The Town of Windham is mainly a residential community with a growing number of small specialized retail and service businesses along Route 111 and 28. There has been explosive growth since the 1970s. From 1997 to 2004, the population increased 42%. The current population is about 13,500. The Town Planner has projected that, with current zoning, the full build-out population will be 17,000-19,000 people. For this study the figure of 19,000 will be used.
As early as 1988, the Trustees realized that the old Library, located in the Armstrong Building, was bursting at the seams. A Building Program was written recommending a new facility of 15,000 sq. ft., but because funding was not approved for many years in a row, the size recommended by the Building Consultant, Patience Jackson, was downsized by 20%, to 12,000 square feet. A new Building Program was written. This smaller size was approved and the new Nesmith Library opened in 1997. It was the first facility to be built in Windham’s new town center. The Library was projected to be adequate until 2015. In fact, the Library has reached its limit now.
There are many problems with this facility but the primary ones are:
Windham needs 91% more shelving for its current holdings. The collection is crowded into a Library much too small for its present collection.
There are thirteen “Special Concerns” for the new facility.
1. Single Level or Multilevel Design. The recommendation of this Consultant is a single-level design. A single-level library is the most efficient configuration. Flexible space, economies in staffing, no need for an elevator or stairs and their associated costs can result in an aesthetically pleasing facility for all of Windham’s citizens.
2. Local History/Conference Room, seating 15, will be open to small groups. Climate control will preserve valuable collections.
3. Multipurpose Room/Kitchen, seating 150. As an intellectual commons and community center, the Library should provide a midsize multi-purpose meeting room and exhibit space.
4. Quiet Rooms. Four quiet room, two seating 6, two seating 8, will be available for tutoring sessions, small group meetings, or for individuals seeking quiet space.
5. Exhibit Space should be provided throughout the Library, in addition to space in the Multipurpose Room.
6. Technical Services Room is an open flexible space with plenty of storage. Careful planning for multiple tasks is a must.
7. Circulation Work Room is the major work space situated behind the Circulation Desk. It should be near Administration as well.
8. Children’s Room should reflect the current and anticipated usage and holdings statistics. The design should be light and airy with enough room for defined areas without a crowded, cluttered look.
9. Story/Crafts Room, seating 30, is primarily for children’s programs, but could be used for other meetings or programs.
10. Young Adult Room provides this age group with their own space for information needs, as well as their need to socialize.
11. Café Area. This attractive, cozy area, located near the Entrance and Circulation Desk, should be one which encourages socializing since the library also functions as a community center. It will also be the location for the ongoing book sale for F.L.O.W. (Friends of the Library.)
12. Efficient Use of Staff should be the rule. The staff should have clear unobstructed views to multiple areas.
13. Efficient Use of Space should be high priority. Adaptable spaces that are able to accommodate overflow from other areas should be designed.
General Characteristics of the new facility should include the following. The new Library must maintain and enhance the visual power of the Nesmith Library because it is an integral part of the Windham Community. The building should make a statement about the quality of life in this Community and be harmonious with its environment.
The building should have flexible space, be easily supervisable and easily maintained. It should be environmentally safe and energy efficient. There should be plentiful storage areas and the building should be able to accommodate whatever the electronic needs of the future will be. The facility should be fully accessible to the disabled, meeting or exceeding ADA Standards. The acoustics, lighting, HVAC, fire protection and security should be highly effective systems.
Provision for future expansion, both interior and exterior, should be made at the beginning of the design process.
The building includes six rooms available for meetings, group study or programs: the Multipurpose Meeting Room seating 150, the Local History/Conference Room seating 15, the Story Hour/Crafts Room seating 30, two Quiet Rooms seating 5 and two Quiet Rooms seating 4. There is an Audiovisual Area near the Young Adult Room. There is a Photocopier Area.
The Periodical/Browsing Area, the Large Print/Paperback Area along with the Reference/Study Area will provide adequate seating for browsing and study. The spacious and attractive Children’s Room will help to motivate children to read. A Computer Training Area for self-directed learning as well as classes is provided.
Storage Areas are located throughout the building: custodial area, work rooms, offices, meeting/program rooms, closed storage and kitchens.
Office/work space includes the Director’s Office, five staff seats in the Circulation Work Room, four staff seats in Technical Services Room, two desks in the Assistant Director’s Office, one each in Reference Office, Children’s Librarian’s Office and the Telecommunications Closet. Provisions have been made for 30 machine work stations. Seating for the public totals 139, seats from six meeting rooms total 195.
The proposed collection capacities are as follows: Children’s Room 34,325, Young Adult 2,415, Adult 60,155 for a total of 96,895 including both print and non-print. The proposed building solution has 28,780 square feet.
The proposed building should be highly efficient, utilizing flexible spaces, so that it will meet the informational, educational and cultural needs of the citizens of Windham from the present time to the year 2050.
In her Needs Assessment and Building Program, Third Edition, October 1995, Patience Jackson wrote that “the Library faces either substantial expansion or repeated incremental relocations over the next two decades.” Jackson originally recommended that the Library expand to 15,000 sq. ft., but it was built 20% smaller than was recommended. There was a deficit of 3,000 sq. ft. Patience Jackson’s prophecy that the Library would be facing another expansion “within the next two decades” has come true.
April 2004 Marjorie L. Judd