“We used to do nothing but lend books,” says librarian Gail Trede, “Today we are an electronic world, and this place is always busy.” Located between an affordable housing community and the center of town, the Woods Library Building is a 19th-century gem designed by Lambert Packard, complete with spiral staircases, turrets, and a 12-sided reading room with a fireplace flanked by lions. The library still lends books, but on any given day you’ll find people looking for jobs, seeking help with their taxes, getting information about bus routes, writing resumes, picking up a meal from the Everyone Eats program, coming to story hour, checking out movies, signing up for Covid shots, or taking an online class. During the pandemic, families came in to use Zoom so they could see their grandchildren.
With a Community Development Planning Grant from the state, the library board worked with Black River Design Architects to solve the puzzle of adding an accessible entrance to the ground floor, a lift to the main floor, a kitchen, and an ADA-accessible bathroom to this complicated historic structure. A PTV Preservation Grant in partnership with the Freeman Foundation supported the implementation work.
“There was a time—the dark ages of the library—when not much happened here. Hours were limited. People in town thought the library was a private club,” says board member Tony Brainerd. “Over the years we have opened a lot of people’s eyes. This project has made the building available to a lot more people now.”
“The library is about getting people where they need to go. The more people we can offer resources to, the more people we can recognize and include, the better our community will be.”
— Gail Trede, Librarian