The Town of Raynham is currently conducting a survey to determine present and future needs of the Town in order to plan how to meet those needs in a way that best serves the community. Thinking about the future is always a good thing and having a plan for the future is an even better thing, for as Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
The Town survey has prompted me to think about the future – especially about the future of the public library in Raynham. I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you.
A library is a center of any community. It’s a place to learn, explore, discover, gather and connect. It reflects community values, plays an important role in shaping civic identity, enriches lives and helps attract young families to the town. It’s a valuable and valued service to the community.
Let’s take a look at the library at the center of Raynham.
The Cape-style building is often described as “quaint,” even though the stairs at entry level present a problem for many of our older and younger users. The building was built in 1949 and last expanded in 1991 – some 27 years ago. At 6,200 square feet, it’s the third smallest library building of the fifty Massachusetts communities serving populations of 10,000 to 14,999. Only Acushnet and Hull have smaller buildings. The average size library in Raynham’s population group is 16,000 square feet.
Square footage is important because it determines both the size of the collection and the types of services the library is able to provide. The size of the Raynham library means there isn’t enough space for the children’s collection and programming, public meetings, library programming, modern technology services, teen collections and space, private study space, comfortable seating and leisure reading space, staff work areas, storage areas and shelving – especially shelving. Shelving is needed for the fiction and non-fiction collections, juvenile books and easy readers, teen books, DVDs, compact discs, large print books, and audiobooks. The size of the Raynham building severely limits what we can provide in both collections and services for the community.
Of great concern is the parking lot. It has too few spaces, is often full and is dangerous for pedestrians – especially small children. For many library events, the full parking lot actually prevents people from stopping at the library. The footprint of the building, the size of the lot and the proximity to wetlands prevent an increase in parking spaces as well as any further additions to the building.
How will the library meet future needs of the community when it is not adequate to meet current needs? I encourage you to think about this question as you respond to the Town survey.