Rutland deserves a 21st-century library to serve people of all backgrounds. The move to the former College of St. Joseph Library will make that possible. The benefits of the move are numerous, and we can work together as a community to mitigate potential issues.
I have lived in Rutland City for the past 32 years and was a Rutland Free Library trustee from 2012 to 2018. During that time, the library revamped its strategic plan and set out to reach key elements of a 21st-century library:
— Separate safe children’s area.
— Separate area for teens.
— Welcoming well-lit space with good lines of sight for the safety of patrons and staff.
— More connectivity and electrical outlet access.
— Spaces for collaborating and community events.
Through the years, the library trustees considered many alternatives to try to have these elements of a modern library. In the current building, all of them were too costly. The latest option addresses deferred maintenance and updates the children’s area, but does not achieve any of the five elements of a 21st-century library. On the other hand, after the proposed renovations, the library space at the College of St. Joseph campus meets all five elements and for less money.
I share the three main concerns I’ve heard about the library’s move — the new location is more difficult to walk to, what will become of current historic building, and downtown is being “hollowed out” — and I still support the move. We can work together to address these concerns by finishing the biking/walking Creek Path to the CSJ campus, funding a free trolley between downtown and the library/rec center, finding a good use for 10 Court St. and enhancing efforts to revitalize downtown.
Before the pandemic, each time I visited the recreation facility at CSJ, I was invigorated by the mass of people of all ages and backgrounds using the space — basketball games with youngsters and the police chief, “mall walkers” and people using the lobby tables for games. I believe this positive energy will be increased when the library and rec center are next to each other.
My 2021 new year’s wish is that we work together to enhance our community.
Joan Gamble lives in Rutland.