On Tuesday, May 17th, Rockingham residents will have an opportunity to preserve and improve one of our community landmarks, the Rockingham Free Public Library (RFPL). I urge them to go to the polls and vote for the library restoration project, which cannot go forward without voter approval.
The RFPL, which celebrated its centennial year in 2010, is one of four public libraries in Vermont to be endowed by Andrew Carnegie. A vital community resource, the library saw nearly 12,000 residents attending its programs last year, along with a 15-percent increase in its number of cardholders.
Recently, the library suffered major damage resulting from a burst pipe, adding to already precarious conditions in the 100-year-old building.
Major repair and restoration are urgently needed to prevent further deterioration, to make the library healthy, safe, and code-compliant, to render the building universally accessible, and to provide proper insulation and energy-efficient heating and electrical systems that will lead to cost savings.
In addition, the restored library will provide a large public meeting room, more space for its active youth program, extra seating, shelving, study areas, and improved technology.
Urgent issues such as mold, plumbing, and electrical needs, an aging boiler, and safer access will all be addressed by the proposed renovation.
This is a tall order with a hefty price tag, but the payoffs will be enormous for Rockingham residents and others who use the library regularly.
I urge those eligible to vote to go to the polls on May 17 in support of a free public library that brings so much to our community.