After operating for several months in a makeshift space in the Town Hall, the , freshly renovated and improved, is open to the public.
As patrons filed in at the re-opening Saturday, they were greatly impressed with the new look of the building. After being closed for several months, the most common sentiment of the staff and the library users were summed up nicely in the words of one patron, “we missed you.”
One quick walk through the renovated building made it apparent that many of the improvements were designed to increase the level of comfort for library patrons, and entice them to stay in the library and enjoy the collections and the new atmosphere.
“Our focus was people,” Wendy Taylor, the children’s librarian, said. “That had been a frustration for us all, we are committed to finding out what people want, but when people got here we had to squeeze them into a little corner. It is nice to be able to fit more than two or three families in here. We were bent on finding space for people.”
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While repair of the roof and other structural elements of the library comprised much of the renovation, the most striking changes are the uses of space, and general feel of the interior environment. With more seating areas, more natural light, and new and brighter carpet and flooring, visitors to the library's grand opening Saturday were pleased with the comfortable new surroundings.
The children's area received some of the biggest changes and upgrades. Located now on the second floor of the library, entrants to the section are greeted by a beautifully painted tree themed mural by Connecticut artist Ted Esselstyn. The space is much larger and can accommodate more visitors.
Taylor was also delighted to be back in the Kent Memorial Library to resume the programming schedule. The limited space at did not allow for any programming, though she did thank the for being very welcoming and accommodating in the use of some of their space for the children's programs.
“It's good to be a library again. It was a long transition, but we are grateful to Town Hall for being able to be there for longer than we thought we would be,” Library Director Jim McShane said.
Some of the updated features of the Kent Memorial Library include new lighting, reconfiguration of the stacks to allow better lighting and open up spaces, flooring and carpets, and a consolidated computer lab. Several seating areas are now available for patrons wishing to use the materials in the library. The periodical and newspaper room features two donated reading chairs, and the library features a garden with working fountain on the lower level.
McShane was very proud of the seating areas, specifically on the main level where chairs and tables are arranged cafe style, making for a comfortable reading environment.
“People are almost surprised that there is a window on the south side, because it has been so long covered up with books and CDs. It provides a nice vista,” McShane said.
The auditorium, the next big priority to open up the space for programming, is nearly complete. The front desk, now repositioned directly in front of the entrance doors will soon be replaced with a newly constructed desk.