’s design includes plenty of windows that take advantage of natural light that will cut down on energy costs.
The plans for the first level of the building call for a large space on the left side of the building, complete with an enclosed reading garden, devoted to children’s programs. Ms. Lamothe said the idea for the reading garden came about as a result of public forums held during the design phase of the project. She said residents asked if there was any way to bring the outside into this area. By way of a skylight and windows, Ms. Lamothe said that request was accomplished.
Toward the back of the first level is a large space that will be devoted to new materials that come into the library. Ms. Lamothe said one of the biggest demands in library services is its new materials collection and it was important that this space be large enough so that users could comfortably browse the shelves and materials without bumping into one another or being sandwiched between the shelving units. This area will be set up like a book shop and includes plenty of seating as well as quiet study areas.
In fact, ample seating and quiet study areas are dispersed throughout the two levels of the library. Ms. Lamothe noted that these amenities are in high demand in today’s libraries.
An open staircase in the center of the building leads to the second floor of the library, which includes a large area for nonfiction books and reference materials, an adult fiction area with periodicals, such as newspapers and magazines, and a large area for teens. Ms. Lamothe said given the location of this library, she anticipates a huge growth in the teen population who will use the library facilities. One room of the library is devoted to a business center that can be used for video conferences by local business owners and others. “These business centers are the wave of the future,” she said.
The new building will also include several meeting rooms on both levels that can be used by the town for various committee and board meetings as well as by members of the public. She said one meeting room on the lower level can be closed off from the main portion of the library, so that it can be used outside of the library’s normal operating hours.
Ms. Lamothe said much thought and consideration were given to the design of the new library, so it would meet the needs of all segments of the population, now and well into the future.
“We serve every demographic of the population, from birth to death,” she said.
The library’s board of trustees is expected to meet with the board of selectmen Thursday, March 3, at the selectmen’s regular meeting at 7 PM at the Human Services Building at 270 Quaker Meetinghouse Road.
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