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Joyce Endee

Pease Public Library celebrates completed expansion

Jeff Downing (far left) of Conneston Construction, Inc. receives thanks from Project Steering Committee members (l-r) Douglas Grant, Katherine Hillier, Winnie Hohlt and Elaine Melquist after presenting them with a change order credit of $20,000 during Friday’s expansion dedication at Pease Public Library. (Matt Perloff — Courtesy) (click for larger version)
May 18, 2011
PLYMOUTH — Pease Public Library has long been a multi-faceted component of the Plymouth community, but recent months have brought about extraordinary changes to help the facility serve the town and its residents better than ever.

Fueled by dedicated volunteers and staff, as well as an outpouring of support from the community, the library has finally seen its recent expansion project through to completion, marking the occasion with an open house and expansion dedication ceremony on Friday.

The expansion is the latest benchmark in the library's rich history, dating back to its beginnings in 1873, when a group of young ladies (formally known today as the Young Ladies Library Association) strove to open the town's first library, and through the years to the present-day library, built in 1991 through funds donated by Charlotte Pease.

As the patronage increased and the range of services expanded, so too did the need for a larger facility, and the community responded with its support at the polls, officially approving the expansion project in March 2010.

There's been no shortage of support from the community over the course of the expansion process since then, and it was no different Friday, as staff, patrons and contributors filled the lower floor of the library to see the completed renovations, as well as celebrate the occasion as the newly-remodeled library officially unveiled its new facilities. The turnout went beyond standing room only, with well-wishers gathered in the hall and all around the double-community room to join in on the celebration.

Library Board of Trustees Chair Winifred Hohlt welcomes supporters to Friday’s dedication at Pease Public Library. (Matt Perloff — Couertesy) (click for larger version)
"It's not often you get to say, 'open the doors, they're coming in through the windows,'" joked Winifred Hohlt, who serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees, as well as the Building Committee and Project Steering Committee.

Hohlt opened the ceremony by thanking the many people and organizations that contributed to the expansion. She thanked Northway Bank for the donation of land on which portions of the expansion rest, the Meredith Village Savings Bank for financing, and especially to the people on the many boards and committees involved, including the Board of Trustees, Building Committee, Young Ladies Library Association, past and present members of the select board and Town Administrator Paul Freitas. She also thanked the Pease Public Library staff for their dedication through the renovations, including a temporary shutdown and relocation to the Daniel Webster Courthouse, and director Katherine Hillier, whom Hohlt praised for wearing many hats during the process.

"Who knew we'd work so hard and have so much fun?" said Hohlt.

Hohlt also read a letter from Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who congratulated the library and community for their hard work and "testament of resolve," and said that the town should be proud.

The first to offer their remarks was New Hampshire State Librarian Michael York, who also praised the town for their support of the library.

"Libraries like Pease Public Library are critical constitutions," said York. He also noted that as the latest expansion project of several libraries in the state, "libraries are not an anachronism…they are alive and well."

The expanded children’s section is just one of the many additions and renovations from the Pease Public Library expansion project, greatly increasing its ability to offer the many resources and services it has provided to the community over the years. (Matt Perloff — Courtesy) (click for larger version)
York also took the opportunity to announce a proclamation from Gov. John Lynch, who named the day Pease Public Library Day in honor of the efforts to recognize and meet challenges to accommodate its patrons, as well as the environment.

Select board Chair Valerie Scarborough marveled at the finished product, praising the library's diversity as it evolved over the years into a community center.

"This wonderful expansion allows the library to continue doing these things," she said, "and do them even better."

Tom Samyn, of Samyn-D'Elia Architects, reflected on how designing the library went beyond what he'd learned in school, being able to enjoy the personal impact of contributing to the community through his work.

"It's been such a pleasure to work with people so interested in the community," he said.

He also gave credit to Amelia Brock for her drawings of the library expansion, which were also critical to the presentation of the project.

Conneston Construction, Inc. (CCI) was also a local contributor to the project, and President and Project Manager Jeff Downing noted this in his promise to work hard and spend the bond money wisely if hired for the job. Downing took the opportunity Friday to announce another promise to himself in getting the project, giving back to the community by presenting the library with a $20,000 change order credit.

Library Director Katherine Hillier wrapped up the ceremony by again thanking the community and all involved for their part in bringing the expansion to fruition, offering her own praise for Downing on the energy and enthusiasm that earned his company the opportunity to work on this project, as well as for Mark Marceau, who was onsite throughout the project as superintendent. She also recognized Hohlt for her leadership over the course of the project, from the building committee to presentations before the town and finally seeing the project become a reality.

"No one knew what to expect…it was an extraordinary experience," said Hillier. "We just had the very best people on this project and it shows, everywhere you look."

Pease Public Library is open Monday-Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information on the library's services, including upcoming events, please stop in or call 536-2616, or visit online at peasepubliclibrary.org.

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