Letter: New library sounds like a good investment

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 8:48PM
New library sounds like a good investment

To the editor,

I am writing in response to Bernard Woods' letter which appeared Thursday, Aug. 17.

Yes, Peterborough has the first free public library in the nation supported by taxation. That happened in 1833. In 1892 a group of civic-minded and forward-thinking people contributed the funding and the construction expertise to erect the iconic building that is today the anchor of the Peterborough Town Library.

Here is the important point: throughout its history, our library has been supported by both public and private funding. Fiscally speaking, libraries as a whole are not free — someone has to pay for facilities and services. Since there are now in excess of 15,000 public library buildings like ours across the nation, it would seem that Peterborough voters in 1833 had a winning idea. Over and over, communities in the United States (and beyond) have invested in public libraries because the perceived benefits to residents, whether or not they are active patrons, justify the expense.

Declining patronage at PTL? Recent statistics suggest otherwise. The number of active cardholders continues to grow, and the library logs some 200 visits on an average day. Last year the library circulated in excess of 60,000 items. Beyond that, the library does things today it wasn’t doing 50 years ago. Chief among them is providing access to digital resources and instruction.

Meanwhile there is a growing demand for meeting spaces for teens, businesses and others that cannot be met in the current building. The list of shortcomings of the current facility is long, but chief among them are severely limited access for the handicapped and lack of a fire suppression system. These are items that will need fixing whether we build a new library or not, and they will be expensive, the proposed $3 million bond, by the way, will get the townspeople a new, attractive $8.5 million library. To me this sounds like a good investment in the future.

To find out more, go to peterboroughtownlibrary.org/libraryproject/. Alternatively, go to the library, and chat with a staff member. Even though they are quite busy, the staff are friendly and eager to please.

Members of the library Board of Trustees and representatives of the 1833 Society can also be available to discuss the project. Inquiries should be directed to the PTL Capital Campaign office at 924-4342.

Ron McIntire

1833 Society Chair