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Staff members and supporters kick off expansion of Minot Sleeper Library



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The Minot-Sleeper Library staff, Trustees and Friends marked the beginning of construction for the long-awaited renovation and addition to one of Bristol's busiest downtown buildings last week. Pitching in at the groundbreaking ceremony: Children's Librarian Deborah Thouin, Interlibrary Loan and Circulation Librarian Cindy Westfall, Selectman Joe Denning, Library Director Sharon Warga, Trustee Barbara Greenwood and, for the Friends of the Minot-Sleeper Libray, Judy Wilson. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
August 22, 2012
BRISTOL — A large crowd assembled alongside the colorful Butterfly Garden, by the banks of the Newfound River, on a beautiful late summer afternoon in Bristol last Wednesday, Aug. 15, to mark the beginning of a new era for Bristol's historic Minot-Sleeper Library (circa 1885).

Trustees, Friends of the Minot Sleeper Library, Library staff, Town officials, representatives from Northway Bank, and many enthusiastic library patrons of all ages celebrated the ground-breaking for the long-awaited renovation and expansion of the busy and beloved landmark at the heart of the community.

"This is a project that has been in the making for nearly 100 years," said Master of Ceremonies Nathan Haselbauer, for the Trustees. "We are finally getting this off the ground, and it could not be coming at a better time. While some states across the country are gutting their libraries in response to economic pressures, for the first time in history, the U.S. Department of Education has documented that illiteracy is on the rise in America in recent years."

If the indefatigable and hardworking Trustees, Friends and staff of the Minot-Sleeper Library have their way, that will not be happening in Bristol.

In his opening remarks, Hasebauer alluded to the fact that the expansion project has been on the agenda of the Minot-Sleeper Trustees literally for generations. The recognition of an acute need for additional space for the collection, as well as many activities and library programs, has been documented in the minutes of Minot-Sleeper Trustees meetings for decades.

Amongst others, Haselbauer took time out during the ceremony recognize the many years of dedicated service of Friends of the Minot-Sleeper library member Judy Wilson. Wilson's efforts have been instrumental in enabling the library to meet the growing demands of patrons, particularly in the realm of children's activities. The fundraising efforts of the Friends have also been been critical in support of children's programs and also for the Trustees' $200,000 capital campaign for the new addition.

Circulation statistics and attendance at library programs have skyrocketed in recent years, especially since economic pressures have squeezed budgets for young families who use the library as an important resource for children. Adult use of the public computers and wireless Internet access has increased markedly, as well.

Intensive fundraising efforts have been underway for years, and a number of different architectural plans have come before voters for consideration before the current project was approved this past March at the annual Town Meeting.

A scale model of the planned library addition was on hand at the celebration. The new library is designed to provide much needed space for children's programs, additional stacks for the collection and a community meeting room. It will solve many long-standing safety and security problems that have plagued the charming, but tiny and aging Minot-Sleeper Library for many years.

The current plan, by local architect Brackley Shaw, has met with enthusiasm from many community members. In keeping with the intimate scale of the downtown area, the expansion of the facility is designed to fit in well with adjacent buildings, and to resonate well with the aesthetic and historic sensibility of the existing library.

Construction is expected to begin in earnest on site in September, with much of the exterior scheduled to be finished before winter sets in.

Fundraising efforts for the new library are continuing. It is not too late to make a financial donation. There are a number of different opportunities for those interested in helping out, including those "out of town" patrons who use the library during the summer season. Many individual donations have already come in from summer residents and patrons from surrounding Towns.

Donations to the Library Capital Fund can be made by check, made out to Friends of the Minot-Sleeper Library Capital Fund, and mailed to the Minot-Sleeper Library, 35 Pleasant St., Bristol, NH 03222.

Donors are also actively being encouraged to participate in the ongoing "Buy a Brick" program, through which individuals may purchase a personalized brick to be part of the new library, inscribed with a message or dedication of their choosing. Three lines of text, on a four-inch-by-eight-inch brick is available for $75 contribution. Six lines of text on an eight-inch-by-eight-inch brick will be sold for $150. For more information, visit the Web site at www.minotsleeperlibrary.org, or better yet, stop by the library and check out plans for the new addition.

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