Thetford’s Latham library seeks funds to improve accessibility 


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-06-2023 4:57 PM

THETFORD — Latham Memorial Library may soon have a chair lift that will allow better access to community space on its lower floor.

The Thetford Library Federation, which oversees Latham in Thetford Center and Peabody Library in Post Mills, earned a $25,000 conditional grant from the Vermont Arts Council and must raise an additional $78,000 to secure the grant for the project, according to an announcement from the library. So far, community members and organizations have contributed around $33,000.

“The last couple of years the board has been very interested in updating the buildings,” said Holly Lague, director of the Thetford Libraries. Construction is set to begin sometime this month, she added, and the goal is to raise the remainder of the money by the end of June. Latham will be closed when the lift is installed and there will be expanded hours at Peabody.

One of the recent updates was revamping the Latham library’s lower level, which now includes technology for hybrid meetings, a better ventilation system and a space that has become a popular spot for teenagers to gather after school. Community groups, including the Thetford Elder Network, regularly meet there. The lower floor can be accessed through a door into a storage space for the Thetford Historical Society, but that requires patrons to walk on the grass, which is difficult to navigate with mobility devices, and meander between boxes to get to the community space. That leaves a narrow staircase that leads from the first floor to the lower level.

“It’s really going to affect people across the age spectrum. It’s not just disability and mobility issues” Lague said. “Parents with strollers, they don’t currently have option to get those safely down the stairs.”

Other Upper Valley libraries have also taken on accessibility projects in recent years, including the Windsor Public Library. Staff there are waiting on a state inspection to approve the library’s new chair lift before the public can use it, said library director Barbara Ball. After raising around $135,000 for the project — which also included a handicap accessible bathroom — it took about a year to find a contractor who had time to take it on. Construction began last fall and then was paused because the chair lift was backordered.

“Basically all the construction was done and then we had to wait for the lift to finally arrive a few weeks ago,” Ball said. “We’re excited it’s finally almost done.”

Editor’s note: More information about the Latham Memorial Lib rary project can be found at Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@ or 603-727-3221.

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