When I meet someone new and tell them I'm a librarian, they are often shocked. First, they seem surprised that libraries still exist and then they ask, "What do librarians even do or are libraries still relevant?" My response is often something along the lines of librarians help people and we are definitely relevant.
Lives change at the library. This may sound like an over-the-top statement. Here is why I think it's true.
As director of the Reuben Hoar Library for the past four years, and as a librarian at both public and college libraries for 11 years before coming to Littleton, I've seen the impact libraries can have on people of all ages and backgrounds.
I take great pride in the fact that I helped a senior who lost his job of 30 years build the skills he needed to find a new job after being laid off. I taught him what were basic computer skills to me, but what seemed like a mountain too steep for him to climb.
I helped a patron to research his family history and the father he lost at a young age during World War II. I've helped teens to locate the scholarship opportunities that helped them pay for college. This is just a small sample of how my staff and I have made an impact on the lives of the people in our community.
I can't tell you how to vote when we bring our new library project to fall Town Meeting. I feel like it's a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves.
All I can say is we do need more space, we are not ADA compliant, and we have broken windows and many other issues with our current building. We don't want a new building just for these reasons.
We need a new building to offer even better services -- like a makerspace for kids and teens to learn science and math skills. For more meeting spaces where people can socialize and enjoy our free programs that help them to learn and grow, and more space in our children's room that will help them to grow a love of reading.
We are relevant to people all over this community that you never hear about and I hope you feel they need a new library just as much as we do.
A Message from our Trustees
The Reuben Hoar Library Building Project has hit a much anticipated and important milestone: On July 11, MBLC awarded Littleton a $5.8M grant for construction of a new library. The Town now has six months to secure funding for the remainder of the project. This means the funding for the Library Building project will be up for vote at Fall Special Town Meeting. If this Article is not approved we will lose this grant and our opportunity for a new library for our town.
The Library Trustees have been working on this project for the last 10 years. We have met with many boards and citizens to design a new library that addresses the needs of all of our citizens -- from the beginning reader through young adults, and senior citizens -- for years to come, while maintaining our town character and staying within our budget. The Trustees are currently using the $1.5M from May’s Special Town Meeting to finalize the building design and to update the cost estimate for construction. We continue to work with other Town boards to fund the remainder of the town’s share of the library project and minimize the impact to the taxpayer. We encourage you to stop by the library to see the latest architectural renderings of the new building and also to voice your support of this project to our town boards.
Thanks to the donations and pledges of neighbors like you, we have raised $650,000 for the project so far. We also continue to actively fundraise to reach (or exceed!) our $1 million goal. If you would like to add your name to our growing list of donors, please visit .
The new library will be a source of pride for our community. It will be accessible to all and have larger spaces for our children and teens to hang out. It will have places to sit and read or study, and more meeting rooms for events. The library is a place where are all welcome regardless of age, race, or income. Please help us make this project a reality and support us as we continue our efforts to build a functional and accessible new library for our community that will serve us all for decades to come.
The stories you haven't heard
In the ongoing discussion about a new library, I’d like to add some voices that most of you may never hear. They belong to the many members of our community who are regular and passionate library users. But you won’t see them at Town Meeting or at a fundraising event because they are too young, or unable to drive at night (or at all), or they are single parents who can’t afford a sitter. But they are still a part of our town and as fellow citizens we have a duty to provide for all our neighbors, especially those who need us the most.
First of all, of course, are children. They flock to the library in droves, enchanted by the stories, the train table, and the puzzles. For many, the library is their first introduction to the world at large. Our children’s librarians make sure they feel comfortable and listened to, while opening their eyes and minds to the wonders of the worlds contained within the pages of a book. The library also provides an opportunity for the children’s caretakers to interact, to share their experiences of what can be a trying time of life.
When kids graduate to the Young Adult area, many of them walk with their friends up the path from the Russell Street and Middle Schools to hang out at the library. They check out books or electronic games, play on the computers, do their homework, or just lounge around the YA area. The library offers them independence in a safe place.
The High School’s Special Education Department has been doing an amazing job, bringing kids to the library to check out materials and practice their social skills. A pair of teenage boys on the autism spectrum who began the school year last September too uncomfortable to speak to us or even make eye contact, returned on their own over the summer. They asked the staff questions, checked out DVDs, and then hung around in the comfy chairs. I was gratified to see how far they’d come.
