New campaign to push toward Tilton Library’s $2M goal for expansion project

Tilton Library’s project will expand the building on North Main Street in South Deerfield from 4,366 square feet to 12,784 square feet.

Tilton Library’s project will expand the building on North Main Street in South Deerfield from 4,366 square feet to 12,784 square feet. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-15-2024 8:20 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With Tilton Library approaching the early-spring start date for its expansion project, the library is launching a new capital campaign to continue climbing toward its goal of $2 million.

The “I Heart Tilton” campaign launched on Feb. 1, coinciding with National Library Lovers Month. Tilton Library seeks the community’s help in raising $50,000 toward its fundraising goal, which will cut the total project cost shouldered by Deerfield residents. The campaign will run through March 22 — which also marks author James Patterson’s birthday — in honor of National Reading Month.

Tilton Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin said the library is starting to use more “straightforward” fundraising strategies, as 2023 was focused on raising money through events. The events also helped spread the word about the construction project.

“Last year we did a lot of events and it was a lot of fun and a lot of work,” Bradbury-Carlin recounted. “Now it’s time to move onto the next phase, which is more hunkering down and meeting one-on-one with potential donors and having these straightforward campaigns.”

She added there are several donors that are offering matching donations for contributions made to “I Heart Tilton,” and the library is also reaching out to local authors to get them to participate.

To date, Tilton Library has raised nearly $900,000 through a variety of fundraisers.

On top of “I Heart Tilton,” other fundraisers planned include an online raffle in April and a May event at Quonquont Farm in Whately. Bradbury-Carlin said they are also exploring grant foundations that support libraries and will work with their fundraising consultant, as well as Christopher Dunne, Deerfield’s new planning and economic development coordinator.

Bradbury-Carlin said the library’s plan is to reach the $2 million goal by the end of 2024.

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“We would be really happy to have it done at the end of this year and that’s been our plan,” she said. “The timeline is to have the money ready to give to the town by the time the project is built.”

Tilton Library’s project will expand the building on North Main Street from 4,366 square feet to 12,784 square feet. Key improvements include expanded teen and children’s rooms, meeting and co-working spaces on the second floor, and a “nighttime suite” that will be accessible after normal library hours and feature meeting spaces, a small kitchen and bathrooms.

If the library can meet its $2 million goal, then the town’s cost for the project will be roughly $5.79 million, an amount voters gave their approval to borrow through a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion vote at the 2022 Special Town Meeting and special election.

Moving timeline

With a request for proposals going out in early February, construction is expected to begin in mid-March. At that time, the library will move next door to the South Deerfield Congregational Church, where it will occupy the church’s function hall, but not the sanctuary or kitchen. Minor renovations were needed to make the space suitable for library use, and Eaglebrook School stepped up to hire contractors for the project. The project manager is Dan Pallotta of Project Planning Professionals.

Tilton Library will need to close for two to three weeks while items are moved and utilities are transferred. While the library is closed, patrons will be able to visit neighboring libraries to borrow books and use their services — which Tilton just did for the Sunderland Public Library when it closed for a brief period this month.

The library will transfer a large portion of its children’s section, a chunk of the teen collection and the newest books from the adult section, as well as DVDs, audiobooks and the Library of Things item borrowing collection.

Despite the move, Bradbury-Carlin said operations should remain largely unchanged and patrons can expect programming to continue as it does in the current space. The library will also be able to use Town Hall’s meeting space and the gazebo behind Deerfield Elementary School for Saturday programs.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty solid space for us to work during construction,” Bradbury-Carlin said.

More information about Tilton Library’s expansion can be found at tiltonlibrary.org/building-project. More information about the “I Heart Tilton” campaign, including how to donate, can be found at ihearttilton.org.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.