The Barrington Library has been housed in a metal building on Ramsdell Lane for the past 45 years, initially shared with the-then Town Hall and Police. In 2000, the Library expanded into the entire top floor, a 3,700 square foot area, one-third the size recommended for a town with Barrington’s population. The Recreation Department gym, small office and the Food Pantry are located below. The Library also provides services for the young students at the Early Childhood Learning Center next door who visit daily for literacy time.
Despite the staff’s heroic efforts to utilize every inch of space, the current building presents many issues that restrict the Library’s ability to carry out its mission fully and to provide a welcoming, comfortable experience for visitors. The most pressing problem is not enough room.
Patrons can’t get to the shelves when groups meet at the back table. It’s difficult for visitors with mobility challenges, and parents with with young children in strollers, to maneuver around the tight furniture arrangements and shelving units that extend to the back walls.
There is only one meeting room, the Children’s Room, which can accommodate only 30 people. When programs or meetings are scheduled, we must ask the families leave. Frequently, people must stand outside the door blocking the staff behind the circulation desk, an entire aisle of children’s books, and the DVD collection. The room is also in such high demand by other local groups that too often we are unable to schedule them or must maintain waiting lists.
The shelves are so jam-packed that new books can be added only when another is removed.
At nearly 7 feet high, it’s difficult for both patrons and staff to reach books on the top and bottom shelves.
There are no quiet areas in which to study, read, or be tutored.
Noise travels throughout the building from the gym below and the Children’s Area.
There are no areas specifically designated for Middle School and High School students.
The 12’x12′ staff office, about the size of a large walk-in closet, is especially cramped. There are only 4 seats for 7 employees, their work stations, and supplies.
The staff break room seats only 2 people. The room doesn’t have a fridge large enough for staff lunches or program refreshments. The room also contains the custodian’s sink, closet, and storage for cleaning supplies. Other cleaning equipment must be stored in a wooden shed outside.
Wiring for technology needs is inadequate as well. There are too few stations where patrons can charge their electronic devices, and there is no dedicated server room to house the network hardware. It’s tucked into a corner of the Director’s already cramped office.
Over the decades, the growing collection of print and digital materials, expanded programming (562 programs for adults, teens and children over the past year, for example), additional equipment, services, and staffing to serve our citizens has vastly outpaced the capacity of the current building.