The library is hugely important to marginalized adults as well. A while ago we had a retired gentleman who needed to fill out an online application for a job at Home Depot, but he was unfamiliar with computers. Library Director Sam Alvarez sat with him at one of the computers and helped him set up an email account and fill out the application. This past year I have been helping a woman from Brazil apply for citizenship for her son. She has difficulty navigating the various federal websites with her somewhat limited English. We regularly assist patrons in signing up for MassHealth, a confusing and frustrating process that prompted one man recently to say, ”I’m so grateful for your help I could cry.”
The building complex down the street from the library offers housing for mentally challenged, low income, and elderly residents. Most of them are able to walk to the library to check out or use the things they might not be able to afford, such as books, DVDs, magazines, and computers. Older people in general, who may be retired and on fixed incomes, populate our Reading Area daily, perusing the library’s 11 newspaper and 115 magazine subscriptions. They also benefit from our heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. The library is a place for people to meet up and chat, a godsend for seniors living alone.
If we can manage to provide all these services in our current building with its limited space, sub-par handicapped accessibility, and unreliable heating and cooling systems, imagine what we might accomplish with a new facility!
In closing, I leave you with two quotes. David Leonard, president of the Boston Public Library, has this to say: “We see the library as a way of giving equal opportunity to all in our society”.
And one from one of our young patrons on the autism spectrum: “I love the library! It’s the only place I can be ME!”
The library gives to seniors
The state has granted the Town of Littleton $5,844,747 to partially fund a new library building. Wearing my resident senior citizen hat, I urge residents to support the final vote at the October 28 Special Town meeting, setting the shovels and hammers in motion.
I do not deny the need for a senior center, and I certainly support Littleton creating one. I also think the library needs (and indeed deserves) the expansion required to meet the needs of ALL of Littleton’s residents, including the growing senior population.
Since 1972, I have been a big supporter and user of the Reuben Hoar Library. I have written books using their materials. I have been reading my way through their collections of mysteries, other fiction, and nonfiction like memoirs, humor, travel, and history. I have sampled their large CD collection, enjoying some favorite music and learning some new styles. I have donated well over a thousand books to the library book sales both here and in Lincoln where (full disclosure) I am a retired reference librarian. I have enlivened road trips and commuting with audiobooks. I have occasionally made forays to museums using membership discounts through the library. I have enjoyed movies via their DVD collection. The American Library Association’s “Library Value Calculator” estimates that my use of the library is worth $3685.70 a year.
The best part is, I am just one of hundreds of senior citizens and thousands of Littleton residents of all ages who use and enjoy the library regularly. I am impressed with the fundraising the Friends of the Reuben Hoar Library have already accomplished and I encourage residents to vote in favor of the new library at the fall Special Town Meeting on Monday October 28. If we do not take advantage of this opportunity, we will still need a new library but will have to pay the whole cost ourselves. Let’s get those hammers and shovels in motion.
Build a library accessible to all
I am writing to express my support for the Library Building Project, and my excitement about the funding grant the town has received for it.
As a member of Littleton's Disability Commission, I am deeply appreciative that our group was consulted in helping to ensure the proposed new structure could be conceived and constructed in a universally user-friendly and ADA-compliant manner. I wholeheartedly support such meaningful steps towards increasing the general accessibility of town buildings and facilities so that all Littleton residents may have opportunities for accessing and utilizing these resources equally.
As a legally-blind resident myself with two young daughters, I am personally excited by new opportunities these updates represent. In the past, at times when my wife would bring our girls to visit the library, it has honestly felt easier for me to refrain from going with them, knowing that my navigational challenges associated with older buildings could potentially limit or impede their ability to enjoy and explore. The updates spelled out in the proposal, described in terms of structure, technology and capabilities, hold genuine promise for creating more inclusive, positive, modern experiences for me, and many other library patrons who are aging or otherwise impaired, for years to come.
Please ensure such needs and considerations are being factored in to overall planning.
The library is for students
Littleton High School History Teacher
People learn best in communities, and students are no exception. Communities form within the classroom and in clubs, but sometimes the most authentic learning experiences occur when students collaborate with those outside of the school. In my experience as a teacher at Littleton High School, I have been fortunate to see my students work with the staff members of the Reuben Hoar Library year after year. The library has welcomed our students, and allowed them to learn from each other and other community members in a supportive environment. For this reason, I write in support of Littleton Library Building Project and the creation of a new home for the Reuben Hoar Library.
