Friday, May 15, 2015

Farmington Room Grand Reopening: May 12, 2015

There is nothing better than a reawakening reopening!

It was fabulous to bring so many interested parties together to show off our new Farmington Room assets: BiblioBoard, designed to support Paideia studies managed by Travis Feder and the digitization of the Farmington Valley Herald newspaper managed by Laura Horn. These projects will allow students an others to access information previously difficult to reach through an elegant automated indexing system. 

The Highlight of the event was a celebration of Betty and Dr. Alan Coykendall’s endowment gift to the Libraries “ Farmington Room”. The headline of the event was the discovery, purchase and presentation of two long lost Greek History volumes removed from the libraries original 18th century collection, and given by Dr. Paul Kramer.

We all had a great time and it is exciting to see resurgence in interest in the Farmington’s History.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Farmington Libraries
The Best Deal in Town

The Main library and Barney Library are examples of Mid-Century Modern and Neoclassical Architecture, respectively. The libraries are among the best-used in the state, with about one million service units issued each year. Free services include: books, video, e-books, laptops and public computers, w-fi, Nooks and Kindles, children’s and adult programs, art exhibits, concerts, book talks, travelogues, an annual book sale, and coffee bar, as well as a passport facility and notary public services. Coming soon are a Maker Space and Media Lab. On top of all of that, they’re great places just to visit, meet friends, or relax. Farmington Libraries, the best deal in Town.

Faces of 

Barney Library 
 Main Library Kids Space 

 Main Library Kids Programming 



Monday, April 20, 2015

Karen Zigler, 2015 Employee of the Yeart

I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such a magnificent Team of colleagues, each of who love the work and the people we serve. Karen Ziegler is indeed one of the best of the best as determined by her peers and her subsequent nomination as the 2015 Employee of the Year.    

Congratulations Karen!

Farmington Libraries: A Short History

Farmington Libraries
A Short History

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
Franz Kafka

(Part I) “The Villages”

The American tradition of a free publicly funded library was enabled in Connecticut in 1894 through the General Statutes. Up until that point, subscription libraries had been formed to provide collections exclusively to those who could pay the annual fees.  Among those barred from access to American subscription libraries was a young Andrew Carnegie, whose denial spurred a passion for free public libraries. Carnegie went on to found 2,509 libraries worldwide through his philanthropy.

Farmington’s first subscription libraries were housed in private homes. These small collections grew into larger public venues in the late 19th century. Julia Brandegee, like Carnegie, organized the free Tunxis Library in 1882, which eventually reorganized as the Village Library Company. Julia’s egalitarian enthusiasm had apparently struck a chord throughout Farmington. Sarah Porter either shared or was ignited by Julia’s populist beliefs, as evidenced by her two-acre land bequest to the Village Library Company to build a free public library,

This 1901 Porter bequest precipitated the formation of the Farmington Village Green & Library Association (The Association) in order to receive her gift.  The Porter gift demanded the Association respond by delivering a Free Public Library to the people of Farmington. D. Newton Barney, the Association’s newly elected president, became personally engaged with this effort, using his own means to finance and manage the design and construction of the new neoclassical Sarah Brandegee Memorial Library, which he and the trustees dedicated in his mother’s name in 1918.

This bibliographic confluence affected Unionville as well, where the free West End Library’s 1894 beginnings became the new 1917 Renaissance-styled West End Carnegie Library. Carnegie demanded the petitioning grantee to provide the site, while Carnegie provided for the design, construction and interiors costs. This library served Unionville through 1959 under the leadership of the West End Library Association, which originally had petitioned Carnegie for a library. However, after significant deliberation, the West End Library Association, having moved from the original Carnegie building, was subsumed into the Farmington Libraries, therein becoming the West End Branch Library.

