Trustees Seek to Make Library 'More User-friendly'

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By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, January 23, 2003

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]

HAMPTON — It was about two decades or so ago that the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton underwent an extensive renovation project which added generous amounts of workable space to the existing building that is located on the corner of Winnacunnet Road and Academy Avenue.

In more recent times, however, it has become apparent that a few modifications would serve to make the building “even more user-friendly,” according to Library Trustee Lenore Patton.

Patton and her fellow trustees (Mary Lou O’Connor, Sara Casassa; Barbara Rallis and Judy Geller) are currently exploring ways, says Patton, to “make better use of the space we have.”

Patton lists a number of modifications that the board would like to see possibly take place at some point in the future, among them re-opening the front entrance; making the building more handicapped-accessible; adjusting the position of the ceiling light fixtures over the bookstacks; and expanding the Children’s Room and the Lane Room on the lower level.

“We’ve hired a consultant [from Real Funds Consulting] to help us with this project,” says Patton. She adds that the trustees plan to survey library patrons for their input, and will seek responses obtained through a special mailing to the general community. Library staff members have also added their own thoughts as to what modifications would be most beneficial to those who work at and patronize the library.

Patton says the current location of the wheelchair ramp has long been a concern, particularly because weather conditions during the winter months often make the ramp a treacherous route to travel and lessen its handicapped-accessible capabilities. A large open area downstairs outside the Children's Room and the Lane Room has been deemed “wasted space” that would he useful for expansion of those two rooms. And redirecting the lighting over the bookstacks (currently, say Patton, "the stacks go one way, the lights go another") would add more light and less shadow for those browsing the library shelves.

Other changes the trustees have discussed include installing a walkway and benches on the library grounds, and adding a handicapped-accessible bathroom on the upper floor.

While Patton emphasizes that “this is not a big building project,” she acknowledges that it will take funding to bring any changes into fruition. To that end, the library board of trustees will be hosting a benefit fundraiser featuring Prescott Park Arts Festival production of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”

The event, which will take place on Saturday, February 15 at 1 p.m. at the Winnacunnet Community Auditorium, will feature memorable educational classics such as “Conjunction Junction and “Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here.” Tickets are $5 general admission.

“They were happy to do it," Patton says of PPAF Executive Director George Hosker Jr. and his troupe of talented actors. “It’s going to be a really fun time.

Other fundraisers have hewn discussed as well, including a Calendar Luncheon and, says Patton, “other things that are fun for the community.”

“It’s never too early to start raising funds on our own.” she adds. Additional money may possibly come from patrons who specifically earmark financial support for such a renovation project.

Patton says the trustees “have been talking about this for two years, maybe more." Board members have met with the Capitol Improvement Plan (CIP) committee “to let them know what’s in the works,” and have given the committee regular updates “so they’re aware of what’s going on.”

While long-term goals have yet to be set in stone, Patton says the board of trustees hope to have a plan to present at a CIP meeting in the fall that would ultimately lead to further consideration at the 2004 deliberative session. Until then, the board will continue to explore possible fundraising activities and seek input from the community “to give us a better idea of where we want to go.”

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