Library work up in the air

LYNDEBOROUGH – You can’t build a library by holding pancake breakfasts.

But that hasn’t stopped some people from trying.

Bob Rogers, a trustee of the J.A. Tarbell Library, has made that statement several times over the past couple of years, and the public has been very supportive of the breakfasts. A recent one held at the school, with a related raffle, raised about $300.

But that is a long way from building what many residents feel is a badly needed addition.

Last March, voters approved $2,000 for the trustees to develop plans for an addition to the library on Forest Road. A survey taken two years ago determined the majority of townspeople preferred to keep the library in the Village area, if at all possible.

Trustees have been considering an addition for more than 10 years, but plans have been delayed while the town built new schools and created town offices at Citizens Hall.

The Budget Committee approved the creation of a capital reserve fund for the addition several years ago, but that goal was never for more than half of the projected costs. The other part was to be raised privately.

In the meantime, construction costs have risen, building codes have become stricter, state and federal grants have become harder to find, and a real fund drive has not been considered _feasible until a renovation plan was in place.

Trustees hope to have that plan available by the end of the year.

The plan being finalized is a two-story clapboard addition designed to complement but not detract from the present building, but its placement is still to be determined.

The library lot is less than a half acre, the back half of which is wet because of drainage from the hill on the opposite side of Route 31. A culvert runs under the parking area.

The first plan put the addition in the present parking lot and moved parking to the opposite side. The two war memorials would be moved to the Common.

Further investigation, however, has shown that it might be possible to put the addition on the rear of the building, where trustees would prefer to put it. That addition would be a sort of “split-level,” with half flights of stairs leading down to a children’s area and up to the adult section. A meeting room with a kitchenette is also planned.

Either plan would requite the addition of handicapped access, a lift of some sort, and new bathrooms. The basement of the present library is damp, access is through a trap door, with minimum bathroom facilities located in a closet in the basement. Outside access to the basement is down a steep bank from the parking lot.

The library was dedicated in 1911, the gift of Joseph A. Tarbell. The town purchased the site of a blacksmith shop, and many townspeople contributed money and labor to the project. It has two rooms and about 700 square feet of floor space on the main floor.

The reading room was furnished by Alice Kimball and Mrs. Charles Whiting. Under both plans being considered, this room, which contains the original furniture and a small fireplace, would again become an adult reading room. It is currently the children’s room.

Over the past few years this room, and every available spot in the larger room, has been filled with bookshelves as library services have expanded. The library is computerized and offers videos, talking books, a copier and fax machine, and inter-library loan services.

“Donations (to the building fund) are always welcome,” Rogers said. “And they are tax deductible.”