Pomfret Library Kicks Off Fundraiser for Expansion Project

The Pomfret Public Library received a grant from the Connecticut State Library Board to pay for half of the expansion project.

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The Pomfret Public Library is one step closer to an expansion. The library's building committee launched the "Building for Community" capital campaign Thursday night to achieve full funding for a planned expansion project.

"It is a very exciting thing for a small town," said Maureen Nicholson, first selectman of Pomfret.

The library was built in 1911 and has been in the same building ever since. Library Director Laurie Bell describes the space as a "community hub."

"The library really is for absolutely everybody and absolutely all ages," said Bell. "We have a lot of programming going on here that is inter-generational and really draws from a lot of different social circles here in town."

From storytime to history lessons to crafts, the library hosts a variety of events, but they do not always have room to fit everyone. The space is 2,000-square feet, making it more difficult to accommodate events and book searchers at the same time.

"Tables in front of bookshelves and all that," said Bell, explaining that her staff has learned to be flexible.

In 2018, the Connecticut State Library Board awarded the Pomfret Public Library a $421,800 grant to fund half of an $800,000 expansion project. The remainder of the funding will have to come from community fundraising.

The building committee officially launched their capital campaign Thursday night at local restaurant Grill 37. The restaurant donated the space and the food. More than 100 people were expected to attend.

"The more we can give back to our community, the stronger our community gets," said Ian Farquhar, head chef at Grill 37.

The library has to raise $500,000 by November of 2021. Construction would begin shortly after they receive full funding.

The expansion is set to double the size of the library, adding an L-shaped wing with four rooms. Bell said that the rooms are designed to accommodate more community events including a lounge area, small conference room, an activity room and a larger room for lectures and workshops.

"A lot of people say 'oh, well why do you need libraries?' Well, it's more than books," said Nicholson. "It is books, but it is a lot more than books."

"It is the one place in town that more people attend in the course of the year with the exception of the public school," added Town Historian Walter Hinchman.

Bell said that if the team secures funding before November of 2021, they will start construction early.

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