Thursday, March 15, 2012

Which Will It Be?

At Wednesday night's regular meeting of the Hudson Area Library Board of Trustees, Theresa Parsons confirmed two things: that she was stepping down as president but would remain on the board; and that the Register-Star building was being considered as a possible location for the library, although she said, rather enigmatically, "As far we're concerned, today, we're moving to the Armory." 

The Register-Star building, acquired last month by the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, has been offered by Galvan to the library, and members of the library board took a guided tour of the building recently with Register-Star publisher and former library trustee Roger Coleman. Mark Young, one of the trustees who took the tour, reported that "we can't tell by looking at the building if it would be an appropriate space for the library," so the board has requested a schematic to show how the space in the Register-Star building might be used for a library. A similar schematic has already been created for the Armory. Young revealed that the schematics were being done by an architect named John O'Connell. A little sleuthing discovered that John O'Connell of OConnell Architecture in Arlington, MA, designed the interior space at Young's restaurant, Mexican Radio.   

Meanwhile, the library board has hired Kim Cullin, a library design consultant, to conduct focus groups in the community. The information gathered from these focus groups will used to develop a program that the architect will use to design the space. Parsons described the process as "the conversion of our vision into something an architect can use." The library has scheduled ten focus groups, and so far only twenty people have agreed to participate. For this exercise to have meaning, more people need to be involved. Registration for focus groups continues through Saturday, March 17, and can be done in person at the library, by phone (828-1792), or online. See the library's website for more information.  

As the library board sees the decision-making process, they will consider the information from the focus groups, the schematics for both buildings, and other factors such as maintenance costs and will choose the building they want to be in. This doesn't quite jibe with what Galvan executive director Tom Swope said on @Issue last week. Swope suggested the possibility that the Armory might be put to some commercial use and, when expressing the foundation's commitment to providing a "new 21st-century home for the Hudson Area Library," indicated that the location chosen would have to be one that the library board agreed to.           


  1. As disappointed as I was to see the Library abandon it's wonderful old "asylum," I would much prefer it move to a place devoted to information than one made for guns.

  2. Peter, Prison Alley and all those many other readers of Gossips who care about the library,

    Please consider registering for one of the focus groups. As I said in a recent posting here, it is the community's resource and we need to hear from you. Our consultant, Kim Cullin, will make a brief illustrated presentation about the library of the future to give some idea about what other libraries around the country are doing. Then she'll lead a discussion that will give everyone opportunities to share ideas about what we'd like to see in the new Hudson Area Library.

    Kim will integrate the inputs from the focus groups and combine with a lot of info about the Library and the communities it serves. This will become a facilities plan for the new library, describing the kinds of programs, spaces, how many books, computer terminals, and all of the other elements that we want to have in the library. This then becomes the basis for the architect to develop the plans for the building.

    We hope you'll be a part of the process. If you're unable to attend a focus group, we'll be posting a online survey where you can provide input at

    Theresa Parsons

  3. Dear Theresa, This town is much too democratic -- I was on the last focus group for the library, the one which lead to the purchase of the asylum. Do I have the correct chronology, Carole? Bitterness bites at my heels. But what the heck. I guess this is what they mean by "constant vigilance." Sign me up!


  4. Several years ago we took part in a Hudson Area Library focus group.

    The talk of our fellow patrons concerned "diversity" programs, and ways to strengthen the library as a social nexus.

    The issue we had hoped to highlight was the need for at least one quiet reading room somewhere in the library. Gone are the days of libraries offering comfortable, quiet places in which to READ!

    We were met with deer-in-the-headlight gazes.

    In the current issue of The Atlantic I see that Dallas second-graders in an underachieving school are rewarded $2 to read a book. Apparently that's the sort of thing that makes sense to people nowadays.

  5. I hope you'll give it another chance and participate in this several-years-later discussion. We now have the option, as they did not then, of designing the space. A quiet reading room? Sounds good to me.

    Theresa Parsons