Plans For ‘Innovative Library’ In Berlin Discussed

Plans For ‘Innovative Library’ In Berlin Discussed

BERLIN – Plans for a new library in downtown Berlin continue to move forward.

Worcester County Library officials provided the latest details regarding a new Berlin library this week as they sought funding assistance from the Town of Berlin.

“We’re really looking forward to working with you,” said Jennifer Ranck, deputy director of the Worcester County Library. “An innovative town like Berlin deserves an innovative library.”

Ranck said library officials were hoping the town would contribute $75,000 toward the new facility, which is expected to cost just under $5 million. The donation, she explained, could be broken up and given over three years and would be used to get a $150,000 grant from the Humphrey’s Foundation.

“The Humphrey’s Foundation will match $2 for every $1 we raise,” Ranck said.

The $225,000 the library would then have could be used to get a matching grant from the state for another $225,000, leaving officials with $450,000 toward the new building. The rest of the cost for the new building is expected to come from Worcester County and the state, each of which have committed $1,083,000 in FY 2016.

“We will be going back to the state for another grant for FY 2017, although we already know competition will be stiff,” said Mark Thomas, director of the Worcester County Library.

The new library, which would replace the aging facility on Main Street, would be located on nearby Harrison Avenue. Ranck said the building would be significantly larger than the existing library at 11,000 square feet and would be designed in a cost effective, energy efficient manner.

“We want this building to be easy to maintain,” she said.

It would be a two-story structure located toward the front of the 6.4-acre lot on Harrison Avenue.

“We want folks to see the library from Main Street,” Ranck said, adding that parking would be alongside the building and a garden area would be located behind the facility.

The ground floor of the building — which is expected to be brick — will feature much of the library’s book collection as well as a children’s area, Ranck said, while the second floor will feature a section for teens and a technology area. The second floor will also provide space for a conference room and a 100-person meeting room.

“The library has no meeting space right now,” Ranck said.

She added the new building would meet ADA guidelines with more accessible aisles and would have better lighting and more comfortable seating. It will also have more public computers and outlets for mobile devices.

Mayor Gee Williams said the facility Ranck outlined would ensure Berlin continued to meet its goal of providing 19th century charm with 21st century living.

“This bridges that gap,” he said. “I think you all have done a great job.”

Town officials are expected to take the library’s funding request into consideration as they work to develop a budget for the coming year.