The new library expansion project is finally completed. (Photo by Leigh Sharps) (click for larger version)
February 01, 2017HOLDERNESS — Although Library Director Jackie Heath has been in charge only three years,
she is thrilled to have been at the beginning of such a large undertaking as the transformation of
the town's 1911 historic library with a new addition.
"It was overwhelming. I was getting to know the people and all of a sudden my first summer I'm
in the middle of a huge undertaking. It's been very exciting," said Heath.
She and helpers had a week to move books and shelves out of the way in a short time for the groundbreaking last August.
The addition was quickly boxed in (the east side) so the contractor and sub-contractors could
concentrate on finishing the interior, flooring and painting, etc. during winter weather. CCI of
Gilford was the construction company used; Project Manager for them was Ron Downs.
"Our town clerk-of-the-works was here every day, too" to look after the interests of the
townspeople, said Heath.
Incredibly, the library addition was funded through donations and a capital campaign headed by
the Jeanne Toussinault and Friends Firm.
"A generous donor provided the funds for the first payment to her firm, and we were off and running.The whole thing is absolutely astonishing to me for a little community of 2,000," said Heath.
A committee started in July of 2014 looked into the feasibility to see if enough people would
support the project. The study came back positive for the widely used library service.
"The reader population grows ten-fold in the summer," noted Heath, who says many island and lake
dwellers come by boat.
The project cost approximately one million dollars and came in slightly under budget.
"We haven't landscaped the outside yet, and a few other things need to be done, but it's essentially,
basically all done; just putting furniture in and moving the books around," Heath noted.
The focal point of the project is the children's room, which is at least ten times bigger than the
small corner it once occupied in the old section on the first floor, and then the downstairs room,
where it was last.
The children and family room is a large extended space . A Director's office is on the first floor
as well as the computer center and the fiction and non-fiction sections are in the same place.
The beautiful new desk occupies the right side of the front room where it once was years ago. It
is a gem because it was constructed from the antique oak panelling from a wall that had to be
Says Heath, "We were able to save it and re-purpose it."
Downstairs, you'll find the Friends meeting auditorium named the Esther Horsman Memorial
Room. A unique feature in the auditorium, is a 'hearing loop.' It provides amplification of
speakers, etc. for the hearing disabled during programs in the large auditorium. The is one of
the few libraries in the state to have it.
"We haven't started up all our programs yet, but hope to by mid-February, including children's' story hour," added Heath. "Everyone who comes in is amazed at the project. It's so spacious, bright, welcoming but in keeping the old-fashioned look."
Heath said the Friends of the Library committee helped all along, with Amanda Loud as their President.
"Amanda worked tirelessly," said Heath.
Loud says of the Friends efforts "The Friends of the Holderness Library have been enthusiastic about the library expansion. We are excited that we are able to donate a total of $10,000 in honor of Esther Horstmann, the founder of the Friends of the Holderness Library. The Friends meeting room, in the basement of the new library addition, will display a plaque in her honor. Additionally, the Friends are helping to purchase a storage cabinet in honor of Connie Ross for the new children's room. The Friends is a 501C3 organization dedicated to promoting the Holderness Library. We hold two main fundraising events per year, the Santa Sale in December and the Memorial Day Book and Yard Sale. Membership is open to all, regardless of town
The final go-ahead was the permit for the elevator (the lift) which was granted just last week.
"It's operational and licensed," noted Heath.
The building is now ADA compliant with a handicapped bathroom and ramp on the ground floor and another bathroom upstairs (both for patron use not the public).
The new outdoor deck will get the approval, no doubt, of all the patrons who choose to sit
outside and enjoy reading and looking at the town and lake views. The chairs on the lawn in the
past were always popular and they were occupied much of the summer.
The library now holds 16,000 items for loan including DVDs, videos, movies, talking books and
The library's hours are Monday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesday 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday-closed, Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Trustees are Ted Vansant-Chair, Carol Snelling, Kathy Wieliczo, Betsy Whitmore and Victor Currier. Alternates are Lynn Morrison and Kim Currel. Friends of the Library President-Amanda Loud. Employees are Library Director Jackie Heath, Children's Librarian Deborah Thouin, and Assistants Kelly Schanner and Jeanne Perkins.