Like many of you out there, I was that kid who had to be nagged to put away the book and join the family for meals, which I did, begrudgingly. I read seemingly constantly, devouring almost anything I could get my hands on. Had my mom been willing to serve us cold cereal rather than 70s health-nut whole-grain porridge, I would have had my eyes glued to the nutritional and promotional information on the box.
The library was as familiar to me as my own house. I shopped (and still do) for books the way one might shop for groceries in the face of an impending hurricane: stocking up reading material to weather the storm, in case I didn’t get back for a few days.
Over the years, my relationship with the library has changed and evolved according to my phase of life. In my pre-internet college life, the library was the only place — other than professors’ offices — to do research. (Millennials, can you even imagine?!) Once I had children, the library was an oasis of entertainment and a place to meet other parents and kids. And now, for me the library is like a candy store, only the candy is free and doesn’t cause cavities. If books were a vice, I’d be an addict, and Dawn and Sally would be my dealers.
But as most of us know, libraries are downright awesome! And that’s why so many of us are so excited about the plans for the eventual new Winthrop Library, and why more than 50 people showed up on Sunday for the library’s design workshop — because they believe in their local library’s role as an integral place for communities to gather, connect, and discover.
Some of the participants showed up for the workshop in biking and hiking clothes, interrupting their Sunday plans to talk about a library. First, new Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL) Executive Director Jill Sheley welcomed the group and thanked the Town of Winthrop, the state Legislature, and the community for sharing their hopes and dreams.
Winthrop Mayor Sally Ranzau noted that while the town will own the library, it will serve the valley-wide community, as do the other community libraries in the NCRL system.
FOWL board chair Shannon Huffman Polson shared the results of the community needs assessment, which determined that the library will integrate with and extend critical and cherished valley services and organizations, providing resources for arts and culture, social services, education and economic development.
Next, the architects for the project, Margo Peterson-Aspholm (Prentiss Balance Wickline) and Ray Johnston (Johnston Architects) shared four sketch options and design layouts. On July 13, they will present a 3D further iteration of the design with elevations.
Considerations raised by the community for the library design are numerous, ranging from questions about the roof design and snow plan, to vehicle and bike parking, to heating/cooling costs, to acoustics, to storage, to accommodations for separating book spaces from civic spaces. Everyone acknowledged that the library will need to evolve to meet the changing needs of the community.
The state has committed to cover part of the cost of the library, and a generous donor has offered to contribute 50% of the funds necessary to purchase an adjacent lot to expand the available space. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to the Winthrop Library project, the folks at FOWL are available any time to talk with you about ways to invest in the library (www.winthroplibraryfriends.org).