Construction continues in the multi-purpose building
Barring any unforeseen delays, Winthrop’s new library is slated for a grand opening on June 4, Winthrop City Council announced at its January 5 meeting.
Jill Sheley, executive director of Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), told the council construction should be substantially complete by April and NCW Libraries will begin moving books, equipment and furniture into the new space. in May, when an occupancy permit is also expected.
FOWL is the non-profit organization that raised funds and built the new library. The building will be turned over to the City of Winthrop upon completion, and its programs will be funded and operated by NCW Libraries, the regional library system that oversees 30 branches, including those in Winthrop and Twisp.
The groundbreaking for the new library took place in early June 2021. The project is supported by private fundraising from FOWL over the past several years and a state grant of $2 million. The library is built on a 0.81 acre parcel purchased by the City of Winthrop at the intersection of White Avenue and Norfolk Road. FOWL subsequently acquired private funds to purchase an adjacent 0.92 acre parcel to expand the area available for building, parking and landscaping.
The building was designed by Johnston Associates and PBW Architects. Impel Construction is the general contractor.
No additional taxes will be required to build or operate the new library. City residents currently pay a library district assessment which goes to the NCW library system. NCW Libraries will provide all furniture and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.
The 7,300 square foot building, which will be more than six times larger than the current library, was designed from the ground up to function not just as a library, but also as a community gathering space. The main area includes sections dedicated to children, teenagers and adults; six windows with benches; and a sitting area with a fireplace and views of Mount Gardner.
The building also includes separate rooms for community gatherings, conferences, and activities, as well as a “creative space” for things like art projects, 3D printers, and sewing machines. The main community gathering space is separately accessible when the library is closed and will include a catering kitchen. It can accommodate up to 72 people, or be divided by a soundproof barrier into two separate meeting spaces, each with access to covered outdoor spaces.
The bigger library will accommodate a bigger collection – more books, magazines, audio and movies. There will be public computers and printers. The entire property will have free public Wi-Fi.
Even the outdoor spaces will be educational, with FireWise landscaping and fire-friendly plantings. There will also be a children’s play area and spaces for meetings or presentations. The library will feature artwork created by local artists Hannah Viano and Tori Karpenko, as well as space for rotating exhibits. (See related stories, page A6.)
The building is designed to meet environmental standards and will be prepared for solar panels, which FOWL hopes to add.
NCW Libraries Executive Director Barbara Walters told City Council that one of the goals of the new library will be to focus on family-oriented activities, offering “a host of assets to support families”. Programs will be available for all age groups, she said.
Construction is currently focused on finishing the interior works. Exterior landscaping work including parking lot paving, concrete or cobblestone patios, circular book deposit, curbs and steps down the Susie Stephens Trail, and exterior benches will continue depending on weather conditions.
More than 1,000 “donor parties” (couples, families, businesses, individuals) have donated funds to the new library, FOWL reported.
Current funding covers the exterior hardscape, FOWL said, but the organization needs about $40,000 in additional funding to complete construction of the library building and obtain an occupancy permit. Future funding needs include more landscaping and planting, as well as the installation of solar panels.