SOUTHINGTON — Library leaders made the case for a larger building at a public information session Monday, citing need, increasing usage and comparisons to neighboring towns.
Library Executive Director Kristi Sadowski and library volunteers explained the constraints they face with the Main Street building to a crowd of more than a dozen residents gathered at the library.
The building was constructed in 1974. It totals 21,000 square feet.
Sadowski identified a host of inadequacies with the current building. There’s little quiet space to study, she said, and the children’s section is too small. Many aisles are too narrow for wheelchairs. Other areas are not up to current fire code, such as landings near the elevator. The decades-old building only has internet lines in one location and has few outlets.
Sadowski also showed the size of larger nearby libraries, some in smaller towns.
“It’s not just about comparison, but it is saying that other towns have bigger libraries because there is a demonstrated need for them,” she said.
While patrons had high praise for the staff and programs, they had harsh words for the library building.
Patricia Corless moved to Southington two years ago from Plainville. She said the town’s library compares poorly to the one in her former hometown.
“I was very disappointed when I came into this library the first time,” she said. “There was no private place for kids, no places for teens… It’s just an inadequate building.”
Corless and others discussed ways to communicate the need for a new library to town leaders. Several of those in attendance Monday said they’d contact Town Council members or speak at council meetings.
Previous plans for a new library ran as high as $19 million. Sadowski said that wasn’t palatable to town leaders.
There is $35,000 requested in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget for a preliminary design of a new building. The council votes on the budget on May 13.
David Monti, a library advocacy committee member, said the town shouldn’t shy away from having some “vision” and being willing to fund it.
“Let’s start talking about vision, let’s start talking about a higher price,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of sitting here in this old building.”