Plumb’s children’s room to close during renovations

Photo of Brian Gioiele

Local children looking for some extra reading material over the next couple months just need to stop by Plumb Memorial Library.

The library’s children’s department will be temporarily closed beginning Oct. 15, and library Director Joan Stokes said the more books are loaned out means fewer need to be moved and put in storage over the next few weeks.

“We’re encouraging all patrons to take out as many books as they like, and we’ll be liberal with the return policy,” said Stokes. “If they want to keep them, please keep them. The more books that are checked out means the fewer we have to then move and store. The signs are already up — start taking out as many books and materials as you like.”

This work, according to library board Chairman Jim Geissler, is the latest in what will be a series of renovations to Plumb Memorial Library scheduled over the next few years. The work began earlier this year with the renovation of the main meeting room, the result of which has been a technologically and aesthetically improved space that has become a hub for various community activities. Next to be completed is the elevator, which should be ready for public use in the next couple weeks.

“Plumb Library is really the jewel of the city,” said Stokes, adding that the children’s department area of the building has not been updated in some 50 years. “Nothing has been done, and this work is really to improve or keep current what needs to be done.”

Stokes said that library staff has already started the process by weeding through materials, both upstairs and downstairs, that go unused and removing them from the collection. Packing of materials in the children’s room has already begun, and the remainder of the children’s collection will be removed and stored after the closing on Oct. 15.

Renovations will include removal of the shelving, old and stained carpeting and other demo work, followed by replacing the ceiling, installation of updated electrical equipment, installing new flooring and shelving. Furniture will also be supplied courtesy of the Friends of Shelton Libraries.

Other work includes updating the staff room, including new furniture, as well as new flooring and painting in the entranceway leading into the children’s department as well as the stairway going to the main level. Geissler said the city will handle upgrading the bathrooms to make them ADA compliant.

In all, the renovations will cost some $150,000, with the costs covered by the library board of directors and the Friends of the Shelton Libraries. Stokes said the children’s department should be reopened by year’s end. In the meantime, the Plumb Memorial Library main meeting room will remain open.

“This board is really proactive,” said Stokes. “The board really wants to get things moving here, and they are putting their money where their mouth is and getting it done, and getting it done beautifully.”

“Once we started the conference room,” added Geissler, “we started to see other things that needed to be done.”

Stokes said the main meeting room will remain open, but she said the decision was made to stop children’s programs in that space “because it does not seem fair to me to have kids come in for story time but say you cannot pick out books because there is nothing there.”

Stokes said the children’s programmer, Maura Gualtiere, will hold her story times at the Shelton Library Huntington branch. In all, 40,083 items were checked out and 247 programs were held in the children’s and teen department at Plumb Memorial Library alone.

“Everyone is so delighted and excited about this work,” said Stokes when asked about parents’ response to the temporary closing. “They have seen what the main meeting room looks like, and they know this will be the same quality.”