Expanding horizons

Library of the Future

PETERBOROUGH — The town’s “Library of the Future” project is getting underway, with an announcement Monday that an architectural firm has been hired and a $6 million capital campaign is being planned.

At the annual meeting of the 1833 Society on Monday, board member David Simpson introduced Gary Corey and Andrew Buchsbaum of Centerline Architects, a Bennington, Vt., firm that was one of four companies that made presentations to the 1833 Society Board of Trustees.

“We selected Centerline based on their library work,” said Simpson, noting that the company has done library designs for Bennington College and is currently working to refurbish the public library in Stockbridge, Mass.

Corey and Buchsbaum showed slides of several of their projects, some quite contemporary and others that merged older brick buildings like Peterborough’s with integrated additions that maintained a traditional look.

“We’re fluid in working in different styles,” Corey said. “Everything we’ve done is sensitive to the context of the building.”

The 1833 Society is a nonprofit organization that Interim Chair Ron McIntyre said has a two-part mission — to assist in planning for and designing a renovated and updated library facility and to raise funds, through private donations and grants, to finance the project.

“We have a vision for the future,” McIntyre said at Monday’s meeting. “It may take years to achieve. We are confident that with the community behind us we can go forward.”

On Wednesday, McIntyre said the project is still in the early stages of planning.

“We’ve seen some ideas. We have a lot to do before library is designed,” he said. “One of the next steps will be to get together with the library trustees, the new director and her staff to discuss what programming will taking place.”

Librarian Corinne Chronopoulos, who was completing her first official day on the job on Monday, told the 1833 Society members that she’s looking forward to working with them.

“My job is the fun part,” Chronopoulos said. “I need to make the library even more awesome than it already is. I believe the public library is a cornerstone of the town.”

She said she is hoping to give the current library a bit of a facelift inside, increase traffic, develop new programs and build the library’s own website. She said the library is somewhat limited right now in what it can offer in the way of technology, which is something she hopes to change as a new facility is planned.

“Residents should look to the library as the place they can go for technology help,” Chronopoulos said.

The plan is to preserve the original portion of the library, which was built in 1892, and the portico that faces Main Street. Construction of an addition would most likely take place on the back of the building, where the wing of the library sits, and might expand into the current parking area.

At Monday’s meeting, McIntyre announced that the 1833 Society has made an offer to buy a section of land behind the Fairpoint building on Concord Street, which sits adjacent to the parking lot.

The group has offered Fairpoint $28,000, he said. If the land is purchased, a large garage on the site, which is next to the Contoocook River, would need to be torn down in order to make the land suitable for expanded parking. McIntyre said an environmental survey would be required to see if there are any contaminants in the building or on the site. He estimated that testing would cost an additional $6,000 to $10,000, and said the total cost to acquire the land would probably be about $40,000.

That land purchase is just one of the immediate needs that Tina Kriebel, vice chair of the 1833 Society, said will be necessary as the group plans for a $6 million capital campaign.

In the near future, she said, the first phase of the project will get under way, as the group works with Centerline to develop ideas, set a budget, and prepare preliminary plans to show at public meetings. That’s expected to cost about $50,000.

Kriebel said the group also plans to hire a part-time capital campaign director to design and plan the campaign, at a cost of about $65,000.

“I believe in the project,” Kriebel said. “The cost is in line with what other communities have done. We all know the value of our library.”

Kriebel said the library building project would be synchronized with the planned renovation of the Main Street bridge in front of the library, with the bridge project most likely being done first.

The library building and the land it is on are owned by the town of Peterborough.

“The town covers the great majority of operating expenses, including salaries, maintenance and utilities,” McIntyre said on Wednesday. “Extra money for programming sometimes comes from the Friends of the Library. They have been very supportive, especially of programs for children.”

The capital campaign, McIntyre said, is intended to raise all the money needed for a renovated library from private donations and grants, so that no taxpayer money will be required.

“I know the need for a new library is great and I expect most of you do too,” McIntyre said at Monday’s meeting. “Now it’s a matter of spreading the gospel until we reach critical mass. We all have to work together — the 1833 Society, the library trustees, the Friends of the Library. We have to demonstrate how the library can be made more relevant that ever. Let’s not put this off until 2033.”

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