Study to Start Soon for Acton Upgrades
At a town meeting on Aug. 24, voters approved an appropriation of $25,000 that will be used for a feasibility study for upgrades to the Acton Public Library (APL).
Thanks to a rural development grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for which the town applied and received, the town will get $25,000 to hire an architectural firm to conduct an architectural feasibility study for redesigning the library to make room for a makerspace at the library. The money is reimbursable when the project is done.
APL Director Amanda Brower explained at a Board of Finance meeting on Aug. 3 that to best serve the public, a modern library can’t just be a building that houses books anymore. To meet the modern demands of a library, the APL is interested in creating what’s called a makerspace, or a place to for creative work. That work could range from artistic endeavors to more room for classes, technology upgrades, and more.
“There’s really so many things we could do with the space,” said Brower.
With the money from the grant, the APL will be able to hire architects, create a scope of work plan, write a request for proposal, and receive concept images of what the space will look like. Old Saybrook Economic Development Director Suzie Beckman told the Harbor News that the work from the grant should be completed by next June.
Brower said during the BOF meeting that the APL isn’t seeking to expand, but to work with the space it already has. The grant money will be used for the feasibility study only, not for construction.
As part of the grant the town is contributing $17,000 of in-kind services, which covers the salaries of Brower and Beckman when they work on the project.
“That’s where we’ll make sure our hours are specifically dedicated to that project,” said Brower.
Brower said that this study has been in the works since the fall of 2019 when a strategic plan was first developed. “This is part of the feedback from that plan,” explained Brower.
The APL is not the only library in the area undergoing a similar project. Later this month the Westbrook Public Library will open a tech room with modern equipment like high end computers, tools for video and photo editing, podcasting equipment, telecommunications equipment, gaming equipment, and other software needs as well as space for computer “It’s something we’re so excited about,” Brower said as the work at APL begins. “It will help our community.”
Brower said APL will be looking specifically for architects that have experience working with libraries.