A construction project that will double the amount of space in the children’s department and create new meeting rooms upstairs in the adult department at the Milford Public Library may start as early as this fall.
Christine Angeli, director of the Milford Public Library, said she couldn’t say exactly when work will start but hopes to send the project out to bid in the next few weeks, which could mean a fall start to the project.
The Board of Aldermen on Feb. 4 officially accepted a $212,750 state grant for the library renovations. Alderman Frank Smith said although the project was approved in 2017, it has taken a while to get moving because, since the grant called for matching funds from the city, the city had to come up with its own $212,750. Angeli said funds will come from the unused portion of a 2015 bond package for various library facility upgrades.
Renovations will primarily be aimed at redistributing space within the library, turning office and storage space into space the public can use.
Reclaiming office and other space on the lower level will double the amount of space in the children’s department and make it ADA compliant. Today, a large amount of space just beyond the children’s library is used for office space and storage, and with changes that have taken place since the library was built in 1976, that kind of space isn’t needed anymore, Angeli explained as she was applying for the grant.
The current children’s department is 2,000 square feet, and by expanding into the office and storage space, as well as reclaiming some space now used for technical services and deliveries, another 2,000 square feet will be added.
The library has expanded its programming in recent years, and children’s story hours alone attract 50 to 60 people.
“And that’s a great time to make a connection with families,” Angeli said.
But when the story is over, there isn’t enough room for families and children to sit and browse through the books.
There also isn’t enough room for children in wheelchairs to move down the book aisles conveniently.
Creating more space would also allow the staff to establish different areas for children of different ages. Angeli said 16,000 people a year attend programs in the children’s department.
Similar changes will be made upstairs in the adult department, where office and storage rooms and other behind-the-scenes space will be reclaimed to create two small meeting rooms, “something that patrons have been requesting on almost a daily basis,” Angeli said.
Business people sometimes request space to meet, and students sometimes want a room where they can study together, Angeli added. She said many people work from home these days, and often look to the library for a place to hold meetings “in a technically enabled meeting space.”
The total cost of the project is expected to be $450,000 to $500,000.
Expanding space isn’t a new idea, and it’s something library officials believe will really benefit library patrons.
A study done in the year 2000 study suggested similar changes.
In accepting the funding at their Feb. 4 meeting, several members of the Milford Board of Aldermen praised Angeli and the library staff for its many offerings. Alderman Ellen Beatty pointed out that the library, in addition to its many programs, holds interesting and informative exhibits, including one this month about black history month.