Library plans groundbreaking

MANCHESTER - At 5 p.m. on Friday, June 21, the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Manchester Community Library will be held at the intersection of Route 7A and Cemetery Avenue. When finished, it will replace the library's current building at the intersection of West Road and Main Street in Manchester Village, known since 1897 as the Mark Skinner Library.

Along with its collections of books, periodicals, audio books and DVD's, the 18,600 square-foot building will include a large community meeting room, a young adult reading area and a children's area. Library trustees have estimated the cost of its construction at $5.4 million, but hope to raise an additional $1.2 million to finance an ongoing endowment fund. The building has been an entirely privately funded project.

"This groundbreaking is an investment in the future of Manchester," said Mike Ryan, the chairman of the library's Board of Trustees.

The new building is designed to meet stringent energy efficiency standards. The goal is to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification, a rating set by the U.S. Green Building Council. A silver designation is two notches below the ultimate platinum standard and one notch above the basic minimum standard for environmentally sustainable construction established by the building council.

With its close proximity to Manchester Elementary Middle School, the Northshire Day School, and Zion Preschool, the new library will have a larger focus on children and teens.

"We want children to become early adopters of the library," Ryan said. "[The children's area] will be light and airy... a welcoming place."

Ryan said that there will be an arts and crafts area as well as places for children to read and play within the library. For pre-teens and teenagers, there will be a loft-like section where the library will have all of its young adult books, as well as access to computers and comfortable chairs.

"It will be a space of their own," said Ryan. "We will have computers in addition to it being a place to just relax and hang out."

One aspect of the library that Ryan said he is most excited about is a 100-seat-capacity meeting space within the library.

"This is going to be huge," he said. "We can have organizations hold meetings [in the space]... We can accommodate so many groups, from bridge to classroom space... conferences... it's designed to have good acoustics and it is in a very nice room."

They will also be creating a café-styled space as well. Final details of that are still being hashed out, but the intent is to have a social area for library patrons to use while at the library.

One of the functions of the new library will be a way to "bridge between the printed and digital words," according to Ryan, noting they already have ways for people to download and read ebooks. That will continue, he said.

"[ebooks] will never replace physical books, but I think they can stand beside it," he said. "We have to get ready for that to happen."

The details of the new library are not set in stone, and Ryan said that this is a project that continues to evolve as they plan it.

"As people find out that we have more space and more abilities, they want to be involved," he said.

Library officials have been looking forward to this moment since 2007, when a decision to seek out a new location and construct a new building, rather than try to refurbish the present one in the Village, was made. Seventeen different locations were studied and evaluated before the parcel of land adjacent to the Factory Point Cemetery was picked in 2011.

Raising the funds for the building's construction has been a top priority since the decision to construct a new facility was made six years ago, said David Novak, one of the library's trustees.

"We had enough already to give us confidence to start building," said David Novak, one of library's trustees. "We hope that when the community sees the building... they will participate in donating."

The funding for the project has been organized through Christine Miles, the chairwoman of the library's capital campaign. According to a press release from the library, Miles believes that the community will support the new library's goal of finishing the funding for the project.

"Even though we have on-hand what we need to begin the process, we will need many contributions, small and large, to take it to completion," Miles said. "We are looking to all of our community to participate in bringing our 21st-century vision to reality."

While specific plans for the present Mark Skinner Library building are not set, a plan for its future use should be completed in the coming weeks, Ryan said.

Those interested in donating to the library can do so by contacting Miles by telephone at 362-2607, or by email at


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