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What the main room at Brooks Memorial Library looked like March 30, with all the work completed.

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Serene makeover

Renovations at Brooks are complete, with a brighter and more spacious library emerging

BRATTLEBORO—The weeks of dirt and disruption are over, and patrons of the Brooks Memorial Library can now see the finished product that is the first big makeover of the library in years.

Library Director Starr Latronica is happy to show off the newly-completed main reading room. During the week of March 20, the bookcases, shelves, and furniture were moved out so new flooring could be put in.

By March 27, the room was ready to be reopened and, three days later when The Commons visited, there was no signs of the chaos from a week earlier. Instead, there was new tiling near the front window and new carpeting leading toward the book stacks at the rear of the library.

Upstairs, the Children’s Room had been renovated and a new Teen Room was open on the second floor.

Other little changes include moving the microfilm files to the expanded Local History room on the mezzanine level, a new first-floor bathroom, and more spaces for meetings and quiet study.

The renovations were made possible by the 2015 bequest of Ronald Read, who left the library more than $1.2 million.

Latronica said the pattern on the carpet on the first floor of the library was chosen as a subtle tribute to Read.

“One of our volunteers said she remembers Mr. Read always gathering up fallen branches for kindling for his fire,” Latronica said. “To all of us who were selecting the carpeting, this pattern looked like sunlight filtered through tree branches. We thought, ’what could be more perfect?’”

Another design choice, according to Latronica, was to break up the hard right angles made by the DVD and CD shelving. The discs got moved into the stacks, and the shelves for magazines, newspapers, and new books were rearranged.

“We wanted to change the sight lines, so we moved the CD and DVD shelves. There’s now less plastic on the main floor, only books,” she said. “And we curved the tiled area to enhance the lack of right angles. Someone told us that it reminded them of the curve of the Whetstone [Brook].”

As a result of all the changes, the main room is now more spacious and inviting.

There are fewer tables and chairs in the center of the room. The chairs by the front window remain, but now patrons can drink coffee and eat a snack while they read. The magazines are still in the same place, against the south wall, but the newspapers are now closer to the front window.

Latronica said she is pleased with how the renovations came out, and she thanked the library’s patrons for being patient through all the disruptions caused by the most ambitious redesign of Brooks since the current library building opened in 1967.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #402 (Wednesday, April 5, 2017).

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