Library DrawingThe CONNector

JANUARY 2000Volume 2 Number 1

Connecticut Public Libraries - New, Expanded or Renovated

Canton Public Library/Community Center

Mary Louise Jensen, Building Consultant

Canton Public Library children's room
Canton Public Library children's room

On December 11, 1999, the Canton Public Library/Community Center was dedicated. Canton is located in the Farmington Valley, 14 miles west of Hartford, with a population of 8,500 living in an area of 25 square miles. The town was established in 1737, and was developed from four distinct villages which remain today. The Canton Public Library/Community Center is located in a residential community across the street from the Canton Intermediate School and within a short walking distance of the high school.

The Canton Public Library, which was formerly housed in a 2,998 square foot building in the center of town, shares a converted elementary school of 35,000 square feet with the Senior Center, Parks and Recreation Department, and the Community Center. The library takes up 16,209 square feet of the building. The additional 13,211 square feet will enable the library to provide the services the community needs well into the new millennium. The total cost of the library portion of the project, $2,408,904, was partially funded with a $500,000 State Public Library Construction Grant.

It is hard to believe that the open adult service area was previously classrooms with a centralized corridor, and the children's room was a gym, cafeteria, and multipurpose room for the school. Except for the librarian's office and part of the technical services area, the building had the structural advantage of being built on a slab and was therefore capable of supporting the stacks without reinforcement. A structural disadvantage was that the classroom walls were load-bearing. Because the design of the adult services area called for an open area, portions of the walls were removed while sections had to remain.

Canton Public Library circulation area
Canton Public Library circulation area

The architect, Norman Baier from Galliher, Baier, and Best Architects, designed a very appealing library and community center. The high gym ceiling with glass blocks on one side was left in the children's area, and white clouds were suspended to create a sky effect. There is a story hour and craft room attached to the children's room. The library also has two quiet study rooms, a local history room and a meeting room that seats 40. The community center has an additional seven meeting rooms. The entire library is designed to accommodate evolving technology requirements.

Since there is parking in the front and back of the building, there are two outside library entrances opposite each other. An interior entrance runs perpendicular to the outside entrances and provides access to the library from the library meeting room and community center. The circulation desk staff are able to supervise all three entrances.

If you are interested in more information about the Canton Public Library, go to the library's webpage.

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