When I consider the positive role the library has played in the lives of my students, I think of the work the library has done with my students working on their Local History Projects. Students in our AP United States History class produce year long research projects explaining how the larger trends and phenomena in American history manifested themselves in Littleton's past. Alongside the Littleton Historical Society, the Reuben Hoar Library plays an outsized role in this process. When students need scholarly sources to contextualize primary sources from the historical society, the librarians guide them through the interlibrary loan process. When students come up empty handed, the librarians introduce them to the local history collection in the Houghton Historical Room.
But the most valuable support consists of the community created by the library. My students are always welcomed to the library, and many have formed productive working relationships with the librarians over the course of their projects. We use the library's Couper Room as the gathering space for students to present their projects and to discuss them over food with community members, many of whom are the librarians who come to support the students in the final culmination of their work.
As a teacher in town for a decade, I have always known that the library is a partner and ally in our mission to raise up students as critical thinkers who are prepared for citizenship. But an institution as important as the library needs a physical plant proportionate to the aspirations we have for our children. I can say with confidence that an investment in a new building for the Reuben Hoar LIbrary is an investment in the future of Littleton’s young people.
The library is a home away from home
The Reuben Hoar Library has been a home away from home for me and my family for the last 20 years.
At first, it was a refuge—a place to go just to get out of the house with my two young boys. It quickly became a place to meet (and make) friends, mine and theirs. We would be there for hours on a rainy day, the parents socializing while our kids played, did crafts, and then snuggled in our laps as we read to them. On days when the weather called for us to be outside, we would meet there to load up our book bags for the week before we headed to the park in the spring or the hill out back to sled in the winter. It was during this time that the librarians became our friends too. They welcomed us, recommended the perfect books, and made us feel connected to each other and our town. We came back week after week after week. Unquestionably my children are the happy, curious and well-read young adults they are today in large part because of this wonderful library.
Seven years ago the library became my place of employment. When I was offered the job I almost couldn’t believe that I was going to be part of the amazing RHL staff. Now, instead of being welcomed, I was the one who got to welcome families to the library. Now I got to register new patrons and give children their first library card (the big smiles of recipients etched in my heart). And over the years I have become very fortunate to get to know Littleton children and adults so well that I can now readily and enthusiastically recommend new materials to them. I never knew I could enjoy a job so much.
People say we have an amazing library. And in so many ways we do. As I said, the staff is truly remarkable. They are kind and smart and resourceful and go out of their way day after day to make their patrons happy. They have taught me how to be the very best librarian I can be. When Littletonians say they love their library, I understand it is not the building they love, it is the beating heart of the building—the staff and all that they do—that they love.
While the heart of the library is vibrant and strong, its framework is not. On a daily basis, I observe numerous issues and limitations with this building that was never intended to be a library. Parents with strollers and elderly patrons with mobility challenges struggle to navigate the stairs in our entrance. People in wheelchairs get stuck in our noisy, often malfunctioning, lift. I have seen this happen multiple times just this year, and it is frightening and embarrassing for both patron and staff. We are not ADA accessible and, once inside, patrons in wheelchairs cannot traverse much of the library. I have never seen a sizable wheelchair in the children’s room, it just wouldn’t fit. The children’s room is too small for its collection and is in real need of a dedicated story-time area and well-designed play space. The teen area abuts the computer terminals; consequently neither group has the privacy it needs. The library also does not have enough space for our new acquisitions, therefore in order to be current and maintain our certification we must get rid of hundreds of books, dvds and music cds each year. And as there is a shortage of dedicated meeting space, my colleagues and I have to turn away people requesting meeting rooms on a regular basis because they are full. For the last few decades, Littleton librarians have done the best they can to retrofit a library into a vacant school building. For every reason I mention above (and many more), the current space is no longer adequate. The people of Littleton deserve better.
Many people ask us why we don’t just renovate and expand. The answer is because experts have studied this building extensively and have concluded that it would be more costly to renovate it for our purposes than it would be to build a brand new state-of-the-art library.
So what is a town in this position to do? With a $5.8 million dollar grant on the table and nearly $700,000 of funds raised from residents, local businesses and big-hearted kids running read-a-thons and lemonade stands, Littleton’s proposed library is well within reach. This is an opportunity to seize. The alternative? Our existing library continues to fail us until we have no option but to pay full price, or close to it, for a new one (as grants, which are becoming fewer and farther between, will not be eligible until at least 2030). Or perhaps we no longer have a town library. Imagine that. This is a real possibility and one that is unfathomable to me. So let’s return to our amazing opportunity. This new library has been thoughtfully and meticulously discussed, researched, designed by experts, and redesigned after town feedback over the last ten years. The homework has been done by many and done well. The new library will have the appropriate space needed for our collection, a bigger and well-designed area for children and adults, a separate and spacious area for teens, more quiet work space, private computer terminals, and additional study rooms and large meeting spaces. It will be energy efficient and not just ADA compliant, but universally accessible. Ultimately it will be built to be flexible, with a strong focus on design for all people, community experience and innovation.