(Part II) “The Farmington Library”

The Brandegee Memorial Library became the Village Library through oral tradition, and as its named changed, its ability to serve all the people of Farmington waned. This became increasingly apparent during the late 1970’s when, although additions were made, the town’s population growth, increased demand for more library space, and the idea of consolidation of resources into a new central library that would serve both Farmington and Unionville became the Association’s goal. This amalgamation of library service for the two boroughs was constituted and realized through the tireless negotiations between the Association and Library Board, and the Building Committee, Town, citizens and donors. The new Farmington Library was designed, constructed, and finally commissioned in 1983.  This modern, mid-century structure provided a flexible and broad platform from which to continue on the traditions of Farmington’s library service developed at the Village and West End libraries, engaging the two communities together as a united Farmington. The Unionville library was purchased by the Town for other purposes, while the Village Library—renamed The Barney Library to honor its seminal creator—remained as an active branch library, serving the Eastern part of the town and a serving as a central focus in Farmington Village.

(Part III) “The Millennium”

The digital revolution, Farmington’s continued growth and a rapidly changing landscape and world each demanded complex, community-focused, and technically oriented programming.  However, having a gathering space for people to come together was paramount to the decision to expand the new building. To that end, the additions and renovations of the library was undertaken and commissioned in 2001-2003.  This state of the art, fifty-two thousand square foot, twenty-first century program space provides a home for one of the most comprehensive library programs in Connecticut.

(Part IV) “The Barney Library Dilemma”

The Barney Library’s ancient infrastructure placed a high fiscal load on general operations and a structural redundancy of purpose, considering the new 2003 Main Library.  Alas, the question remained, what to do with this old neoclassical building? While looking out from the portico of the Barney Library over the historic green and on to Miss Porters School the question became not why but rather why not!

After deliberation and investigation of alternative uses for the building, including demolition, the Board voted to continue the use of the building as it was intended, a library. From that point, the principal rationale for the project was to meet current ADA requirements, and improve HVAC and other systems that were inadequate to current efficiency and ergonomic standards. In particular, the existing physical layout of the building presented difficulties for wheelchair users, the elderly, mothers with strollers, and those who are physically challenged. Furthermore, the book stacks were often too close together to allow access to these patrons.

The need for an elevator, the removal of the antiquated exterior iron fire escape and the addition of a safe interior stairway for access to upper and lower levels of the building were critical to the Library’s efficient operation. Without an elevator, the use of the upper-level meeting room and the lower-level program space was not feasible for public programming.

The project was successfully based on three funding sources: 1) One million by a Connecticut State Library construction grant; 2) One million by referendum; 3) One million by fund raising. The Barney Library delivers high quality popular library services to those who use it regularly. It provides children’s programming, a Teen Space, information services, technology, and a milieu of time past. The Barney library is a tour de force and functional link to the world.

(Part V) “Maker-Space”
Continuing the traditions of the Farmington Libraries, the Association, Library Board and Library Team developed plan for a Maker-Space/Media-Lab 2012-2016. These new spaces will continue to change the library's function into a more contemporary learning environment, while enhancing our efforts to provide additional 21st century programs for the citizen-customers the Libraries serve.
The Media-Lab will have new hardware and software tools, such as Computer Aided Drafting programs to create models on 3-D printers. The new Maker-Space is designed to be a community gathering point and hands-on experiential learning center, where classes will be held to teach a range of skills from live cooking classes to bicycle repair. The Media-Lab will provide resources for learning how to edit digital media, convert analog media to digital and how to enhance analog media via digital tools. The lab will also provide a platform for video production and video casting. The Maker-Space and Media- Lab are scheduled to open in the winter of 2016

Spring 2015

Jay Johnston

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Governor Malloy signs state grant bonding for Farmington Libraries Maker space/Media Lab.

Governor Malloy signs state grant bonding for Farmington Libraries Maker space/Media Lab.   

I am very grateful to see Gov. Malloy and the State Bond commissions support the Farmington Libraries with important funding. I would also like to thank state representatives Mike Demicco and Brian Becker as well as Farmington's state senators Beth Bye and Terry Gerratana for their support.

This Grant, along with our match,  will continue to change the libraries landscape into a more contemporary learning environment and leverage our efforts to provide additional 21st century programs for our citizen-customers. Please watch for more to come as we approach our 2016 amazing grand opening.