Fall is the season when we reflect on the days gone by and look ahead to plan new things. We appreciate the beautiful colors of orange, red, and yellow, the wonderful fruits and vegetables, and the crispness in the air. Similarly, the Otis Library’s involvement in the new Small Library Pilot Project sponsored by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is our fall season, our opportunity to reflect on what we have, what we do, and what we look forward to.
The Otis Library applied to the Small Library Pilot Project in June 2021. This construction project from MBLC will grant funding for a new library to a town with a population of 2000 or less. Currently Otis is one of two applicants for this grant.
When I was asked why the Otis Library was pursuing this project, my answer was that Otis is a forward-looking community committed to improvement and progress, and at this point, the library has gone as far as it can in its current space. Our collection can be maintained and updated, but without constant weeding, it cannot grow. The building does not allow for open sight lines; you cannot see what is happening in each room. The children’s space had to be moved for that reason and now is so small that only four children can fit in the area, and the young adult section is confined to a hallway. There is no space to hold large group presentations or meetings: the largest room holds no more than thirty people, and that is without social distancing. There is no drinking water available, and the need to provide bottled water limits the ability to host events with refreshments or to hold activities such as cooking classes or potluck dinners.
We have been fortunate to have an up-to-date technology program at the library. Five public computers are available, as well as Wi-Fi for people to use on their own devices. There is a large-screen video system, and a wireless printer with a signal that is always available. However, there is no private room available for small-group conferencing or interactive virtual programs. We have sponsored wonderful programs: great author talks, creative children's programs, story walks, and poetry sessions. But these programs must be either held during the library’s closed hours or offered in a different location. We can go no further in our current facility, so to grow and expand and offer more, we must look at opportunities for a new library.
As part of this grant application process, we must develop a library building plan. Your feedback is very important in constructing a vision of a library for Otis that meets the needs of all in the community now and in the future. Do you use the library? If not, why not? Do you know where the library is? Where should a new library be built? What would a new library look like? How would a new library fit the needs of the Otis Community? A library today is far different from libraries that were built in 1948 when our library was built. Today libraries may have a community meeting space for presentations, performances and meetings, or small group learning spaces, or spaces for innovation and production and video conferencing areas. At a community meeting held August 25th over 42 members attended in person while 22 people attended virtually. During this meeting, many expressed support for this project. Since that time, people have been asked to submit their ideas for spaces, activities, and equipment. You can do this in three ways:
At the town hall, there is a feedback board to collect your ideas.
The library has a wish tree where you can give your suggestions.
There is a questionnaire posted on the new library website (this website!). You can fill it out either online at this link or by printing out the form and submitting it to the library.
Please help us develop a vision of a library that will fit the needs of our community. We appreciate your cooperation and support.
Although the surge of COVID-19 Delta infections necessitated several program cancellations, by requiring patrons to wear masks in the library and using social distancing and complete cleaning efforts, we are confident we will be able to continue our regular hours and programs. We have used our grant from the American Library Association to provide books and other materials to the Farmington River Regional School for activities. We are focusing on inclusion for all ages but especially children; come and see our newest items that foster self-esteem, acceptance, and diversity. Story walks and Pop-in Poetry are scheduled monthly. If you prefer curbside services during this time, please let us know and we will arrange your materials for pickup.