We as librarians sometimes see the role of libraries undervalued in our increasingly digital world. Public library services that focus on building community face-to-face, inspiring and educating patrons about literature and the arts, and helping them engage in civil discourse can seem old-fashioned. But cultural and community offerings are more important than ever. Libraries are much more than books and technology. Libraries shape citizens and build community. They educate individuals and foster thoughtful conversation. The Reuben Hoar Library does all of this and more. It is an essential component of our town. And its future is in our hands. It needs us now—and it is most certainly worth fighting for and worth funding.
One last thing…should you be looking for me on October 28th you can find me at Town Meeting. I will be
there proudly, and without reservation, to cast my vote in favor of Littleton’s new library. See you
The library needs spaces for all
As the parent of an autistic child, I would like to express our support for a new library in Littleton. Autism’s most recognizable characteristic is a meltdown due to sensory overload. The existing Reuben Hoar Library is not sensory friendly. A new library, with open spaces and quiet areas, will be a haven not to just families impacted by Autism, but all families.
Every parent has had that moment: you go out someplace with your child, the child has a temper tantrum, and you have to leave, usually mortified by your child’s behavior. For an autistic individual, the entire world, including the existing RHL, is sensory overload. When a meltdown occurs in a public space such as the RHL, where the teen room is right next to the public computer use area, and there is barely enough room to navigate through the stacks of books, not only are you, the parent, mortified, but the autistic child, who does not have the skills to manage or control their own behavior, feels horrid as well. An activity that child was looking forward to has ended in the most devastating to their self-confidence way.
How ever you feel about Autism, learning disabilities, or childhood temper tantrums, no child should ever suffer for behavior beyond their control. No parent should, either. As a parent, who hurts for her child every time he hurts, I saw places to go within the library when a meltdown occurs that would not disrupt the rest of the libraries’ patrons. I saw areas where a meltdown could pass, without shame or embarrassment, and my son’s afternoon could continue as planned. A new library will have rooms available if needed for this purpose, quiet places to read and study, and additional space for support and social groups to meet. These are things that everyone, not just those of us impacted by developmental disabilities, will benefit from. A new library will improve the RHL’s capabilities as Littleton’s community center and allow it better serve all of its members. Please vote YES to a new library on October 28.
The Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which networks and encourages writers in Central Massachusetts. Part of our mission is to provide writing opportunities for writers of all levels of all genres for low to no cost. In order to fulfill this initiative, we partner with local libraries who host our events – everything from writing groups which spur creativity to workshops on craft for honing skills to open mics where writers share their work with one another. One of our partner libraries is the Reuben Hoar Library in Littleton.
As a partner, the library provides space for events which otherwise could not occur and which offers opportunities for writers in our area which they can afford and access. In the years SBWC has operated, we have discovered that people enjoy attending writing events at their local libraries, instead of having to travel into Boston, and that they appreciate being able to gain writing skills for free or very low cost, because it can be prohibitive to try to take classes in other ways. As a partner library, the Reuben Hoar Library has allowed SBWC to reach more writers in Central MA than SBWC could without the use of their meeting space.
With the prospect of a new library building, the Reuben Hoar Library would be able to support more options, not just for local writers, but other groups within all the creative arts and for the town community as a whole. Additional meeting space would mean many groups wanting to reserve space would have opportunity to do so, and more would be happening at the library for people to take advantage of locally and for free to low cost. A new library building could engage the community in new and different ways. Already the building is being designed with input from community groups and town residents to make sure that the additional meeting spaces suit the needs now and for years to come.
As an organization which has seen just how much good libraries do for community involvement and engagement, Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative supports and encourages any initiative which would provide more prospects for the community as a whole.
The library helps teachers
Library Trustee and LHS teacher
I am writing today to voice my support for the Reuben Hoar Library (RHL) in Littleton. I am currently a member of the RHL Board of Trustees, but that is not the only motivation to write. My day job is a history teacher at Littleton High School, one I adore. A major part of the curriculum for my US History classes is the creation of a research paper, utilizing primary and secondary sources on any topic from 1600-1914 in US history. The process of writing an historical research paper has many stages, the longest of which is doing the actual research.
