‘A perfect library’ for Mont Vernon

MONT VERNON – The town’s new public library should also be a community center and feature traditional New England architecture, said residents at a planning session last week.

A cafe, movie room, community garden, and a porch with rocking chairs overlooking Carleton Pond would be nice, too, they said.

About 60 people, including library trustees and staff, worked with DSK Architects at the Sept. 13 session to come up with ideas about the new building.

The town’s Daland Memorial Library is considered one of the smallest in the state for a community its size, and in March voters approved several warrant articles that set in motion plans to build a new one on town-owned land on Grand Hill Road, above Carleton Pond.

Cindy Raspiller, chairwoman of the library building committee, reminded people that the town has been trying for 40 years of expand the library, with several obstacles in the way, including uncertainty about the future of the Daland building. Town ownership of the lot, but not the structure, had complicated the situation.

The Arts and Crafts-style building is a beloved Main Street landmark, and that was clear at the 2005 Town Meeting when a plan to relocate and expand the building failed. Trustees have been working on a way to keep it where it is, and at town meeting this year voters gave their overwhelming support to not only building a new library on another site, but also to buying the Daland building. It will be used for temporary office space during the renovations to the Town Hall and McCollom building, projects that were also approved in March.

Architect Tom Kearns and two associates led the Sept. 13 workshop, first with a slide show going over the basics of the project and then having everyone break out into six groups to develop lists of features they want to see in the new library – if they could design a perfect library on the site, what would be in it?

There seemed to be a consensus about a community room, more books, and a traditional exterior. People said they wanted the library to become the hub of the community and take advantage of the pond and its views. The idea of separate teen and children’s room was also popular across the groups.

Library Director Bonnie Angulas said they have asked for 50 percent more shelf space. Now, “for every book that comes in, a book goes out,” she said.

Other features mentioned were a coffee-tea bar, wood floors, natural lighting, energy efficiency, bike racks, a drop box, big event space, aquarium, good acoustics and kayaks and rowboats to rent for use in the pond. There were a few children at the workshop, and they wanted a “Hobbit house” separate from the main library. Someone suggested laptops that could be checked out, instead of desktop computers.

And Raspiller emphasized the importance of accessibility, so all members of the community can use the library.

Still to be decided are the new building’s size, cost and appearance.

Late this fall the architects will bring back some answers to the three questions, she said, and trustees will look at other sources of funding and probably start a capital campaign.

The next step is to have a schematic design so they can begin fundraising to fill in the gap between the money they have and the money they need, she said.

A child asked when it will be complete, and Raspiller said it would likely be ready in 2020 or after.

The building “should be frugal, functional and inspiring,” the architects said.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.