Guilford library expansion could be complete by fall

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
March 18, 2008

GUILFORD — Construction on the Guilford Free Library is continuing on schedule, and the expanded facility could be open by the end of the summer.

On Monday, the Board of Selectmen awarded a final round of contracts on the project for items including the telephone system, furniture and desk counters.

The more than $7 million expansion at 67 Park St. will increase the library’s space to 34,000 square feet from 20,000 square feet.

It will include larger areas set aside for teens and children, as well as new meeting rooms and a reading area with magazines and newspapers, library Director Sandra Ruoff said.

Construction started last June, and since then most of the library’s collection has been available at a temporary location at 20 Carter Drive. Ruoff said the work has been coming in on time and on budget so far, and she is hoping that librarians will be able to move back into the building by September.

As when the library first closed last year, there will be a transition period when no facility will be open in Guilford. The library is paying $13,000 a month to rent the space on Carter Drive.

“The day the construction stops doesn’t mean the library’s going to open the next day,” Ruoff said. “There will be a period when there will be no library available to the public, but Connecticut has an agreement that anybody can use any other library as long as they have a valid library card.”

Ruoff said she does not know right now how long the library will be closed while officials move the collection back into the Park Street building, but it could be more than a month.

“We were only closed to the public for two weeks when we moved over here (to Carter Drive), but moving into a temporary building is different from moving back into a brand-new building,” she said. “There’s going to be a big learning curve for the staff.”

All of the shelving in the facility will be new, as well as three-quarters of the furniture. Library officials have raised nearly $1 million in a capital campaign to cover the cost of those items.

A bond for $6.9 million passed at referendum in September 2006. The town has also secured a $500,000 State Public Library Construction Grant toward the project.

First Selectman Carl Balestracci said the final round of contracts, awarded Monday, was handled separately because it involves technical items that workers will install after construction is completed. The bids totaled about $577,000.

The Park Street library was originally built in 1933 and expanded in 1977, Ruoff said.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but my fervent hope is that we will be open by the end of the summer,” she said.

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