Nesmith Library Building Expansion


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·  History

Prior to the building of the current Nesmith Library in 1997, Patience Jackson, Library Building Consultant, recommended building a 15,000 sq. ft facility. Because funding for the entire project was  not approved, the plan was down-sized by 20% to its current 12,000 sq. ft. While the library was projected to be adequate until 2015 in fact it is over the limit today. The staff is constantly challenged-- weeding collections and trying to maximize current  space.


·        Warrant Article Approved March 2005

Thanks to the voters of Windham work has begun on the architectural plan. Bids have been received by the Building Committee that will assist the Board of Trustees and members of the community to take the project to  the next level. Statistics maintained by the library staff  show that membership, circulation, visits, and program attendance are all showing record numbers and we are bursting at the seams!  The library is striving to expand the growth of all collections including young adult offerings, audio-visual, adult fiction and non-fiction. The expansion will also provide more quiet study rooms for students, home-schoolers, tutoring and programs for large groups. Plans call for expanded staffing areas, book and storage space which are over capacity today.


·        What are the Objectives?

With our ever-growing population there is no better time than now to re-state the Nesmith Library’s Building Expansion Objectives which will answer some of the more “frequently asked questions”.


Maximize Usefulness to Patrons

1.      Strive to stay within the national guidelines of five books per person and recommended square footage per person.

2.      Have “high value” or unusual things to share at the library.

3.      Provide easily accessible and time convenient meeting space and study/tutorial space.

4.      Provide frequent programming to foster a dynamic and interesting community cultural environment.

5.      Continue to offer a pleasant and modern atmosphere that the public enjoys visiting.


Minimize the Costs (both capital costs and ongoing expenses)


1.      Design for staff efficiency.

2.      Design multi-use space that can accommodate overlapping functions.

3.      Provide excellent operational and energy efficiencies.

4.      Specify “superior quality” materials to reduce maintenance expenses and extend useful lifetimes.


Frequently Asked Questions


Why is it necessary to expand the existing library?


The Town of Windham and the Nesmith Library have both grown significantly since 1997.  The library serves a rapidly growing number of residents estimated at 16,000 and town planners project our “build-out” population at over 20,000. Expansion will be designed to meet the needs of a town that size. Specifically, we need additional space for adult and children’s collections, particularly audio visual items such as DVD's, CD's and audio books. At the same time, we need more  children’s programming room and small quiet study areas.  The program of requirements compiled by our Building Expansion Committee estimates that we would need to enlarge the building from its current size of  11,866 square ft. by  at least 10,000 square feet.      


How much will this cost and how will the project be funded?


The library needs to determine what is feasible, and needs this planning time to make any future expansion as effective and cost efficient as possible.  At the conclusion of the current planning project, the library will have a cost estimate, and it will be made available to the public. Since this is only phase one of the project no one has all the answers on the funding. There are several  organizations who are committed to helping us with capital expenditures such as F.L.O.W. and the Windham Endowment for Community Advancement. Guidelines used in 1997 to fund the current building   show a model built on a public/private partnership and the generosity of  patrons. Again the stated goal is to maximize the usefulness to residents while minimizing the costs.


With the overwhelming approval of Windham’s new high school, why can’t residents use the library at this new facility?


Many factors are at work.  Primarily, the high school will serve a teenage population, while the library serves a variety of demographic groups.  Toddlers, young children, adults, and seniors appreciate  the hours, convenient location, and comfortable surroundings which the library provides.  On the other hand, the high school library will be better equipped to cater to the academic subject material and learning methods present in this curriculum-driven environment. In terms of demand for public meeting space, we hope that the School Board’s plans will relieve the pressure on the library’s meeting rooms. In general we hope that both facilities will complement each other and will be built to the first-class standards that Windham residents have come to expect.


With advances in technology why not look to e-books/technology expansion rather than  more room for hard copies?


Today’s Nesmith Library is far different than 10 years ago. The library is keeping pace with tomorrow’s technology  and the speed at which it is changing.  Right now  electronic media, i.e audio books, DVDs,  and CDs make up 8 % of our collection and yet account for 22 % of  circulation. The demand continues to rise!  The website has expanded to offer more on-line services and databases to media sources around the world. As the evolution continues high-speed internet, wireless technology, and  downloadable audio books for MP3 players are now available.  However, the hardcover book isn’t in danger of going out of style! Throughout history the printed word has proved itself to be the only media source that has yet to become obsolete. Children still need to learn to read, and patrons of all ages still want to borrow a book to read at the beach or curl up with.  As evidenced by the library’s soaring circulation, the expansion will enable the library to bring present and future technology under one roof and offer the latest in a variety of books and media.


What are the objectives of the  Building Expansion Committee?


A committee of current library trustees, former trustees and interested citizens has met whose stated goal is  to settle on  a program of requirements to help determine the essential elements to be included. We developed detailed objectives, spaces, services (i.e. telephone, data, utilities, etc, equipment, furniture and spatial relationships.) A request for proposal (RFP) was distributed to architectural or design professional firms.  A “short list” of interested firms will be interviewed with the goal of selecting the winning firm to develop a schematic design and move into the next phase of delineating room sizes and relationships, single line diagrams of all utility systems and preliminary elevation studies of the building exterior, and drawings of special interior spaces. The architect’s objective will be to submit drawings, a project narrative, and cost estimate to the Nesmith Library Board of Trustees.


How will the residents of Windham be kept informed about the progress of the committee?


You will be kept updated through progress notes on the Library’s website , the monthly newsletter (available at the library or on-line) the Windham Independent and other local publications. This project will be a long-term effort of the members of the committees, volunteers and residents alike. Because of the dynamics of our growing town, the hope is to provide the best possible environment for enjoying books and all types of media plus the enrichment activities which contribute to their enjoyment.


Where can more information be obtained?


For an executive summary of the April 2004 study done by Marjorie Judd, Building Consultant, please click here.