Op/Ed

Editorial: Ilsley Library needs voters’ input

ANGELO LYNN

Middlebury area residents should take note of upcoming public information meetings that will review four proposed scenarios for upgraded or new facilities for Middlebury’s Ilsley Library. The four proposals range from a $5.5 million renovation of the current building on Main Street to a new $23 million proposal on a new site — with it being the possible anchor of the once-proposed EDI property behind the library as the preferred choice.

The public hearings are set for Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 7 pm in Ilsley’s community room (downstairs in the back of the building.) Another meeting will be held on Friday, Jan. 20 via zoom. (See story on Page 1A.)

The proposals are in their early stages. No building design work has been done, so cost estimates are preliminary and based on approximate space needs as well as costs to manage the transition, but what has been well researched is the need for more space.

The current building at 99 Main Street is 99 years old. Its spaces are outdated for today’s library use and inadequate for many of today’s student and early childhood programs. Library officials say they need an additional 6,000 space feet of space to a total of 24,000-square-feet. That would allow the library to double space for children’s programs, better ensure safety and accessibility, offer more meeting rooms, more work areas for library staff and more restrooms.

There are, however, no easy solutions. Each proposal is costly and each has its own set of drawbacks — a key one being what to do with the existing building if it is vacated. 

The complexity of the various proposals makes attending one of these public hearings extremely beneficial, almost crucial, if residents are to play an effective role in helping guide the way.

Be there on Tuesday, Jan. 17 if you can, or tune in online via Zoom, Friday, Jan. 20 at us02web.zoom.us/j/81862472831 at noon. Your input will help library officials and town leaders choose the best path forward.

Angelo Lynn

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