By Margery Sharp
Pierson Library has been serving Shelburne for over a hundred years. Its first collection in 1888 included 100 books and served a population of 1,300. Now they offer use of over 25,000 items to 7,000 citizens. The library services today include access to libraries throughout Chittenden County, inter-library loan, museum passes, adult and youth programs and computer access. The last decade has produced library patrons with untold media-conscious needs.
The institution has been moved several times to meet the growth in Shelburne’s population, most recently in Dec. 2001. At that time the library took over the town offices space and the police department which were attached to the west end of the historic town hall, and the children’s section was set up in the town hall basement.
A drastic storm, including the flooding of the children’s basement department, a burst boiler pipe, a damaged wall, conference room flooding and the destruction of 800 books, all hastened action be taken on the library situation.
A steering committee was appointed to discuss the library’s future and included librarian Lara Keenan and Joe Colangelo, Shelburne’s town manager. Also on the committee is Coleen Park, selectman and Ruth Hagerman, library trustee.
Together Colangelo and Keenan met with the fire department and the Historic and Preservation and Design and Review Commission to discuss safety, traffic circulation and the design needs of an expanding library facility.
In 2011 the committee discussed four options with Maclay Architects, knowing the library owned land north to the Marcotte property. These were: 1) renovate the basement and add an addition, 2) add the addition to accommodate the children’s department, 3) fix maintenance/energy issues and 4) build a new library.
“Option four was agreed upon,” said Keenan. “We envision a two-story building built in similar style to other nearby buildings although no firm design is in place. ”
The committee favors building on Rte. 7 in the empty space north and adjacent to the SCHIP building.
While parking will have to be refigured, the curb cut and driveway, if approved by VTrans, also could be moved north toward the Marcott property, Keenan said. The roadway could be widened to accommodate fire vehicle traffic. “We will need to raise the funds to build. Building costs have been estimated between four and five million,” she said. “We would use a combination of grants, donations, and, if necessary a small bond. We plan to hire a fundraising consultant.”