Message from the Executive Director
New Year, Improved Me
I’ve never been one to declare my new year’s resolutions. As one year gives way to another, I try to make some personal assessments: What am I doing that I might need to alter, or what am I not doing that I might need to begin? I prefer to think of these as new directions or new intentions. For me, it’s never been “new year, new me,” but more like “new year, improved me.”
At CALS, and particularly at Main Library with our looming extensive renovations that will begin later in 2023, we have taken this idea of an “improved me” to heart. The thing about change is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Especially when you’re talking about rehabbing a five-story building that serves not only as home to more than 100 employees, but also as a public space that serves a multitude of audiences, from those who pop in to grab a book to those who spend hours playing in the youth area or listening to stories, to those who simply use the space to seek shelter from the elements.
Planning for Main 2.0 began the day after the bonds were approved last May. A lot of work behind the scenes has been happening ever since. The largest downside of all this will be the need to close Main to make way for more efficient construction and to spare our employees the low-grade misery of enduring the noise and hardship of working amidst the demolition and rebuilding. We must do this without completely interrupting the services our patrons have come to know, love, and depend upon.
Unfortunately, as we began planning to juggle employees and spaces and looking around for nearby temporary locations that we could afford to rent, we realized that it would be necessary to utilize some of our other space at Library Square if we were going to continue to serve the public’s basic needs for books, programs, and space. This means some offerings at Library Square will shift or no longer be available. After looking at every option, we realized that the beautiful space housing the Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square would be better served as a place where patrons could conveniently pick up books without tripping over construction debris.
At the moment, we anticipate shuttering the Galleries & Bookstore in late spring/early summer to prepare for the big move of some basic services across Rock Street from Main. We lament losing the space for local artists and authors to sell their work at CALS, but we are optimistic that when the Main Library is completely restored, it will contain some retail space for marketing used books and perhaps some art. We will maintain our commitment to exhibiting art throughout Library Square and adding more public art in the remodeling. There are five employees at the Galleries & Bookstore who are an instrumental part of CALS. We hope to find new roles for them at CALS if they are willing to stay.
We hope that you will come out and say goodbye and support the local artists’ work that has come to call the Galleries their home. Once the dust (literally) settles at Main, we will regroup and determine what that space will become in the future, whether it houses a small café or a retail space, we are unsure at the moment, but know that we will do what is best for our patrons and for CALS while continuing to be good stewards of the money trusted to us.
Finally, this project is a large one that will be enjoyed and utilized long into the future. We want the community to be proud of its revitalized library and eager to use it when it reopens. Our architects and the contractors (once they are selected) will conduct public meetings to gather input from library users about what they like or don’t like about proposed ideas. And we will strive to keep the public abreast of any changes as we learn of them.