That is where the remarkable staff at RHL come in. Whether it is tracking down books through interlibrary loan or making connections for the students that neither they nor I thought of, which often leads to unusual insights and interesting papers, the librarians at RHL are the experts. In addition to coming in to work with the librarians directly, the Book-A-Librarian feature the staff offers introduces students the necessary tools of how to research online (beyond history.com), and through the library catalogue and the databases available for free to patrons of the library.
How would a new library building help? Currently, library materials must be removed as early as 3 years after purchase due to limited space, so although inter-library loan is a useful tool, having materials on site would be better. In addition, more study spaces, additional computers and charging stations will be available for students to use, with librarians available to help with their research process.
I often hold movie nights for my students when we view films that have historical content related to our curriculum. In the past I have been fortunate to book the Couper room for this purpose, but that has become increasingly difficult. It is the largest meeting room in the library (49 people max) and is constantly in use.. The new library building will have a large meeting room for up to 120 people (wired for LCTV), in addition to a number of spaces for smaller groups.
Our fundraising and the generous grant from the State has proved we are in a good place to make the vision of a new library a real possibility. I urge you to vote to build Littleton’s 21st century library.
Seniors use the library in many ways
Times have changed since bringing my children to the first library they knew, now the Historical Society. As my husband and I “age in place” we make at least weekly trips to the Reuben Hoar Library to borrow books and enjoy programs at our current library. As leader for the Genealogy Group, I notice our current space issues - on a weekday morning the staff has juggled to accommodate us, as well as a parent and child program, a veterans service representative, and a set up for a book sale.
For many years, I served senior citizen populations in surrounding towns with public health and education in community settings and senior centers, asa well as health care in their homes. I understand the needs for providing home and on site meals and activities and transportation assistance.
What I also know, is having an “accessible” library with its many programs and books available reaches many of our aging folks who may be physically challenged, more introverted, or less socially at ease. They are often less visible but more passionate about challenging their minds than their bodies.
Building a new library is a big deal! I have supported all fundraising efforts and, as a taxpayer, realize the impact for town funds to make this a reality.
I am ready for one more library move! A new place for “my senior years” that will also serve people of all ages in Littleton well into the future.
Because a public library does matter
I am writing to ask for your support to fund the new building to house the Reuben Hoar Library (RHL). Why? Because a public library matters. A public library is not just a building but the embodiment of our democracy and foundational to our civic life. Its directive is to provide and protect access to information. Of all public institutions the library is unique, because it is the only one that is welcoming and free to everyone to partake of its many goods and services. It is likely the only truly democratic space in America, noncommercial and nonreligious, acting as a cultural commons for the community and fostering inquiry and literacy.
While technology may have changed in the way we access information, the mission of free and easy access to information has not changed. The RHL has successfully moved into the modern age as a center of information and technology by providing access to a broad range of digital and multimedia tools. Like other libraries it is not just a “reading library” but it is a hub of activities and programs for young and old. And for those who cherish holding and reading from a book, the RHL will accommodate. All books are free but if not immediately available and you can wait a few days they will be there for you though the magic of the interlibrary loan system. The RHL has proven to be an enduring and loved institution in the Littleton community.
The RHL, was founded in 1877, following the founding of the world’s first public library in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1833. It was housed in the old Town Hall and subsequently moved to its own building, the Houghton Building, built in1895. In modern times it found its home within the current Town Offices Building. But time marches on and the current location and facilities are inadequate for the RHL to fulfill its mission for a 21st century library. We now have an opportunity with the recent grant of $5,844,747 from the Massachusetts Board of Library (MBLC) plus an additional $650,000 (and counting) raised through philanthropic donations to provide that 21st century facility.
As the grant is conditional on the townspeople allocating the remaining funds required for the approximate total costs of $13,000,000, it is imperative that the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee give their whole-hearted support to completing this project. I applaud the way in which the Library officials/volunteers have proceeded to bring the project this far through ten years of careful planning, perseverance and transparency. They continue to do their part. Please join and support them.
I will leave it to others to address more specifically the many inadequacies of the current location and facilities of the RHL as it exists today. Others will address the value of critically expanded amenities and improvements in the proposed new building. Be persuaded.
Because a public library does matter.
An architect's viewpoint
I am writing to express my support for the proposed new library building, and to ask for your support and recommendation to Town Meeting to support the library, to be funded within the levy.
