In early August the library mailed a brochure detailing the plans for the new library. The brochure contained illustrations that show the site location, architects renderings and the floor plan. The mailer also contained a response card for comments and we received a number of them, some favorable and some unfavorable. We have tabulated these comments and we have attempted to respond to them in the following, Questions and Answers about the New Abbott Library.

Economy-The economy is bad. Why should we build a new library in these difficult times?
These are tough times but builders will bid lower than in times when they have much more work. Building material prices will also be lower. Also, interest rates are at an all time low, so it is an excellent time to get a bank loan. As a result, this is actually a good time to build the new library.

No Need-We don’t need a new library, the current building is adequate because library usage is declining.
The Abbott library was built in 1926 and has served the community well for the past 80 years but it can no longer handle the demand for materials and services in just 3,200 sq.ft of space. Since 2005 the number of items lent by the library has increased by 26%, library visits have increased by 20% and Internet usage in the library has increased 100%. In 2010, 1700 cardholders or 53% of registered users borrowed from the library. Our popular after school program was expanded from 2 to 3 days in 2006 to accommodate a growing demand. The program had 41 students attend each week in 2005 and this year 70 students are participating, an increase of 70%. The summer of 2011 was the busiest summer ever for the library with a 44% increase in the number of materials circulated including e-content as compared to the summer of 2005. Many of the library programs for children and adults have to be held off site due to lack of space. The library desperately needs additional space. Each new book added requires an old one be taken away. Over 2,000 overflow volumes are in temporary storage at the Safety Services Building.

No Taxes -Tax money should not be used for the library construction which should be built entirely with private funds (donations). Don’t raise my taxes.

No one likes to see taxes raised but public buildings in Town are usually built almost exclusively with tax funds. That was the case with the Town Hall, the Highway Garage, and the Safety Services Building. The Library is to be built primarily with private funds (donations) but some public funds are thought to be appropriate since the library is a public building which will be owned by the Town.

The plan is for a 20-year loan taken by the Town and repaid with tax dollars. The loan is about one third of the library project cost and will cost a family (with a $300,000 home) $20 per year in taxes which is less than the cost of a single book purchased per year. Most of the funds to build the new library will come from private donations.

Too Expensive, Too Large – The planned library building is too expensive and too large.

The cost of the total project is $2.7 million which is less than the initial estimates for either of the two previous efforts to build a new library and less than the cost of the Safety Services Building the last public building constructed in Sunapee.
The Library Trustees have worked hard to get the cost of the project down from the initial estimate of $3.3 million by deferring the addition of the Community Center and other features that added cost. All of these additions and features can be added back at a later date when additional funds become available.

The size of the proposed library is smaller than the plan for the two previous library proposals and will accommodate expected growth in the collection for approximately 10 years, substantially less than the 20 year growth horizon traditionally used in library planning. It could be argued that the proposed building is too small for Sunapee’s future needs.

Digital Technology- The growth of digital technology, iPads and Kindles and online services, will make libraries obsolete.

Libraries are in the business of improving lives and providing access to digital content is the latest way this can be accomplished, but it’s not the only way. The Library has taken a balanced approach by maintaining traditional library services including books, audiobooks, movies and music as well as offering new technology such as loaning Kindle e-readers, providing free access to digital formats such as ebook’s, audiobook’s, and music online. In 2010 digital content accounted for just 1% of the Library’s yearly circulation and the other 99% was the loaning of traditional items such as books, audiobooks, movies, magazines and music. Digital services will continue to grow in the coming years along with the library’s traditional services.

Building Design – The drawing shown for the new library is unattractive. The colors of the trim are too bold. It does not look like a New England library.

It is difficult to find a design that will satisfy everyone. The vast majority of survey respondents approved of the design. The drawings shown are initial architects renderings and do not necessarily represent the final appearance of the building. The Trustees will continue to work on the design considering the suggestions made while continuing to seek to keep costs down.

Prefer Other Site – Some respondents expressed preference for other sites, among them, Ski Tow Hill, Harbor Hotel/Livery (Old Town Hall), Knowlton House and Woodbine.

The Library Trustees evaluated all the potential sites, held a Public Forum in August, 2010 and also obtained voter input from a survey mailing. The selected site was the overwhelming favorite of the new sites. The lower-ranking rejected sites included two that had been previously turned down by the voters.

