Why we need an expanded/renovated library
The Meredith Public Library is much beloved. Since 1901, the Library has been a Main Street cornerstone and a source of fond memories and resources for generations of Meredith families. Grandparents often reminisce with their grandchildren about the very first time they visited the library, remembering the days when children’s books were still in the front room.
However, the library is more than just memories. The library plays a critical role in the community and has a modern mission to be the educational, informational, and cultural heart of Meredith. The library staff and trustees strive to meet this 21st century mission, but they are challenged by the limitations of a 19th century building. For example:
The library is not ADA compliant. With seven split levels and no elevator, many patrons find it difficult to navigate safely.
The library has numerous life-safety code violations, especially in the top two floors housing children’s services, which remain open only with restrictions on use and staffing.
Program and meeting space are woefully inadequate, with only one room to serve programs for children, teens, and adults, as well as any needs of local groups and organizations.
There are no quiet spaces to work, study, or collaborate.
The infrastructure is inadequate, with HVAC systems that are inefficient and/or failing, poor insulation and energy efficiency, insufficient electrical connections, and old inefficient lighting fixtures.
The physical space is severely restricted, resulting in a limitation on the library’s collection of books and other materials, a core service provided by the library.
The library’s technology is old and outdated.
Staff work-space is too small, without even sufficient space for a break room.
The library does not have sprinkler or camera systems.
These challenges are not just frustrations for the staff and trustees, they are echoed by the community of users, which is substantial.
Nearly 65% of Meredith citizens have a library card.
In 2017 alone, the library had 51,800 visits, an average of over 200 per open day, including 5,000 participants at library programs and the highest teen workshop attendance of any library of comparable size in NH.
Meredith needs a 21st century library - a safe, navigable, ADA compliant library that meets the needs and demands of its community. Books will always be at the heart of the library, but a library is so much more than books…it is a place for the Meredith community to meet, to converse, and to learn.
But the current library is simply too small to adequately serve the community needs. Among other improvements, the new library will have:
A larger, accessible children’s room on the first level.
A dedicated teen space.
And for the adults, the historic front rooms will be returned to their original configuration with hardwood floors, wood paneling, and working fireplaces.
The Library Trustees, the Select Board, and the Meredith Library Fund are seeking both public and private funding for this long-awaited expansion and renovation project that will preserve the past and build for Meredith’s future.