Durham Library hosts grand opening, ribbon cutting of new building after $4.8 million renovation pro
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 12:09
The scene at 49 Madbury Road was one of celebration this past Sunday, Sept. 8, due to the grand opening of the new Durham Public Library.
The improved facility received all of the perks of a grand opening, including a ribbon cutting and guest speakers.
Over 100 people showed up to celebrate the library’s change of address from its storefront home in the Mill Road Plaza to Madbury Road. UNH seniors Jordan Pritikin and Alex Ivanov were in attendance.
“It’s an awesome facility,” Pritikin said after he and Ivanov toured the building.
The library’s most noticeable change, aside from the location, is its size.
According to Thomas Madden, library director, the library outgrew its storefront space, which offered 3,000 square feet. The new library lends itself to 10,500 square feet.
“It always cramped our ability to move,” Madden said of the storefront property. “The staff area was an aisle with worn out, beat up carpet. … There was nothing good about the old space, except the people that worked there.”
The extra 7,500 square feet of space means more opportunity to Madden.
“Well now what? What do we do with this beautiful facility?” Madden asked in his opening speech.
Madden had several ideas, which he listed, such as increased children’s programming, more computers, meeting spaces that can be reserved online and space for staff.
In the old location, the mere 3,000 square feet meant that children’s programming had to be hosted at the local high school, and staff areas were limited in size and function.
Many were visibly impressed with the larger facility. However, the building is also full of green surprises that would make any environmentalist proud.
For example, small solar panels, approximately one foot long and one foot high, cover one side of the library’s roof.
The panels are unostentatious, as they lie close to the roof.
In addition, the back of the library hosts a landscaped rain garden to handle storm water runoff from the parking lot and library roof.
“As we did our research on where to invest our money in terms of keeping this building as green as possible and saving money, one of the things we discovered is that investing in insulation, which isn’t sexy … saves you tons of money,” Madden said in regards to sustainability.
The entire project—the buying and renovation of the property, implementation of sustainable efforts, and addition of more technology—cost $4.8 million in total. Madden said that the funds came from a bond vote and fundraising.
“We had a little over a million dollars at hand that we fundraised, so we could afford [the site we wanted],” Madden said. “With all the fundraising we did over the years … we raised $2.2 million dollars. And, actually, $500,000 of that came in bequest from the estate of Margery Milne. … Then we went for a bond vote of $2.6 million dollars that passed by 74 percent.”
Despite its new look, the library has an old history.
The Durham Public Library was not originally located in the Mill Road Plaza but, rather, it used be a part of the Dimond Library on the UNH campus.
Todd Selig, Durham Town Administrator, explained that 16 to 17 years ago, the Dimond library wanted to expand. Thus, the Durham Public Library was forced to find a new location.
It found its home at the Mill Road Plaza, where it stayed until the library could find a new locale—a process that took 15 years, Selig said.
During that 15-year period, some residents did not appreciate the storefront location.
“I was surprised to see the town’s library was in a strip mall, especially in a university town,” Lisa Pfeiffer said upon her move from Colorado to New Hampshire. Pfeiffer has been a Durham resident for five years, and she attended the library’s grand opening.
“I am thrilled that this has come to fruition,” she said, looking around at the building.
While the building has been equipped with modern technology and a café on the inside, it still has a historical tie to Durham.
“I remember as a student at UNH coming here to drink tea with the professor that lived here,” Barbara Siegert, a Durham resident for 25 years, said.
According to Siegert, town residents were afraid that the old house would have to be taken down in order to make room for the library.
That was not the case.
“They kept the front of the house the same,” Siegert said. “It’s the same building the professor lived in all those years ago.”
Though Madden explained the capabilities of the library’s new space and its sustainability, he highlighted the unique opportunities the facility offered town residents.
“This is your library,” he said. “It’s up to you to determine how you want to use it.”