Campaign for the Wilton Library — Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897 Tel: 203-762-3950

Campaign for the Wilton Library

FAQ (Archive Page–Historical Information Only)

How was the need for the expansion determined?

Beginning in January 2000, the Library Board created the Committee for the Future of Wilton Library to develop a strategic plan for the Library going forward. Several years earlier (1996), a space planning study was done by Aaron Cohen Associates that recommended a two-phased addition for the Library, which was already out of room for its expanding collections and programs. The Future Committee, comprised of 20 leaders in Wilton, engaged in a thoughtful process for the next two and a half years to determine the needs of the community and how the Library should respond to these needs in the context of the emerging trends in our town and the changing world of information. In order to solicit input from users and non-users alike, the Future Committee conducted focus groups and a touch-screen survey, as well as a survey called “Library Listens” that was mailed to every home in Wilton. With this data and other information from the staff and Board, the Future Committee developed the Building Program for the purpose of informing the design process by the architects.

How many square feet will be added to the Library?

The Library currently has 17,000 square feet and is planning on adding another 20,000 square feet, more than doubling the size of the building.

Why does the Library need to add 20,000 square feet?

The Library is planning for the next 30 years. In 1996 the space planning consultant advised the Library that it needed 10,000 more square feet, but that was before the advent of the Internet and widespread use of computers and before the population bulge hit Wilton. The Library needs more space for people and programs as well as for more books and media in all forms: bestsellers, large print, audio books, DVDs. and videos. The Library building has been out of space for several years and has put people and books in places where they were never intended to be.

How has the Library asked for input from the community?

Through focus groups, surveys, receptions and tours for different community groups, everyone has had several different opportunities to voice their opinions about the expansion project… and the Library will continue to solicit input throughout the process. From the “Library Listens” survey that was mailed to every home in Wilton (excellent response of over 1000 completed surveys), the Future and Building Committees learned that beyond the collections of books and media in all forms, the town would like a larger Community Room for more programs as well as an expanded Children’s Library for burgeoning programs for its youngest patrons. Next on the list were more quiet study and reading areas in attractive spaces flooded with natural light. All this information and more has been communicated to the architects as they work on the design.

How will the community benefit from the expansion?

The major benefit is the creation of a library for the 21st century where we will be able to find the books, information, and culture we are seeking in our own backyard. We will not have to travel very often to neighboring libraries. Updating our library, adapting it to new needs as well as technological advances, will enable us to continue its tradition of being a high quality institution central to our life in Wilton. It says great things about a town that places a high priority on lifelong learning, culture and the institution that promotes them. The specific benefits detailed in the Case Statement include: easier, more convenient access, more books and media in all forms (audio, DVDs, etc.), better programs in a larger, better equipped community room, an area for teens alone, an expanded children’s library, more quiet study/work areas, more computers, etc. In essence, “more library” for everyone, in new and renovated space that retains its small town feel like our old library.

How was the architect selected?

The architectural firm, Tai Soo Kim Partners, was selected on the basis of its portfolio, a letter setting forth their vision for the Library, and the presentation made before the Future and Building Committees on how the firm would handle the expansion process. Tai Soo Kim Partners was selected from a pool of exceptionally well-qualified firms because of its excellent reputation (the firm recently redesigned Cider Mill School), its respect for the modernist style of the current building, and the partners’ ability to listen well.

Will you go up or out with the expansion?

The existing building was not designed structurally for a second floor. Furthermore, current seismic codes make it prohibitively expensive to build a second floor on the original building. The codes were different in 1973 when the library building was constructed. Therefore, the expansion will be a two-story addition connected to our current building.

Will the expansion extend along Godfrey Place or along Old Ridgefield Road?

The architects have determined with us the best configuration of required parking, roadways, pedestrian walkways and expanded building. The recommendations from the Town’s Center Study were taken into account as plans were drawn.

Where will the entrance be?

The front door will be oriented toward the new parking area and the new “Pedestrian Main Street,” to allow easier access to and from the building—particularly for seniors and parents with young children.

What will go on the second floor of the expansion?

All of the public areas will remain on the first floor. The second floor will house technical services, the network center, the History Room, the administrative offices and the staff room.

Will the house for ABC (A Better Chance, Inc.) remain on the Library’s property?

Our intention is to keep ABC as a tenant on our land. ABC owns the house and leases the property on which it stands from the Library.

What is the timetable for the expansion?

We completed the Building Program and selected the architectural firm of Tai Soo Kim Partners last spring. In September, we chose a schematic design for the building from those presented by the architects. Turner Construction (builder of many Wilton Schools) was hired to do a cost estimate for the project based on the selected schematic. The architect’s design phase was finished later in the fall. Construction will most likely begin in the fall of 2003 and, if everything goes according to plan, both the expansion and renovation of our existing structure will be completed by Spring 2005.

Will the Library remain open during the construction?

Our hope is that it will remain open during the entire construction process. We do not expect that we will have to move off site, although we might have to park off site during parts of the construction.

How much will the Library expansion cost?

The cost estimate for the expansion is $8,700,000.

How will the expansion be funded?

Last spring a feasibility study was conducted by Philanthropy Partners, a local fund-raising consulting firm retained by the Library, to determine how the expansion could be funded. Based on their recommendations, we plan to raise between $3 and $3.5 million. Depending on the success of the private campaign and the final cost estimates we receive, we will make a proposal to the town for a bonding issue to fund the remainder of the project. This will be voted on by all town residents in May 2003.

When will the community be asked to give?

The Library will begin the public phase of the campaign sometime in the first half of 2003. At that time everyone in town (with the exception of the current and former Board members and a few close Friends of the Library who will have already been contacted) will be asked to consider making a gift or pledge to this extraordinary project for our town.