Library renovations will create more public space

As soon as contracts are signed with the Connecticut State Library, renovations totaling about $424,000 will start on the Milford Public Library, reclaiming storage and office space for patron use.

Christine Angeli, director of the Milford Public Library, wasn’t holding her breath for a state grant from the Connecticut State Library, Division of Library Development, that would help the city fund library renovations: There wasn’t much funding available, and there were other contenders for the state money.

But last November Angeli learned the Milford library had been awarded a state library grant for $212,750. The grant requires the city match the funds, and Angeli said most of that will come from a previous allocation for library renovations.

State Representative Kim Rose (D-Milford) recently announced the official approval of the funding by the State Bond Commission.

"I am grateful our library will be receiving these much-needed funds that will not only improve the use of space within the building, but will make it more accessible for people with disabilities," Rose said. "I applaud the hard work of the library board and look forward to the project's progress."

The library has 18 months to begin spending the funds after paperwork is signed.

Renovations will be primarily 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 would double the amount of space in the children’s department and make it ADA compliant, Angeli said earlier in the grant process. Today, a virtual cavern 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 just isn’t needed anymore, Angeli explained.

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 would 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 earlier.

But when the story is over, there isn’t enough room for families and children to sit and browse through the books.

“We don’t have the space for children to lounge and read for an hour, and I think that’s really important,” Angeli said.

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 create different areas for children of different ages.

Similar changes would be made upstairs in the adult department, where office and storage rooms and other behind-the-scenes space would be reclaimed to create two small meeting rooms, “something that patrons have been requesting on almost a daily basis,” Angeli said.

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.

"The library is a vital hub of the community, but we need to evolve and change as new regulations and technologies are introduced,” Angeli said.