The library should be a place that is dynamic, indispensable, compatible, welcoming, open, visionary, nurturing, all-encompassing, opportunistic, serendipitous, community-based and inclusive. It should also be, Library Director Lara Keenan said, a place that is “geektastic.” Those were just some of the visions shared by attendees at a library visioning kick-off meeting.
The gathering took place on July 20 at the Town Offices and was led by representatives from Middlebury-based Vermont Integrated Architecture (VIA). The firm was chosen by the town to manage the project, and the kick-off meeting was part of an information-gathering process.
There has been a lot of talk surrounding the proposed project. The goal of the gathering on July 20, Keenan said, was to get everyone into the room at one time to ask questions. Members of the steering committee, Board of Trustees, and Friends of the Library comprised the majority of the attendees.
A number of questions were considered during the meeting. Discussion centered on the role of the current library, on what the community needs and wants, on the makeup of the town, on what the new building should look like, and on what support there is for the project.
One of the common themes was a desire for the new library to be a sort of community center or hub of town life. Part of that community-building plan, part-time library employee Carol Casey hopes, would include the expansion of intergenerational opportunities.
One idea that met with broad support in the room was to have a porch attached to the new building. The vision is for a “rocking chair porch” for the community that encourages socializing.
Along with the desire for increased interaction and activities, attendees also voiced a desire for peaceful and quiet spaces within the building. Town Manager Joe Colangelo noted that it can be an interesting challenge for both quiet and interactive or “rowdy” patrons to co-exist in a library space.
The meeting was a chance for people to weigh in on what direction the new library building should take, but there will be much more discussion. Although things are progressing, the project is still very much in its early stages. More planning of the project as well as the task of fundraising lies ahead.