Commentary: How do you want the library to grow?

Kristi Sadowski, Southington Public Library director
sadowskik@southington.org

The Southington Public Library has been in the news frequently as of late, as we try to bring awareness of a necessary building project to the community. The library and museum board of directors and library staff are hard at work evaluating Southington’s needs and analyzing options for growth.

Tappé Architects has been brought on to the project to assist with the board’s work and to create plans for the future. This firm has worked on over 90 library projects and has been the recipient of awards from the American Library Association and American Institute of Architects.

We are hoping to showcase our plans for a fiscally responsible and dynamic building sometime this winter. Until then, we are asking for the community’s help in making plans for our future by completing this brief survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/SouthingtonLibFuture. After all, the Southington Public Library is a place for people and your input is needed to make it the best it can be. Paper copies are available at the library.

Today I would like to answer a couple of questions that I am frequently asked.

1) Is the Library still relevant?

Yes! The numbers speak for themselves. Last year there were more than 202,000 visits to the Southington Public Library and over 380,000 items were borrowed. Only 8.9% of those were digital, showing that physical items are still in high demand by Southington residents.

Additionally, libraries are no longer just places for resources; instead they are cultural and social centers that encourage collaboration, offer classes and concerts, and provide services and resources to every member of our community.

2) What is wrong with the existing building?

The short answer is that the Southington Public Library does not meet fire code, is not ADA accessible, and the HVAC systems have surpassed their useful lifespan and now cost thousands of dollars in repairs and maintenance annually.  We need to have a building that offers safe equal access to all members of our community.

The doors to the 255 Main Street building opened in 1974 and has not been substantially upgraded since then. During that time, the town population has increased by over 30%, the number of items borrowed has increased by 168%, the collection has more than doubled, and program attendance has grown by an astounding 479%. The building as designed in 1974 does not provide adequate space for modern library services and the demand from Southington residents.

3) What will an upgraded building offer?

The future Southington Public Library will be more eco-conscious and accessible to all. Top priorities will include increasing quiet spaces and group study areas. Substantial attention will also be given to enhancing our children’s room so children can safely engage in developmental play and work on literacy skills. There will be comfortable seating for seniors, and meeting spaces for community organizations.

To learn more about the project, please visit www.southingtonlibrary.org/future-plans.html and be sure to complete the survey. Additional comments, questions, and concerns can be directed to SouthingtonPublicLibrary@southington.org.

Kristi Sadowski is the director of the Southington Public Library. To learn more, visit them at www.SouthingtonLibrary.org.

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