Supporting Welles-Turner Memorial Library, Glastonbury, Connecticut
The Welles-Turner Memorial Library is so last century.
But that is beginning to change as the town, the library’s Second Century Fund, and Friends of the Welles-Turner Memorial Library are funding the $250,000 first phase of a plan to improve the library and — members note — bring it into the 21st century. The town has kicked in $100,000 through its capital improvement plan, with the Second Century Fund adding another $100,000 and the Friends $50,000.
According to library director Barbara Bailey, work will include reconfiguring the express checkout kiosk and moving the customer service desk to the front entrance of the lower level. Other improvements include an automatic sorter for library materials and the construction of two additional study rooms in the upper level of the building.
“We are very lucky to have these two groups supporting the library,” Bailey said.
John Phelan, president of the Second Century Fund, said the group raises money for the library’s long-term capital needs. A $50,000 study done several years ago noted the library needed from $3 million to $5 million in improvements and expansions.
“It came with a large price tag, but clearly laid out what the library could be going forward,” he said. “It’s not just a repository for books. It will always be that, but they are morphing into something greater than that … while it is a beautiful asset today, it could use some more investment to stay aligned with what the state requires and with what the community requires.”
Phelan said he hopes the initial improvement will pique the interest of the community and be able to “get down the road to do a more substantial, major renovation in the future.”
“We, as an organization, are committed to the further renovations of the library and we have substantial assets at our disposal today that we would like to expend on the library. … We hope to partnership with the town and friends to make that happen,” he said.
Other proposed future improvements include expanding the young adult room and creating a 2,000-square-foot “maker space” with 3-D printers and computers that might attract teens to the library. There could be other additions to free up library space for programs and a staff room. Also planned are outside seating areas and terraces. New windows and chairs have already been added to the older portion of the library.
“Our goal is to help people see that we have a terrific library now, but it was designed for the needs of the community in the year 2000,” said Friends president Linda Obedzinski. “We can have an even better library that meets the needs of the community in year 2020 and looking forward from there. We are hoping this is the first step toward a greater renovation.”
Town Council Chairman Stewart “Chip” Beckett III said he appreciated the generous contributions, along with the support and dedication of the groups.
“We’ve talked about library improvements and other capital improvements,” he said. “I’m sure we will spend time talking this summer about when and if and how that will happen.”
Published in The Hartford Courant, June 1, 2017