August 13, 2008
Library plans expansion to end overcrowding


GOFFSTOWN - Youth librarian Denise Schaaf is planning to launch a video game rental program next month.

The only problem: She is not quite sure where the videos will go.

“We don’t have a place to display them,” Schaaf said. “I don’t know where we’re going to display everything. We’re just going to do the best we can with the limited space we have.” The space crunch facing the teen program is the rule, not the exception, at the Goffstown Public Library.

“For a community our size, our building does not meet the needs,” said Dianne Hathaway, the library director. “Every floor, every area, is not big enough for the demand that is put on it.”

But library officials are now planning an expansion that would end the chronic overcrowding. In July, some library trustees told a capital improvement planning committee that the Goffstown Public Library is three times smaller than facilities in surrounding towns with similar populations.

The Hooksett Library is 25,000 square feet for a town of about 13,000 people. Bedford has a little more than 19,000 square feet of library space for about 21,000 people. The Goffstown library, on the other hand, serves about 18,000 people with 5,100 square feet in three floors.

“As our community grows … our library needs to grow with it,” said Susan Plante, a trustee.

Hathaway said there has been talk of an expansion since she assumed her post nine years ago, but this is the first year trustees have presented a proposal to the capital improvement planning committee.

“It’s always been there, but nothing specific as far as a plan of action,” Hathaway said. “At some point, we have to put the pedal to the metal.”

By the end of this year, trustees are expecting to receive recommendations for a long-range plan and a building program from a library consultant. Meanwhile, until the specifics from those reports are available, the capital improvement planning committee has slated the building project for 2012 at a roughly estimated cost of $2.7 million.

The options for an expansion are quite limited. It is unlikely that the town would consider moving the library somewhere else, according to Selectman Scott Gross.

“People have talked about it, but I don’t think it’s been taken seriously because the building is deeded as a library,” Gross said.

The library has two neighboring properties. One is the location of a TD Banknorth branch. The other is a vacant Victorian-style mansion on three quarters of an acre that is being advertised for sale or lease by The Masiello Group. The 12 High St. property has an assessed value of $458,500, according to town records.

In 2007, the town Planning Board approved a plan to turn the historic home into offices and build a 12-unit condominium.

Abutters challenged the approval in Hillsborough County Superior Court, which ruled in favor of the town earlier this year, according to Steve Keach, the civil engineer for the development.

Keach said the owner, Ray Donner, had considered selling the land to the town and had met with the library trustees to discuss the idea.

“I think he would have willingly sold it to them and possibly at a number that was less than its true value, but they didn’t have the ability to buy it at the time,” Keach said.

Donner could not be reached for comment in time for publication. Hathaway said the library staff was aware that the land next door was for sale. “We certainly have to think about that as well as other things,” she said. “Any kind of land abutting our property would be awesome.”

If the trustees are still interested in the next-door property, Gross said they would have to bring the matter to the attention of selectmen. A date for that meeting, however, has not been set.


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