On a Saturday morning in late March 2023 50 town residents gathered at the ECLC for a LISTENING event hosted by the Library Foundation and the Trustees and was graciously catered by the Friends of the Library. All the information gathered has been shared with SMP Architects, 3 of whom attended this event. The age range for this enthusiastic group was from the unborn through 80ish! Taken with the previous survey, and survey of the ECLC Staff, and this event, approximately 400 residents have had a chance to voice their opinions about a new Barrington Public Library.
ECLC – March 25, 2023, 50 town resident participants, 3 SMP Architects Summary by Ginna Schonwald, Susan Gaudiello, Roger Gingrich
Library Site Location & Exterior Space:
General impression was that, while there are strong advocates for both sites, Ramsdell Lane was the preferred location, partly because of the proximity to the Rec and the ECLC, and because of all the unknowns with the Town Center (where to site, land purchase, timing of availability due to other development, parking, safety regarding sidewalks, street crossing). Many favored an outdoor space for congregating – patio, outdoor deck, porch. Traditional colonial look and post and beam were popular. Concerns were expressed that we do not duplicate presently available meeting space elsewhere in town. (BMS, Town Hall)
Library Interior Space:
Need a space for teens-young adults, and hopefully also senior citizens as well as young children. Multipurpose meeting space was universally recognized as a need, but there were differences of opinion on the size needed. Being able to make that space flexible for different sized groups would be ideal. The “Makerspace” concept or Historical Society space did not come up spontaneously but when prompted it was welcomed. The Humanities grant application in preparation does discuss including displays and preservation of materials. Several people noted that they hope for a library that will have a more pleasant ambiance.
Participants were passionate and clearly invested in sustainability as captured in discussions on solar energy, durability, a high-performance envelope, a balance of environmental impact and long-term cost. Natural lighting and views of the outside were considered important. “Sustainability” was acknowledged to be complex and input from experts would be expected: “There are so many levels to consider, do your homework and do it right.”
Community Center Concept:
Strong sentiment that Barrington needs a freely accessible space for community meetings holding at least 50-75 adults. This multi-purpose room should be flexible for use by different age groups, divisible for 2 small groups to use simultaneously, have restroom availability, and be available after hours. A small kitchen nook was suggested by some. Whether this space was physically connected to the library should include a discussion about the use of the vacated BPL space. A collaborative use with the Rec was felt to be a great idea.