Community room at the New Salem Public Library ready to go

  • The community room at the New Salem Public Library. Contributed photo

  • The community room at the New Salem Public Library. Contributed photo—

Staff Writer
Published: 6/6/2019 8:44:24 AM

Previously, yoga at New Salem Public Library was practiced “among the stacks,” according to Monica Winters, co-chair of the Friends of the New Salem Public Library. This Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m., Winters and the Friends will unveil a reconfigured community room where yogis and other community members can move a little more freely.

As a part of the project, which has been ongoing for years, Winters said the library’s floor plan and book stacks were reconfigured to create quiet reading nooks and the community room. A handicapped-accessible kitchenette was renovated into the community space. Elsewhere, storage cabinets were installed, electrical wires were replaced, carpeting was updated and walls were brightened with fresh paint.

“We moved a lot of shelving and made a different children’s section and reconfigured the adult fiction stacks and the nonfiction stacks,” she said.

The new community space fills a void in New Salem. Winters said the town does not otherwise have a public place where people can gather year-round.

“The town hall is closed most of the time. We have no other buildings that can accommodate more than a dozen people,” Winters said. Since the library’s reconfiguration was unveiled a few weeks ago, “We’ve already seen an uptick in the number of people using the space.”

Other groups including Village Neighbors, Aging in Place, state building inspectors, a local writing group and the yoga class have signed up for regular use of the new space.

The project, which cost about $25,000 total, was initiated last December through a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts and followed up with many generous donations and support from the library’s Board of Trustees. The town paid for new carpeting and an updated electrical system. 

“We were very lucky. The library did not need to be closed. Our subcontractor was very flexible, our painter was very flexible. We tried to work while the library was closed,” Winters said.

The reconfiguration is the first part of a larger renovation project, Winters said. Looking ahead, the New Salem Public Library will continue to raise money for updates like moveable furniture.

“The second phase will be to work on better storage and better lighting, and better audio-video equipment,” Winters said.

At Saturday’s event, the Friends of the New Salem Public Library will serve desserts, appetizers and beverages. Everyone is invited to see firsthand the transformation of the town’s small local library, Winters said. For more information, please contact Winters at 413-563-1649 or Mary Ann Palmieri, another co-chair of the Friends of the New Salem Public Library, at 978-544-2611.


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