South Hadley Public Library project nearing opening day

by Town Reminder

By Lauren Quirici

SOUTH HADLEY – Though not open to the public quite yet, the new and much larger home of South Hadley’s Public Library is getting closer to its official opening as the summer days breeze by. 
Perched on the edge of the dam at 2 Canal Street, the library overlooks the historic South Hadley Canal on the Connecticut River, which was dredged in 1795. The original gatehouses still stand and can be viewed via the glass walls of the building.  The few folks who have toured through the building admit that it is hard to divert one’s gaze from the spectacular view.
“One of the great things about the new library is that it will provide not only indoor spaces for resource sharing and information retrieval, it will provide outdoor spaces as well for community and regional gatherings,” says Mitchell Resnick, chairman of South Hadley Public Library’s Board of Trustees.  
Designed by Johnson Roberts of Somerville and constructed by the Fontaine Brothers of Springfield, the details of the building’s construction were meticulously thought through from the brick patterns above windows to the ceiling panels in each interior section, and down to the types of plants that decorate the grounds. 
“Every plant is a native plant,” says Resnick. “Two hundred years ago you would’ve found these plants.” 
The roof of the library is fitted with solar panels that will help generate power for the building, and the temperature controls are accessible remotely, meaning that if necessary, the HVAC contractor can adjust the controls from off-site.
The paved entryway to the library is inlaid with a circular formation of bricks, many of which bear the names or favorite sayings of sponsors and contributors to the library’s fundraising efforts.  Some bricks are still blank, and are available to be purchased and inscribed.
As patrons enter the new library, a café area welcomes them to relax and finish food or drink before entry.  The children’s section’s kid-friendly surroundings include a table designed to look like a crooked fence and a desk in the shape of a boat, and even a craft room with a resilient floor that will provide an area for kids to get down and dirty with projects.
Teens have their own separate area which will have booths reminiscent of a coffee shop atmosphere. 
The building is equipped with a climate-controlled room to store delicate documents. The entire library will be enabled with wi-fi. 
“Libraries are not just book warehouses anymore,” says Resnick regarding the library’s growth. “Libraries are places for people to gather, to get information, to exchange information.”
With the new building come many new features that will make town functions easier to manage.  One large meeting room in the library is equipped to broadcast town meetings without the need for extra equipment to be brought in.  A certain section of the building will also be available to be used after library hours without the library having to be open. 
After the Bardwell Street library closes as usual at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug.16, the transfer of materials will begin.  A company whose only business is moving libraries to new locales will work its magic, packing up books in Dewey Decimal order and transferring them to their new shelves as efficiently as possible. 
The new library will reopen as soon as possible, and is projected to do so during the week of Aug. 25.   An exact reopening date will be announced.  And no need to fret; in order to prevent patrons from incurring any overdue fines during this time, no library items will be due from Aug. 18 through Sept. 1.
A symbolic transfer of the library’s children’s collection from Bardwell Street to Canal Street is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 23.  Sponsored by the the Board of Trustees and the Building Committee, the event will be family-oriented, with activities and refreshments provided.  The transfer celebration will be free and open to the public.  More details about the event will be given in early August.
The reopening will be a “soft” opening rather than a grand opening since some final furniture, equipment, and services will not be available until later in September.  Staff and patrons will use this time to get used to the space and help patrons get acclimated to the new features and capabilities of the library. 
A date for the formal ribbon cutting and dedication ceremonies will soon be announced by the library’s Board of Trustees and the Building Committee.  The ceremonies are anticipated to be held in mid-September.
The library will be open Monday through Wednesday from 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.