Ground is broken for library expansion
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon/Rockville - posted Wed., Jun. 20, 2012
Rockville Public Library officially launched its $3.4 renovation and expansion at a groundbreaking ceremony on June 18 that included members of the project's steering committee, major donors, state representatives, Mayor George Apel and Gov. Dannel Malloy. The project is the first major renovation to the 108-year-old library in 45 years, and will include an elevator, a new portico and entranceway, expansion of the young adult and adult sections, a conference room and upgrades to make the building fully accessible for the handicapped. There will also be new computers and other technology upgrades and a reconfigured, higher-capacity parking lot.
Thomasina Clemons, president of the Rockville Public Library Board of Trustees, called the groundbreaking “exciting” for the board, the steering committee, staff and patrons. “We hope it's exciting for the whole town,” Clemons said.
“This construction project will enable us to continue to serve the citizens of Vernon and surrounding communities,” said Library Director Donna Enman. Enman thanked the staff of the library, especially Sharon Redfern who had acquired grants totalling more than $1 million.
Apel said he is a 70-year patron of the library, and added that his mother has also been a patron further back, and that his daughter and two grandchildren also use the library. He added that libraries are no longer just about books.
“It's an information center,” Apel said. “That's what's very encouraging to see being developed in this expansion... recognizing the information that has to be coming from a library now.”
State Rep. Claire Janowski (D-56) said the library is “an important and historic” part of Vernon. “I'm glad to see that the expansion plans are to make it grow and to continue serving the residents of the town, and expand services,” Janowski said.
Malloy said he enjoys going to library events, and that “libraries are at the core of what community is all about,” and “increasingly in our society, a place where people go to look for work.”
“What we really have seen is libraries move from simply an educative [set of] processes to full-life's experience processes, including employment,” Malloy said. “This is really a great re-positioning of this institution in this community.”
Robert Hurd, a Board of Trustees past president, said the library began in 1893 when George Maxwell left $10,000 to the town of Vernon and the city of Rockville to create a public library. The then two entities ponied up matching funds of $5,000 each, and the library opened it's doors in 1896 on Elm Street. Later, Maxwell's wife and children donated the land, raised money and had the current building designed and built at 52 Union St., where it opened its doors in 1904.
Hurd added that in 1965, the children's wing was added, along with some mechanical changes. The roof was also re-done in 1986.
The library was awarded a $250,000 grant from the State of Connecticut for ADA accessibility modifications, as well as a $1 million matching grant from the Connecticut State Library. To receive the second grant, the library raised $2 million in order to meet a required 2-to-1 match.
According to a press release, the library has raised more than $3 million in total for the project and will raise the remaining costs by continuing its Expanding Your World Capital Campaign by appealing for community support through a direct mailing campaign and presentations to community groups.
Enman said the library will remain open during construction, which is slated to be completed by late 2013, and adjacent buildings will be used for programs.
For more information, visit www.rockvillepubliclibrary.org.