Rutland Free Library explores move to College of St. Joseph
RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - The Rutland Free Library may be moving to the former College of St. Joseph campus.
“It does not work particularly well as a library anymore and it has not for a very long time,” says Randal Smathers, the Rutland Free Library director.
Ten Court Street has been home to the Rutland Free Library since 1938, but the library has spent $250,000 in the last five years on capital repairs. “We need to go forward because we think it’s the best way to provide the most library service to the most people for the least amount of money that we can possibly manage,” Smathers said.
The library is in the early stages of making the Giorgetti Library on the former College of St. Joseph campus their new home. Smathers says the plan was to spend about $1.5 million on repairs and renovations on the Court Street building, but a new library board member suggested looking into the former CSJ library, which underwent a million-dollar renovation just over a decade ago. “It wasn’t -- we want to move, it was -- we want to renovate. But before we do, we need to make sure it’s the right place to spend a whole lot of public money,” Smathers said.
He says Rutland will need to add a children’s room and make other minor interior structural changes. “One of the concerns is, kids can’t walk to the library if it’s here as opposed to downtown, but the point is, kids don’t walk to us now. We have essentially no after school traffic,” Smathers said.
By partnering with the rec center next door, they hope to draw younger people in. The biggest draw, though, is the new long-term care facility that would be connected to the new library home.
“Randal knows that a lot of his clientele are his seniors. So, they’re going to be able to go down the hallway, turn the corner, go down their hallway and be at the library,” says John Weatherhogg, the project manager for Heartland Communities of America.
Many community members have been speaking out online, saying they are not in favor of the change. Most people we spoke with downtown had no opinion at all.
Another issue with the Court Street location is finding parking and a lack of ADA accessible spots. “From a -- being able to provide services for the public standpoint -- it checks all the boxes. It really is an excellent option for us,” Smathers said.
This is not the first there’s been talk about moving the library. Ten years ago, there was a proposal to move the library to what is known as “the pit” in downtown Rutland.
Community members can give input on this new proposal until the end of February.
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