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Renovated Royalton Memorial Library almost ready to be checked out

  • Royalton Memorial Library Director Tyler Strong spots a bird painted among the leaves of a tree painted in the children's room at the library in South Royalton, Vt., while shelving books with Assistant Director Pam Levasseur, left, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Levasseur's husband, Stuart, painted the tree during the building's renovation in the room that was formerly held the Royalton Town Clerk's office. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Chris Demers, library communications, pages through a book recording names of donors to the Royalton Memorial Library that she found while shelving books in South Royalton, Vt., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in preparation for the library's re-opening on February 15 after a ten-month renovation. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ezra Morency, a construction inspection consultant hired by the Town of Royalton, checks over the Royalton Memorial Library in South Royalton, Vt., Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, as the building nears its re-opening on Feb. 15, 100 years after construction started on the original building. The addition and renovation of the old building's ground floor adds about 1,500 square feet to the library with a dedicated children's room, conference room, kitchen, and a craft and activity room, elevator and accessible restrooms. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • John Dumville, library treasurer, looks up to see Ezra Morency, a construction inspection consultant hired by the Town of Royalton, checking over the Royalton Memorial Library's exterior in South Royalton, Vt., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Dumville was at the library for an appointment as final preparations were being made for the re-opening of the library on Feb. 15. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/10/2020 10:01:00 PM
Modified: 2/10/2020 10:00:55 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — They’ve been shelving new books, arranging new furniture and hanging artwork recently at the Royalton Memorial Library.

It’s all leading up to a party Saturday celebrating the completion of new construction and renovations around the original structure, built in the early 1920s.

The project, which took 10 months and cost $737,500, includes a two-story, 1,500-square-foot addition housing a new children’s room, a maker space, a meeting room, a kitchenette and a staff office, two new bathrooms, an elevator and a new, ground-level entrance — the latter three aimed at bringing the library into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It’s coming together nicely,” library director Tyler Strong said during a break in shelving late last month. “She’s really a beauty — something that will last going forward. … It’s going to be more than just a library where people come in to take out books. It’s going to be more of a community resource.”

Work started in April, and the library closed in October, but even with that, in 2019, the library welcomed almost 7,000 visitors, said Chris Demers, an assistant at the circulation desk who also handles communications for the library. She added that the library hosted 175 events or programs that brought in 1,881 people.

“It’s a warm community of supporters who use it,” Demers said. “There’s a lot of loyalty on the part of residents.”

Support for the project came first in 2017, in the form of a town-wide vote to approve borrowing $750,000, when it became clear that the library was overdue for improvements. In addition to needing to meet fire and safety codes, the old building presented a number of obstacles for disabled patrons, among the most glaring flight of concrete steps to the main entrance.

As planning went along, project cost estimates rose past $1 million, prompting a return to the drawing board that included scrapping a planned third-floor renovation. In March 2019, the Royalton Selectboard approved a $737,451 version of the project, part of which library trustees offset by raising about $230,000 in grants and $222,000 in donations.

Demers described the result as “a major transformation, comparing what it was to where it is now. It’s a great public community space.”

The meeting space alone is already in demand.

“The scheduling for it has been insane,” Strong said. “We’ve had more of an issue turning people away than getting people here to use the place. People want to get in.”

Royalton Memorial Library celebrates its grand opening Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. Vermont State Librarian Jason Broughton will speak, and the library will offer tours.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.




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