By KAITLYN NAPLES
After a lengthy three-year long process, the renovations are nearing completion at Manross Library— just in time for the busy summer months that are right around the corner.
The Manross Library building was constructed in 1975 to replace the old Manross family homestead, Library Director Francine Petosa said. When the building was constructed, it did not have an elevator in it, and hasn’t up until recently.
In 2010, the process of several upgrades and improvements at the Manross Library began and has finally reached the finish line.
“It has been a long project, but we are happy that we started, that it’s almost done, and it’s coming in under budget,” Donna Papazian, chair of the Manross Renovations Committee, said.
Since 1975, library visitors have been using the stairs to go up and down at the Manross Library, and if they were handicapped, they needed to go around the front of the building outside in the parking lot. Once the renovations were completed at the main library after 2006, Petosa said the library board was ready to focus on what was needed at the Manross Library.
“We did a feasibility study, and had a strategic plan in place” regarding what improvements were needed at that branch, she said, adding the Manross family has an endowment for that library that is strictly for special projects, not ongoing expenses. The library board allocated $500,000 for all of the renovations, and the entire project is coming in at $430,000 so far with only a few improvements left, such as landscaping.
“I think the Manross family would be pleased,” Petosa said.
Other than the new elevator, the library also added storage space for the Friends of the Library, refurbished the lobby outside the elevator, added security outside of the library, and also created an entrance in the lower parking lot so accessing the entire library is easier. The city took care of paving the lower parking lot and added some drainage, but everything else was covered by the interest earned on the Manross family fund.
“We’ve received such compliments,” Petosa said, from the library visitors and also at the recent open house that brought in about 60 people.
The Manross Library has a large, older population that utilizes its services, as well as parents who visit with children in strollers, so the new renovations will allow for the library to increase its patrons and hopefully its programming too. Papazian and Petosa both said the library is always welcoming suggestions and thinking of improvements and new programming that will cater to the public.
Petosa said more and more organizations and civic groups are utilizing the meeting space on the lower level at the Manross Library, and the new improvements will hopefully bring in more. There is meeting space at the main library, however if it gets filled on a certain day, she said library staff can refer that group to the Manross Library. The downstairs meeting room at Manross is also used for other social events like movies that bring in a large crowd, Papazian said.
The library is constantly looking for ways to improve both of its facilities, and in June both sites will be getting new computers, which are leased every four years. Also, the summer months are coming up when it is a busy time at the library with plenty of programs and events offered, Petosa said.
“It is the perfect time in the library, especially for the children because studies have shown that if they (children) continue to read over the summer, they won’t lose the ground they gained during the year,” Petosa said.
The library offers summer reading programs for children, teens and also adults. Sign-ups are June 17 and the program begins on June 24.
“The staff puts in a lot of work to get the public into the library,” many programs and events that are fee, and also incentives.
For more information on the libraries in Bristol, visit www.bristollib.com. The Manross Library is located at 260 Central St., in Forestville, and the main library is located at 5 High St., in Bristol.
By KAITLYN NAPLES