To The Daily Sun,
There is a vocal contingent in Meredith which continues to react emotionally against any change to Meredith's municipal constellation, while failing to offer any realistic solutions to the conundrums facing the Meredith Public Library: space, access, fire code violations and restrictive historic building regulations.
Trustees of the Meredith Public Library are "behind this astonishing move to relocate" by a recent vote. The "new addition" is now almost 30 years old. Since 2011, trustees have been considering what MPL should be for the next 30 to 50 years. The public has been involved in creating the master plan, and our progress widely reported in the press
We have held eight informational meetings in 2016 about MPL's future, comparing the possibilities and costs of expansion at the present location versus a new building in a different location. Expansion where we are would cost $1.4 million more and limit parking. This figure does not include restoration of the historic building or property acquisition.
Our concern is to provide Meredith with the best possible library services going forward to 2050 and beyond. We want to be freely available to everyone, ages 2-102, regardless of race, creed, economic status, education, handicap, or any other distinction.
Our services are not just for citizens within a mile radius of middle Main Street. Patrons on Meredith Neck and in Meredith Center do not enjoy the convenience of an easy walk. Even if the historic preservation authority would agree, elevator towers do not provide real access to those in wheelchairs if most of the collection is shelved out of reach. Low profile stacks and visual connectivity take a lot more floor space than the current arrangement.
There is no nefarious plot, no hidden agenda to privatize Meredith's most beautiful building or take it away from the town, but rather a soaring vision of what MPL should be going forward and what it could do for the town. Increasingly, community libraries act as hubs of local culture, technology, and lifelong learning. Patrons come, not just to borrow from the collections, but to socialize, participate in activities, get help with their devices and use the wi-fi.
The internet puts information at our fingertips, but we do not believe people will disappear into their computers — they will want to share. It won't just be the bridge and chess clubs seeking space to gather, but people who watch web-cams of nesting raptors, take visual tours of the world's museums, view NASA photos...
Few realize the impact libraries have on the local economy. For many years, MPL has been helping patrons post resumes and apply for jobs on line, often the only option these days. Town libraries factor into decisions people make when moving into an area as much if not more than school systems. With MPL's expansion, we plan to put Meredith on the map as friendly to small and home businesses.
Libraries promote community development by identifying needs and filling voids in service. For example, MPL currently provides kindergarten readiness, technology literacy, computer time and internet access. The 21st century poses new challenges and creates more gaps for libraries to cover. Meredith residents need to recognize and address these issues, not cling to the past, however golden our memories of that may be.
Pamela Coburn, Trustee
Meredith Public Library