Tilton Library expansion planned

At almost 100 years old, building has run out of room

  • The children's room at the Tilton Library on North Main Street in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The Tilton Library on North Main Street in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The second floor of the Tilton Library on North Main Street in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

For the Gazette
Thursday, May 19, 2016

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Tilton Library is inching closer to expansion now that Tilton trustees have voted to accept a schematic design recommended by a special planning committee.

The 100-year-old library at 75 North Main St. is in line for an additional 11,000 square feet of space, which includes room for utilities, Library Director Sara Woodbury said. There are also plans for an 80-person community room with a kitchen, quiet study rooms, staff work areas, additional mobile shelving, storage, a space for small group meetings and a dedicated space for teenagers.

Woodbury said cost estimates are expected this month and a site investigation is being scheduled for the area behind the library where the expansion is planned.

The design work is being funded by a planning and design grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Woodbury said current shelving provides no room for growth — for each new book added to the stacks, one must be removed. She said this means the browsing collection is limited in both quantity and scope.

David Lamb, vice chairman of the library’s board of trustees and co-chairman of the institution’s special planning committee, said there is a plan to at least double the number of computers at the library.

“Some people seem to think that everybody has computers nowadays, but that’s not the case,” he said.

Lamb said the trustees once investigated finding a new home for the 100-year-old library, but there was no need to move.

“It’s a really historical building in South Deerfield and it’s also beautifully located,” he said, adding that it is close to Deerfield Elementary School and Frontier Regional School. “And there is only a church between us and the senior center and we’re only a couple hundred yards from the center of town. So our location is ideal.”

Woodbury said the seven-member planning committee has met 14 times, toured 10 newly built or expanded libraries and surveyed town residents and library users about perceived library needs.

The committee also recommended hiring Philip O’Brien of Johnson Roberts Associates Inc., in Somerville, as designer and Daniel Pallotta of P3 Inc. as project manager, a position required with public projects over $1.5 million.

Woodbury said Tilton Library was built in 1916 with money local grocer Chauncey B. Tilton left in his will, coupled with municipal and private contributions. In 1997, a handicapped-accessible entrance and library office were added to the south side of the building and two closets were lined with shelves to accommodate a new teen book collection.

Today, the library offers the only free public Internet access in Deerfield, as well as computer stations, laptops and tablets for public use, according to Woodbury.

Lamb said the trustees have worked with the architectural firm for six or seven months and they will meet again in a few weeks. He said the tustees will discuss at a Town Meeting in June the possibility of getting a grant from the state Board of Library Commissioners to cover at least half the construction costs.

Trustee Chairwoman Nancy Maynard said the trustees plan to meet with the Select Board on May 18.

She said the expansion project has been talked about for at least 10 years.

“It’s a wonderful project. The library started in 1916 and we’re going to be celebrating the 100th anniversary starting in November,” she said. “The library is a real focal point for the town of Deerfield. It’s a beautiful building, it has gorgeous windows, we’re also fortunate that we have substantial property around the building.”