Groton on the Inside: Groton Public Library’s expansion plan ready to roll

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The Groton Public Library welcomed a gathering of interested community members to a special session on Tuesday, Dec. 11, where those in attendance were able to view the architectural renderings for GPL’s upcoming 2,000 square foot expansion plan and learn more about the building phases it will entail.


Sara Knobel, library director, told me the project was approved to move forward by the GPL’s board of directors at its monthly meeting earlier that same evening, and Jim Turner was hired as the clerk of the works for the project.


Phase I, which includes changes to the existing library, is expected to be underway imminently, and they hope to break ground for Phase II as early as March of 2019, pending the proverbial hoops that must be jumped through before the library receives the various grant monies that have been committed to the renovations; both through a New York State Library Construction grant and the State Assistance to Municipalities (SAM) grant, which was secured by the efforts of Senator James Seward and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.


The library’s front entrance and “front of the house,” so to speak, will not change all that much from the door to the circulation desk, in the spirit of preserving most of its original charm. Beyond that, the “back of the house” will essentially flip the children’s and youth areas with the existing stacks so that the noise sometimes created from the various kid’s programs will be better contained at the rear of the building – leaving a nice space between the back of the circulation desk and the beginning of the kid’s area to house the books in the stacks.


One of the nicest parts of this project, at least in my opinion, is that the original cast iron bookshelves that were in the library from the time it was built in 1917 were saved in the basement and will be brought up to house the books once again. That area will become the traditional library setting it once was, where quiet will be maintained for those who enjoy just being able to relax and lose themselves in the pages of one of the many great reads on those shelves.


Knobel also let me know that there will be some sort of clear, soundproof glass that will separate the traditional space from the kid’s areas in the back in order to better ensure their safety because it will enable them to be seen much better, and two fully handicapped-accessible bathrooms will be added.


Phase II, the actual expansion, will come later, once the funding has all arrived, and will involve the 2,000 square feet of space added on to the back of the library, as well as a full basement underneath it. Eventually, it is hoped that an elevator could be added to make that space more accessible for more usage.


In the meantime, as can be seen in the architectural renderings, the addition will house a kitchen, expanded office spaces, a tutoring room, and a large open space that will be much more conducive to some of the library programs such as movie nights, special dinners, and the like. Knobel said she plans to be able to offer cooking classes in the future and other offerings that have just not been possible in the limited space there now. The youth programming alone has grown to the point where some children have had to be turned away due to lack of space.


Our library is truly a hub of activity in our community, and attendance has escalated from 1,898 in 2015 to 3,119 in 2017, resulting in a 64 percent increase. At that rate, it is certainly no wonder that more space is needed!

More library happenings

The Groton Public Library’s free monthly community meal will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18. A healthy meal with seasonally appropriate produce will be served.


The GPL monthly book club will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20. Join the club for great books and discussion! Get your copy of this month’s book, “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn, at the circulation desk.


Free food and clothing
During this busy, hectic, and budget-straining time of year, Groton Food Providers reminds all Groton town and village residents about its food pantry. Beginning at 10 a.m. every second and fourth Saturday of each month at The Joyce Crouch Benevolence Building, 701 S. Main St, the Groton Food Pantry (GFP) is open for business, providing free food until 11:30 a.m.


Donations of canned or other non-perishable food are always welcome, as are cash donations of any amount. For any questions you may have, please contact Jess Stone at (607) 592-4825, or visit the GFP website at grotonassembly.org/groton-food-providers.


The Groton Women’s Center Clothing Closet, 112 McKinley Ave., where women, children, and men may receive gently-used clothing completely free of charge, would also like to remind everyone to stop by during its regular hours from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month.


Donations of clothing are also gratefully accepted during these hours, but at this time they are not accepting any spring or summer fashions.


Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or (607) 227-4922.

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