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105 Ramsdell Lane
Barrington, NH 03825

Library Building Plan : Looking Towards the Future

Proposed Library Floor Plan

Current Library floorplan (3,739 Sq. Ft) houses over 43,000 items.

(View a detailed image HERE)


Library and Community Center Building Plan: Looking Towards the Future

Library Building Project Update: January 2019
The Library Trustees are proceeding with plans to construct a much-needed new library building. Since 2000, the Library has occupied the first floor of the former Police Station on Ramsdell Lane.  The Recreation Department's gym and small office are located on the lower level.
Too small even at the time, the move was intended to be a short-term solution, 10 years at best.  Now, nearly 19 years later, the severe overcrowding in the building is restricting the Library's ability to meet the community's increasing, ever-changing needs. 
The new proposed building will be constructed on the empty, town-owned lot just a stone's throw from the Library's current location. There are several key advantages:  
1. The town already owns the land so there is no need to purchase property. 

2. The Board of Selectmen has voted to approve use of a portion of the parcel for the new Library.  The lot has sufficient remaining space for possible additional use in the future. 

3. The new Library will be just a short, safe walk from the Early Childhood Learning Center. It will continue to serve the preschoolers and kindergarteners at the ECLC, thus saving the costs of equipping and staffing a library at the school.  

4. The services the Library provides to the families participating in the Rec Department's summer camp program on the adjacent field will continue as well.  The Rec Department is expected to expand into the area used by the Library in the current building to provide additional office and program space.  

5. The placement of the new Library and Recreation Department on one "campus" will create a convenient center of community activity without requiring additional travel for citizens. 

A copy of the Library Trustees' presentation at the January 7th public bond hearing can be viewed by clicking here. For the full meeting, please view the recorded meeting here

We welcome your questions, comments and any volunteers who wish to help the Library Trustees 
and Barrington Library Foundation to make this vision a reality. Please contact us:
Lindsey Maziarz, President, BPL Board of Trustees,
Traci Bisson, Chair, Barrington Library Foundation, 664-5776; 

Overview of Building Project
The proposed Library and Community Center building has been included in the current capital improvement plan that has been adopted by the Town. This document  outlines how bonds and building projects may affect the tax rate in the coming years. 

The Friends of the Barrington Public Library also support our new building in part through their fundraising efforts. They recently pledged $25,000 towards the project!  If you are interested in helping out in this manner, please become a Friend of the Library! You can pick up a brochure at the Library front desk for more information, or click here to view the Friends page with more info. 
Click HERE to download the entire Library Building Plan in PDF format.

Click HERE to see a history of the public library in town.

Common Questions:
Q:  Why does Barrington need a new library building?
Barrington's population has grown significantly since the building renovation doubling the library’s space in 2000. The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning predicts the rate of growth to continue, to exceed 10,600 by 2025. Per-capita circulation of materials at the Barrington Library is among the highest in the state: 11 items per person compared to the other six libraries in our population range whose average per person circulation rate is 6. 
Services and programs have also steadily increased even while the size of the existing building has not. The result is severe over-crowding and limitations on the Library's ability to keep pace with citizens' needs and interests.

Every bit of wall and floor space is used up and the building is now packed so full that a patron using a wheelchair or a parent with a child in a stroller cannot easily maneuver through the stacks. Even before the expansion in the current building, the Library Trustees cautioned that it was, at best, no more than a 10-year solution until an adequate facility would be needed. It has now been nearly 17 years. Because of the space constraints, the Library is forced every month to discard items from its collection and to place people on waiting lists for classes and room reservations. 
The current library is 3,739 square feet. Recognized library standards recommend a facility of 17,000 square feet to meet current and future needs for a community of Barrington's size. However, the volunteer Building Committee and staff have worked to identify space efficiencies that could minimize the building footprint and still meet residents' needs for decades to come. As a result of this diligent effort, the new facility will be approximately 12,300 square feet on the main floor, plus approximately 3500 square feet in the basement (see item #5 above).
Q:  How was the decision to build a new library determined? 
  The Library Trustees recognized the need for a new facility many years ago based on citizens' requests for more materials, services and programs. The Trustees contracted with a library consultant to conduct a Needs Assessment. After a comprehensive evaluation of the existing facility and other potentially available buildings and land in town, the consultant concluded that new construction would be the most cost-effective approach. The full report can be viewed above. Although it is a bit dated, the information is still valid and valuable. 
Q:  What will be the impact on my property taxes? 
  The construction of a new library building will be funded, at least in part, by our property taxes. However, it is too early to be able to estimate a dollar figure. Variables include location, design, the tax rate for the bond at the time the project is approved, and other factors. The Trustees are acutely sensitive to adding to residents' taxes and are committed to exploring alternative funding sources such as private donations and grants, to reduce the amount requiring a bond.  It is important to keep in mind that the new Library is an investment in the quality of life in our town. Whatever the initial impact of the bond, the yearly per household assessment will diminish over the life of the bond. 
Q:  Why doesn't the Library leadership raise its own funds for the new building?
  In fact, the recently created non-profit Barrington Library Foundation is actively seeking financial support from a variety of private sources to reduce the amount of public funding.  Even so, as a municipal service and community resource (sometimes referred to as "a town's living room"), a proper library is a perfectly appropriate use of taxpayers' money.  And what donor will be motivated to contribute to the library project if the community itself did not support it with some measure of public investment?
Q:  Will a new library cost more to operate and staff?
  There will likely be additional costs related to the new, larger building.  But the Building Committee has worked hard with the architects to create design and materials options to create a high-performance "green" facility to minimize operating costs. The current annual per-capita cost to operate the library is $33.33.  Staffing may increase over time based on ever-rising usage whether we build a new library or not. A best guess regarding the annual per household tax increase to both operate the Library and pay off the bond would amount to, for example, the cost of 2 hard-bound books, movie tickets and a beverage for 2 people, and much less than monthly cable service. Books, movies and Internet connection are free at the Barrington Library.
Q:  Dover and Rochester both have libraries within 10 miles of town.  Why should we have a larger library?
Barrington residents can use our neighbor's libraries -- but at a cost.  Dover charges non-residents an annual fee of $200 and Rochester charges $60. Barrington Public Library cards are available for free to our residents. As mentioned above, at $33.33 to fund the current Library operation - even if it should increase somewhat with a new library - a Barrington library card will still be a bargain compared to Dover and Rochester. 
Q:  Haven't computers, the Internet and E-Readers made libraries obsolete?
 The answer is a resounding "no."  According to the American Library Association (and many other studies), "Far from hurting American libraries, the Internet has actually helped to spur more people to use their local libraries because it has increased our hunger for knowledge and information."   Furthermore, many people turn to their library for high-speed access to the Internet under the guidance of trained and educated professionals.  The ALA concludes:  "Our libraries are investments in our communities and in our future with an incredibly high return on each dollar spent."

