West Tisbury Library forum to review planned design for expansion

— Photo courtesy of Dan Waters

The West Tisbury Library’s expansion and renovation project will come before the town for final approval in April, both at the annual town meeting and on the election ballot. The library, which has held forums and focus groups almost monthly for the past two years, invites residents and voters to an in-depth presentation on Monday, March 26, at 5:30 pm, at the Howes House, across State Road from Alley’s Store. The forum will feature the design team, the building committee, trustees, and community fundraising groups.

In April, the town will be asked to appropriate up to $1.5 million, or approximately 25 percent of the total expansion and renovation project cost of $6,055,308. The remainder of the funding comes from a state grant ($2.98 million) and private donations ($1.57 million), all already in place.

The proposed design would expand the current library’s 5,640 square feet to about 13,000. The bulk of the expansion consists of features that are lacking in the old building, which opened in 1993: a study room for young adults; a room for programs, lectures and films; a director’s office; staff work space; and meeting space and restrooms. The design attempts to foresee the needs in the next 20 years and includes unfinished space for future expansion.

Central sections at the heart of the current library remain, although they will be renovated to meet current codes and energy standards. The exposed beams, skylights and cozy feel of the “old library” will be carried throughout the new construction. The library planners believe that with its intersecting gables and cupola, the design retains the rural character of West Tisbury barns, such as at Arrowhead Farm, the Agricultural Hall, and Misty Meadows, that were the library’s original inspiration.

Most of the addition occurs behind the building. From State Road, the library’s profile will look much as it has for the past 20 years. One important change restores the front entrance to the center of the building, as it was in architect Ben Moore’s original plan from 1988. The proposed expansion also creates two new outdoor terraces, north and south, that will take full advantage of the lot’s contours and expansive views across the Maley Field Gallery property.

Renovation work will employ “green construction” techniquest, uniting the old structure with the new, enclosing both in a super-insulated envelope to improve heating and cooling. Triple-glazed windows, a photovoltaic array, a heat pump system, water-conserving fixtures and rigorous construction waste management are expected to make the West Tisbury Free Public Library the town’s first LEED-certified municipal building. Certification by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) will also qualify the project for a $100,000 state energy grant.