Library looks ahead to bigger, better days
A planned modernization of New Milford Public Lihbrary is on the horizon.
"I'm pleased that Mayor (Pat) Murphy included the library study in her budget," said the library's director, Mark Hasskarl.
"I know there will be some challenges to reconfiguring the library's space," he said, "but I'm ready to take that challenge on."
Hasskarl came to the director's position this spring, taking the place of longtime director Carl DeMilia.
He said he is ready to provide the oversight necessary during a major renovation.
"Mark has taken part in the library expansion at Chappaqua (N.Y.)," said Joanne Lillis, president of the library's board of trustees. "And that was a big one."
In spite of bids to secure funding for expansion in 1995 and 2006, the library remains at 18,000 square feet comprising three buildings.
Lillis and the board are enthusiastic 2015 will be their year. They are hopeful the next year will bring the work necessary to move the teen and children's library sections out of what they feel are cramped quarters, to expand technology offerings and to better serve the 28,000 residents of the town.
"The mayor has offered $20,000 from the Waste Management Settlement Fund for a feasibility study," Lillis said. "I have a feeling the time is right to bring this forward."
The library's annual report for fiscal year 2013-14 leaves little room for doubt its board feels more space is needed.
Circulation was 249 percent above the state average during the past year, according to state library statistics. That translates to 292,188 books, CD, DVDs and other offerings were circulated.
Children's programs attracted 9,818 kids while young adult/teen programs brought in 1,579 -- 982 percent above the state average.
"We have to address the teen area. We have to bring the teens back into the library," Lillis said.
The board concurred at its meeting last week that, in moving forward, it must be conscientious of the cost to taxpayers.
A space planner would likely be consulted before going to an architect.
"We're hoping to modernize the (L-shaped) 1976 addition," Lillis noted. "It would be most efficient to tear down the present addition and put a new structure right there."
Board member Brian Feeney, an architect by trade, offered his thoughts.
"We have to review where we are today," he reflected, "and meet the true needs of the library."
Feeney took previous plans home and reviewed them. He will present his findings Sept. 29 during a closed meeting.
The board would then hope to move forward selecting a firm to conduct a feasibility study.