Locally, the statistics bear this out as well.  In 1997, for example, the Barrington Public Library circulated 19,828 items. Last year, the Library circulated over 88,000 items and 10,334 people attended our programs. Our services include offering content for patrons' new e-readers and audio book players.  It is simply a shift in how we provide materials to some of our patrons. Meanwhile, in 2016, studies are showing that e-book use is hitting a plateau while print book circulation continues to rise. The Library will always need to offer both books and technology. There are still a very large number of patrons who do not have the funds to buy Internet access or e-readers and need books in physical formats. The suggestion that we can stop buying and providing books should be considered differently:  if we do not offer printed books, the Library will begin to serve only the portion of townspeople who can afford an e-reader, thus creating a second class of citizens with no access to information or leisurely reading.

Q:  Who will benefit from the new library/community center?
  Every resident of Barrington will benefit, even those who don't patronize it. Barrington residents made over 46,000 visits to the Library last year despite the current cramped conditions. As part of the opportunities available to our residents, the Library will make Barrington a more appealing place in which to live and work. And, with its additional meeting areas, the new Library will be able to offer expanded classes and workshops and to provide a location for the many groups in town now struggling to find gathering space.

Executive Summary and Needs Assessment Report:

with Updates in 2015 to Statistics
Melissa Huette, Director
        Barrington Public Library
105 Ramsdell Lane
     Patience Kenney Jackson
     Library Building Consultant
The Barrington Public Library has been housed since 1972 on the upper level of a two-story Butler building. The lower level houses the Town’s Recreation Center. Remodeled and expanded in 2000, the library’s 3,739 square feet must house a collection of 42,604 (2015) books and media, eight public access computers and 22 reader seats, as well as all staff work areas. There is a small multipurpose room that serves as a public meeting and story hour space. This is also the only preschooler seating and play area.

The Town of Barrington has experienced dramatic growth since 1970, when the population was only 1,865; it had grown to 8,071 residents by 2006. Projections from the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning predict a population for Barrington of 10,600 by 2025. As the population has increased, use of the Barrington Public Library has increased accordingly, with 88,000 items circulating in 2015. Children’s/teen books represent about 70% of total book circulation.  The library’s computers were accessed 8,082 times in-house in 2015 and had 40,000 hits on the library website. The automatic door counter showed 46,675 visits in 2015. In addition to the expected collections and services, the library is also offering about 50 programs or events per month, an average of 12.5 per week.

Library space is quite limited, offering only about 0.43 square feet per capita for the 2015 population. To put this ratio in context, the 1970 population of 1,865 would have had a library that offered perhaps a bit more than .50 square foot per capita (approx. 950 sq. feet) - and this was in the days before computers, video and audio collections, or large print books. Yet in 2016, the library has 0.43 square foot per capita.

The library is simply too small to effectively serve such a large number of residents; parking is limited, the building itself is unprepossessing and difficult to locate, there is no separate Children’s Room and Young Adult collections and activities have limited space or must share space with the multipurpose/preschool area. There are issues of accessibility and sound transfers between the library and the adjacent gymnasium space making quiet study impossible. The custodial area is shared with the staff kitchen.  Meeting room space is limited to a room used intensely for children’s and young adult programming as well as to house collections. Staff work space is limited to a very small office for the Director and an open space behind the circulation desk for 6 other employees plus volunteers. The present library facility of 3,739 gross square feet is doing the job of a 6,809 square foot facility today, creating a cramped library with no room for future growth.

Trustee planning for a larger library began back in 2000. At the time, it was recognized that the expansion into space abandoned by the police department could only alleviate the overall challenge of planning a new library building for a few years. The library Trustees stated at that time (2000) that the expansion could be no more than a ten-year solution at best. A Library Building Consultant was retained in June, 2004 to evaluate and comment upon possible options, including school and town buildings available at that time. During the spring and summer of 2006, a full Library Building Program has been developed by the library consultant, with extensive input from the Library Director and Trustees. The Building Program, dated September, 2006, estimates the size of a library facility to serve the Town of Barrington for the next twenty years to be 17,825 gross square feet, as outlined in the space needs chart on the following page.  This plan has been revisited multiple times since 2006 by the staff and architects.  A somewhat pared down version of the library is expected to be suggested to the Town, bringing the square footage down to approx. 12,500-13,00 sq. ft. in order to make building costs affordable. Final sq. footage and costs can only be determined once the architect has a preliminary floor plan based upon the needs in this report.
 Any decisions concerning the plan for a new library/community center will be reflected in regular Trustee meeting minutes which are available in-library.  The most current 6-12 months of Trustee minutes may be found Online.