$100,000 sought for Ingalls Memorial Library renovations

  • Ingalls Memorial Library in Rindge<br/><br/>
  • Ingalls Memorial Library in Rindge.
  • Ingalls Memorial Library in Rindge<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Ingalls Memorial Library in Rindge<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

RINDGE — Completion of the final phase of the Ingalls Memorial Library expansion project is slated for late 2017, but that is dependent upon available funds and voters approving $100,000 this month for future renovations.

If voters approve the $100,000 request at the polls, the Library Trustees will be halfway towards their end goal of $600,000. The trustees have not said when they hope to begin construction, only that they hope to have the project completed in four years.

The total cost of the upgrades — which are projected to add hundreds of additional square footage to all three levels of the library — is approximately $600,000, said Alternate Library Trustee Jim Qualey in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Thursday. As of Jan. 1, the library had set aside about $200,000 towards the project, he said, and the Library Trustees will continue to seek community donations, as well as apply for grants, in the months ahead.

The Library Trustees are asking voters to approve $100,000 in a warrant article next week. That money would be added to the Library Facilities Capital Reserve Fund, and bring the town one step closer to a newly renovated public facility, which was first built in 1894, Qualey said.

Space is the primary concern among the Library Trustees, who say they need more room to manage growing book, magazine and multimedia collections. New community meeting space, Qualey said, would allow the library to host authors and guest speakers more frequently, as well as provide additional room for book groups and the library’s summer reading program.

“One of the deficiencies of our library right now is that we don’t have a good meeting space for members of the community,” Qualey said. “There is a demand for public meeting space in the town in general.”

The additional square footage planned for the lower level children’s area and the library’s main floor are two of the four components of the proposed expansion project; the plan also calls for modernized access to the library’s third floor and the installation of sprinklers throughout the entire building.

Currently, access to the third floor of the library is poor, Qualey said, explaining that the stairs are narrow and were built on a steep incline. The elevator, which now transports patrons from the lower level to the main floor of the library, would be extended to the third floor as a part of future renovations. A second staircase would be built and provide residents and library employees with another form of egress, he said.

“The library has an irreplaceable animal collection,” Qualey said referring to the special collection of preserved animal species that lived in Rindge at the end of the 19th century. “It would be nice to be able to showcase that more.”

With the increasing popularity of electronic reading devices, like the Kindle, Library Trustee Roberta Gordenstein said on Thursday that the public perception is that maybe library services are no longer in high demand. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said.

The library’s collection, including books and multimedia, has increased 43 percent since 2001, according to Qualey. Library usage is on the rise, as well, up 78 percent over the last 20 years.

The library is the heart of the community, Gordenstein said. “In 1894 this building was built and more than 100 years later we are still using it,” she said. “It is for us, but also for future generations. We would like to think that in 2094 it will be there for our great-grandchildren.”

Qualey said that the library ensures that residents have free and open access to a plethora of information and that includes the ability to connect to the Internet. “In Rindge it’s important to provide that access because there are a lot of people in town that don’t have good Internet connectivity. It fills that gap,” he said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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