I have some thoughts on why the library project would be a good thing for Littleton. Looking at the project as a person with architectural experience I am pleased with the general design, and have suggested to the architect some ways to emphasize the entrance, as I think it is important for municipal buildings to have a visible and even grand entry point, as functions that serve and are owned by the public. The sloped site at first seemed to put the library out of the way, but that location will reflect and increase the visibility of the Town Office entrances, and create a sense of ‘municipal center’ where there is now only a parking lot. The library will be used more than the Town Offices but having it there will create a synergy that is more than the sum of the parts, something to counterbalance the Point development and the general tendency to disperse town functions all over town (Police, Fire, Highway, Schools). Given the expected growth of Littleton’s diverse parts (train station area) having a busy, unified central point for municipal functions becomes even more important.
A personal reason I have for supporting the new library building is some work I do occasionally for the School system. For several years I have tutored children in the system who are out of the regular school buildings for medical or other reasons. The preferred place for me to meet with these students is the library, as it is a public, neutral space, with both many resources and quiet spaces in which to work. The small meeting rooms I use are not always available due to other meetings, and are sometimes uncomfortably hot or cold. Regardless of my success (or not) working with individual students, the building is a statement of community values that leaves an impression on my students and influences the outcome. I have done similar work in surrounding towns
and have noted that the spaces we meet in do make a difference in student attitude. The size, newness, and variety of available spaces all are positive influences; if a building looks and feels both important and inviting to a student, the work to be done becomes more important.
As a member of the Community Preservation Committee I have seen the Town find ways to leverage money in order to get the State matching Funds. Here also is an opportunity to leverage Town money to get a say $13 million building for almost half price. That to me is a huge reason by itself to support the new library building.
Libraries help teachers
Pre-school teacher and storytime reader
Dear Board of Selectmen,
I urge you to support the new library at the October town meeting. I’ve lived in Littleton for 18 years. When my children were little the library was a lifeline. Now as a teacher it is an invaluable tool. While I would like to buy every book for every subject my students are studying, this is not financially feasible!
It’s like the librarians know that preschool teachers work in themes... Every month they put out books relevant to what I, and many other teachers, need! In September there is sure to be a display of back to school and apple themed books. In October, I am grateful I can count on pumpkins and Halloween books to be out. In November, they have Thanksgiving and in December they bring out Holiday books. This may seem like a little thing but it has saved me hours. I could print out a list of available titles and search for them but it's great to run in and know that the right book is waiting. SInce my children are older it would be very easy for my selections to become stagnant with books from when they were young, but the display of new books or a helpful librarian asking if I have seen this new book is fantastic. They understand that books are a window into teaching young children. We are lucky that the librarians at Reuben Hoar Library are as invested in my students’ education as I am.
Please help the library to continue to help me and my students and vote to support the new library project on October 28, 2019!
A library is essential
Library Trustee and local author
Thank you to the citizens of Littleton for approving the library design funding at May’s Town Meeting. Eighty-two percent of those present supported the article. As someone involved in the library project, it is inspiring to know it has so much support.
I’ve recently heard residents unconvinced about the project say a new library is not a need for our town, but merely something we want. Because we already have a library that serves the town very well.
Since my spouse and I moved to town in 1999, Littleton has built a new high school, a new police station, and a new fire station, and has prioritized renovations to the elementary schools, the middle school, and the athletic field. Those services had (and have) employees who serve the town well.
Does anyone think that new buildings and technology for emergency services were not necessities simply because their employees served the town well? After all, I’ve never needed an ambulance. For that matter, were any of those projects wants, not needs? They all existed before new construction or renovations began.
Of course not. If “currently existing with staff who serve the town well” was our baseline for new construction, nothing would ever be rebuilt.
Littleton has grown more than twelve percent in the last 20 years. Of course state-of-the-art emergency services and schools with 21st-century technology are necessary. Just because I’ve never needed an ambulance doesn’t mean I don’t want one immediately if I do—or if my family, friends, or neighbors do.
On the other hand, I’ve used the library about once a week for the last 17 years. Littleton residents use the library for job searches, for town events, as a community center, for committee meetings, for research, for access to the internet. Just because you have never personally needed those services doesn’t mean you won’t next week or next year.
Littleton has never built a library. The current building was formerly the Shattuck Street Elementary School--built in 1922. The staff works miracles to manage a building never meant to suit the needs of a library that is crumbling around them. We can’t bandage the wounds forever.
What would Littleton look like with no public library?
I don’t think we want to find out. The new library is as vital as any other service. We need it to meet the demands of a growing 21st-century town.