The Pierson Library officially re-opened its doors on Monday in its new location in the south wing of the Shelburne Field House, where it will stay until construction of the new library is completed next summer.
On Monday morning, Library Director Kevin Unrath’s cell phone was ringing every couple of minutes as he juggled last minute details, answered callers’ questions about the new location, and attempted to set up the call forward function on the library phone system.
As patrons entered and exited through the front door, some also used the door at the end of the circulation hallway, connecting the library to the fitness center next door, and creating an unlikely link between the athletic and bookish communities.
“I told my wife and family that I really have no excuse for not working out now,” Unrath joked. “Obviously this space wasn’t designed to be a library, but it works very well.”
Pierson Library will remain in the temporary Field House space until next summer when construction is expected to wrap up on a new library and renovated historic Town Hall building on the main municipal campus. The $6.5 million project also will make some improvements to the overall site for better traffic flow and safety in the vicinity of the library, town offices and fire station.
It took an army of 50 volunteers five days last week to move everything from the old Pierson Library building next to the town hall to the new location, a half-mile down the road on Athletic Drive, according to Unrath.
Volunteers from the library community, as well as from the Kiwanis Club of Chittenden County and the Charlotte Shelburne Hinesburg Rotary Club, came together to help pack and move the books, while the shelving units and larger furniture was transported by Vermont Moving & Storage.
“I was really surprised and happy that we had the outpouring of help from all of the volunteers,” Unrath said. “It was really wonderful that people are excited to help us out.”
Much like what might happen when moving one’s home, Children’s Library Assistant Patrice MaComber said she noticed volunteers unpacking books and getting distracted as they thumbed through some volumes.
“It was nice that people, in helping, were able to revisit books from their past and express the desire to come back and read them again,” MaComber said.
The new space consists of a central circulation area with separate rooms for adult literature, children’s literature, and media.
All of the furniture has been relocated from the old building, including shelving, tables, desks, and items from the children’s play area.
Unrath said the library plans to reuse furniture and fixtures as much as possible in the future to reduce costs. For example, repurposing the modular steel shelving units alone saved the library $50,000, he said. Even the old book drop was moved from the former location to the Field House, so patrons may still return books after hours.
It may be tight fit, with books squeezed to maximum capacity on every shelf, but none of the library materials had to be put into storage, according to Unrath. Instead, the library thinned its collection by about 5 percent earlier this year, allowing it to better fit into the temporary space.
The library intends to maintain the same amount of programming as in past years, although some of it will have to occur off-site due to space issues.
Unrath plans to collaborate with local senior living communities and preschools to host some new outreach programs that will may make some new connections while managing the space constraints.
“We still anticipate being quite busy here, because we are only a half a mile away and because we are still within walking distance to the school. That was one of the reasons for moving to this location,” Unrath said.
He also suggested that the library would be interested in future collaboration on programming with the conveniently located Field House next door.
Staffing levels and library hours won’t change in the new location. And the same telephone number will still be in service: 985-5124.
The community is invited to the grand opening event for the temporary library Saturday at 1 p.m. Ice cream will be served, and there will be a scavenger hunt to help patrons find their way around the new space.