Other Priorities – Other Town construction projects should take precedence over a new library. Specifically cited were a new community center and a new elementary school.

The Town certainly has other priorities in addition to the library. A community center was initially envisioned as part of the library design but was deferred in order to keep costs down. If additional funding becomes available from donors, the community center could be added back into the library plan.
A new elementary school is a matter for the School Board and ultimately the voters, not the Library Trustees who are focused on meeting the pressing need for more and better library space.

Second Story Windows – The design shows windows for a second story. Is the library one or two stories?

The upper windows, called clerestory windows, save energy by providing additional daylight to the main reading areas and providing a pleasant height to the ceiling. There is no second story.

Basement for Expansion – Shouldn’t the library have a basement for future expansion?
The addition of a basement would significantly add to construction costs since there is granite on the site that would require excavation. The Trustees have sought to keep the initial costs down by building a single story on a slab. There are significant operational advantages to having the library on a single story. Future expansion would be achieved by extending the adult and children’s wings of the building. The site provides ample room for such expansion.

Energy Use – Won’t the new larger library with the high ceiling in the reading areas require excessive amounts of energy for heating and cooling?
The new building is expected to be much more energy efficient than the present 80 year old building. The new building will use radiant floor heating with which people are more comfortable with a lower room temperature, resulting in a lower heating cost.

Additional Staffing – Will a larger library require more staff?

The single story and more efficient layout are expected to permit operation with the existing staff with no additional staffing. However, experience at other new libraries suggests that a new facility frequently results in significantly increased usage. Increased usage over time may require some additional staff hours.

Children From School – How will Elementary School children get from school to the library? There are no sidewalks or paths? Will they have to walk along Route 11?

Construction of a walking path is being considered from the Elementary School to the new library site. Library Trustees are working with Town officials to develop an appropriate path. The path contemplated is less than 1/3 mile in length from the elementary school to library.

The Library Trustees are working together with school officials to make the new library a regular bus stop so Elementary and Middle/High School children can be dropped off at the library after school.

Traffic on Sargent Road – Sargent Road is subject to heavy traffic going to the Transfer Station, R.P. Johnson and the Safety Services Building. Much of this is truck traffic. Isn’t this dangerous for children?
A traffic study conducted by the Sunapee Police Department showed substantially less traffic on Sargent Road past the library driveway (700 vehicles/day) than either Main Street (1,900 vehicles/day) or Route 11 (4,800 vehicles/day). The Route 11 traffic includes heavy log-carrying trucks not present on Sargent Road. The present library on the corner of Route 11 and Main Street has much more traffic travelling at higher speeds. The proposed Sargent Road location is believed to be much safer.

Charitable Foundation – A proposed Charitable Foundation is being established for the new library’s Capital Campaign. Will the Foundation make decisions circumventing the will of the voter?

The Charitable Foundation which has been established by the Library Trustees will be a 501c(3) organization whose only purpose will be fundraising. The Foundation will provide an easy way for donors to make tax deductible gifts to the library. Although the Foundation members will work closely with the Library Trustees, they will not be involved in decision making relating to the design or construction of the new library or in subsequent decisions about library operation or maintenance. All of these decisions will continue to be made by the elected Library Trustees.

Fundraising – When will fundraising begin?
Formal fundraising will not begin until after the Town vote on the Library Project in March 2012. However the library plans have been presented to selected potential donors who have been asked to pledge contributions contingent upon a successful Town vote in March.

Old Library Building – What do you plan to do with the present library building?
The present Abbott Library building is owned by the Town and any decision on what to do with it after the library moves out is up to the Selectboard. Disposition of the old library building is not a decision the Library Trustees would make. In 2007 the voters voted against selling the old building.

Planning Board – Why have the Library Trustees not approached the Planning Board with the new construction plan?

The Claremont Savings Bank, the seller of the lot, will formally approach the Planning Board when the project is far enough along to bring a request for a lot subdivision to the Planning Board. This is expected in the next few months. The Trustees have met with the Planning Board and made an informational presentation to update the Board on the Library Plans.

Wetlands -Aren’t there wetlands on the proposed library lot? Won’t this make building the library more difficult?
Yes, there are wetlands on a small portion of the lot. The wetlands are near the lower, Route 11, side of the 2 ½ acre lot and nowhere near where the building, driveway, or parking lots are to be built.