Proposed $8M Tilton Library renovation could see grant support soon

  • Candace Bradbury-Carlin, director of Tilton Library in South Deerfield, pictured in 2019. Bradbury-Carlin spoke with the Deerfield Selectboard last week regarding a proposed $8 million library renovation. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 4/27/2021 3:26:40 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With Tilton Library having moved up the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ priority list for grant funding, the town has resumed discussion on a proposed $8 million library renovation.

The project — which includes renovating and expanding the existing building, as well as improving accessibility and the heating, ventilation and cooling systems — is expected to be partially funded by a grant from the Board of Library Commissioners.

“We moved up the (wait) list from 15, which is where we started in 2017, to No. 5,” Tilton Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin explained during a recent Deerfield Selectboard meeting. “It’s possible we will be offered the grant (by July 2021), so we need to be prepared.”

Bradbury-Carlin explained the grant covers 50 percent of the estimated cost at the time of the application, meaning it will cover about $4 million. Additionally, the library is committed to raising $2 million toward the project.

Borrowing for the project would require approval at Town Meeting and as it would be a debt exclusion, it would also require a ballot vote, explained Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel.

Bradbury-Carlin presented the proposed plans for the renovation, which includes the addition of restrooms, a new elevator, more space for books and computers, and some new meeting rooms.

After seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the way in which the library serves its patrons, the plans also now take into consideration the potential for a future public health crisis.

“Some things that stuck out for us as a library was making sure we designed for indoor flexibility of space to allow social distancing for staff and patrons; to have permanent outdoor structures for curbside pickup; to have an area for outdoor computer usage … and maybe a pavilion-type structure to have protection from the elements,” Bradbury-Carlin said.

She said the proposed project is a chance for a “future-ready building” for the town.

“This could be a model for not only our town, but our state and our country,” she said.

Selectboard Chair Carolyn Shores Ness said she wants to ensure the renovation involves “green” options.

“We are going for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified,” Bradbury-Carlin replied.

McDaniel asked if there is a timeline for knowing a more exact cost.

“As soon as we get the grant, that would probably be one of the first steps, to get back in touch with the architects,” Bradbury-Carlin said. “If we get the grant this year, then we would probably start having conversations in August, September. If we don’t get it this year, it would probably be a year after that.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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