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Peterborough residents discuss priorities for town library

PETERBOROUGH — Opportunities for community building and more space for children were identified as top priorities for the Peterborough Town Library during a forum on “The Library of the Future” held at Bass Hall on Feb. 16.

“We had about 90 people attend and there was really positive energy,” said Tina Kriebel of Peterborough, a member of the 1833 Society who served on the steering committee for the forum. “Everyone was asked what the library has to be in 10 years in order to remain vibrant and relevant.”

The 1833 Society is a group made up of supporters of the library that is working on long-term fundraising plans and an eventual design for library renovations.

Kriebel said last week that several themes arose during the discussion.

“People agreed that the library is a community meeting place. It should be a place where everyone is welcome and has opportunities to join with people who have common interests,” she said.

Participants also agreed on the importance of education.

“Education is for all ages,” Kriebel said. “It starts before you can read and goes on to continuing education. There were suggestions about study rooms, places to take classes together, a place were people could come to do instruction.”

Audrey White, a 1833 Society member who attended the forum, said the open floor plan of the current library makes it difficult to have quiet areas for reading while children’s programs, which can be noisy, are going on.

“People would like to see more for children,” said White. “We need more space for them and more programs.”

Kriebel said several people suggested having a place where people could get together to work on projects, especially with middle- and high-school students.

“People talked a lot about the space being flexible, and how the library needs to be set up so it can be reactive and dynamic,” she said. “There’s definitely a change in focus from objects to people. A library’s not just a building to store things in. It’s a place for people to come to.”

White said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss what programs and services the library should offer.

“We didn’t get into bricks and mortar, but everyone agrees the building needs upgrades,” White said. “People did talk a bit about the property and parking.”

White said Dan Reidy of the UNH Extension, who moderated the meeting, will provide a report for the 1833 Society.

“The next step will be a feasibility study about fundraising,” White said. “We’ll probably need to work concurrently on design and fundraising.”

Kriebel said any renovation is expected to be funded through donations, with no money coming from town funds.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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