Tilton Library Building Committee appointed, temporary space sought

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 01-13-2023 4:09 PM

DEERFIELD — With the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ grant paperwork signed, the town has appointed a Library Building Committee and is seeking a temporary location for Tilton Library materials and operations for when construction begins later this year.

The Library Building Committee, featuring several town board members and three residents, will start meeting as soon as possible, with the first meeting taking place in late January, according to Tilton Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin, who will also serve on the committee.

Other members include Selectboard member Tim Hilchey, Library Trustee Satu Zoller, Friends of Tilton Library member Judy Holmes, resident and engineer Eva Tor, Thayer Street Associates owner Vern Harrington and a Finance Committee member. Finance Committee Chair Julie Chalfant was mentioned as a choice, but the committee will make its decision at its next meeting.

“They’re community members and they’ve been library patrons and supporters,” Selectboard member Carolyn Shores Ness said of the committee’s makeup before the board voted to appoint the first six members.

Speaking by phone Thursday, Bradbury-Carlin said the Library Building Committee will act as a liaison between the community and the architects and engineers who are working on the $12.3 million expansion and renovation project. She said the committee expects to meet next Monday and will then meet every other week until the new library’s design is complete.

“The sooner we have the design completed, the sooner we can go out to bid for construction,” Bradbury-Carlin said, adding that part of the committee’s role includes “having a public forum and getting community feedback and suggestions.”

Additionally, Bradbury-Carlin said there may be subcommittees focused on certain aspects of the design, such as interior furniture and technology. A teen advisory board may be formed to incorporate teen and youth input into the process, too.

“As time goes by we’ll know what will be the most helpful,” Bradbury-Carlin said.

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The library project will expand the building on North Main Street from 4,366 square feet to 12,784 square feet. The largest funding source for the project is the $4 million Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners grant the library received in July. Supplementing the grant, Tilton Library is conducting a fundraising drive to raise $2 million; another $1 million could come from residents voting on appropriating Community Preservation Act funding at a later date; and $100,000 is expected from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

With these funding sources, the town is expected to borrow between $5.26 million and $6.26 million to complete the project. Voters ratified a debt-exclusion override by a vote of 909-707 in December following approval at Special Town Meeting in October.

Temporary library location

Part of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ grant requires Tilton Library to find a temporary location ahead of the start of construction so it can continue to operate and store materials off-site. At Wednesday night’s Selectboard meeting, a preliminary list of possible locations was discussed.

Sites include the old Cumberland Farms building in South Deerfield, empty buildings and rooms available at the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association or Historic Deerfield, temporary classrooms at Deerfield Academy or Eaglebrook School, Tree House Brewing Co.’s office spaces, or the buildings across from the Red Roof Inn.

With these ideas in hand, the library is tasked with gathering all information and MBLC requirements needed for its space, as it finds which businesses and organizations are willing, and able, to host the library for its operations or storage. Shores Ness explained by phone that the town is hopeful Tilton Library will be able to work with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) through this process, but the town will issue a request for proposals (RFP) if needed.

“If we have to, we will certainly assist the library in doing an RFP,” she said.

Bradbury-Carlin explained the MBLC requires a temporary location for library operations to have internet capable of supporting patrons and library technology, heating and cooling, plumbing and a restroom. It must also be fully accessible.

How the library operates in its temporary location, however, is mostly in the hands of the staff. Bradbury-Carlin said bestsellers and the library’s most popular items will be available and the children’s room will probably have “the biggest collection in our temporary space because it’s the most active group.”

While the timing of construction has yet to be set because it depends on when the design is finished and the bidding process, Bradbury-Carlin said the work “ideally would start in November,” meaning the library’s temporary location would open a month before that.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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