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Guilford library unveils plans for improvements

Trustees start planning process for upgrades, starting with ‘old, disgusting rug’

GUILFORD—Officials with the Guilford Free Library announced their capital improvement plans at the May 30 regular Selectboard meeting.

The plans are still in the preliminary phase. Cathi Wilken, librarian, and Laura Lawson Tucker, chair of the Board of Trustees, brought their ideas to the Selectboard to get members’ advice and approval.

“The purpose for coming [...] is to have strong, clear communication between the Trustees and the Selectboard,” Tucker said.

Tucker said the Board of Trustees recently drafted a strategic plan, and what emerged were two projects.

The least expensive and time-consuming is “remove the old, disgusting rug” from the adult collection, Tucker said, and refinish and seal the wooden floor beneath.

The rug was placed there to help keep the room warm, but now that the building has more insulation from work on its foundation, it is no longer needed.

The Trustees want to hire a professional to provide an estimate, especially because this project is complicated by the library’s large bookshelves.

Once it’s time to award the contract for the floor work, the Board of Trustees may have some latitude. Administrative Assistant Peder Rude noted that if the project costs less than $1,500, the Trustees don’t need Selectboard approval.

And if the project’s estimate is less than $2,500, the Trustees don’t have to send out a request for bids. These are rules the Selectboard established, Rude added.

Tucker pointed out the Trustees will pay for this work, and they recently received a bequest to boost their endowment. “We’re not asking the town to do this,” she said.

The second project is to construct an addition to the library building.

Tucker said she and the other Trustees solicited input from a variety of community members, and “what we found is that a lot of people agree with us, that having more space [in the library] would be excellent.”

“We need more program, meeting, and study space,” Wilken said.

She listed some specific needs: Move the Vermont Collection into the addition to give researchers some work space, free up some room and add comfortable seating to the children’s section, add a private room for patrons to use the high-speed wireless Internet, and create a study space in the adult room.

The adult section also needs more square footage, said Wilken, because it’s “bursting at the seams!”

Staff needs that could be met by an addition include a small kitchen “so we don’t have to heat our food in the bathroom,” Wilken said.

The next step is to hire an architect or builder to turn the ideas into blueprints, Tucker said.

Selectboard member Gordon Little recommended the Trustees research planning grants to help pay for the professional assistance.

Board member Richard Wizansky said he would soon meet with Katie Buckley, commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development, to discuss grant options.

These plans are part of the town-wide capital needs assessment, Tucker said. Board Chair Sheila Morse expressed her support, and said the plans are a good test-case for turning the capital-needs assessment into actual projects.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #463 (Wednesday, June 13, 2018). This story appeared on page A1.

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