By Lisa Capobianco
Since the launch of its new 3-D printer earlier this year, the Southington Library has been expanding its technological services. But now there is a growing demand to expand the library itself in an effort to create more space for residents and educational programs.
Built in 1974, the library is 21,000 square feet, which makes it one of the smallest libraries in the state, per capita. According to the Connecticut Public Library, libraries should be 40,000 square feet. Southington Library Executive Director Sue Smayda thinks this is an important issue that needs addressing.
“I’ve seen ten moms and dads sitting on the floor with their children,” Smayda said. “There is just no space.”
Smayda said the library received permission from the town last year to hire an architectural firm. The firm, Tai Soo Kim, has been working with library officials to create a new design that will meet the goals of the library’s Strategic Long Range Plan. The plan includes expanding the children’s department, increasing the sizes of community rooms to seat 100 people and creating two smaller rooms that can fit 30 to 40 event attendees.
“We’re so busy now with programming there’s very little opportunity for community organizations to use the meeting space, and this [plan] would provide that,” Smayda said.
Cindy Wall, the head of the Children’s Services, also thinks the plan is a good idea, considering that all the librarians put on their own programs.
“It’s a busy time and a busy place,” Wall said.
Smayda said the ideal children’s department would have lower shelves as well as more space for parents to sit with their children during storytime and for craft areas. Smayda also stressed the need for the library to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although the library has an automatic door, Smayda thinks the expansion is necessary to accommodate more to people with disabilities.
“We’re small and great, but we could be big and greater,” Smayda said.
Town Manager Gary Brumback supports the library’s need for more space.
“Everyone agrees that the library could use renovations,” Brumback said.
Brumback was uncertain when the town would give the library approval to seek the grant, though Smayda hopes to apply next year.
“I really believe everyone in town wants this to succeed,” Smayda said. “We want to move forward, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”