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Barrington Library Provides Connections for Teens and Families

Barrington Library Provides Connections for Teens and FamiliesFrancesca Ferguson is an 8th grader at Barrington Middle School who is looking forward to the new Barrington Public Library and Community Center, which she hopes will be approved by voters this coming March. The reason? The library is really crowded!

“The library staff is really nice and they do amazing with what they have, but they really need more space,” Francesca says. “One time my friends and I went to the library to work on a project after school.The Lego Club was using the children’s room, so we couldn’t work there. A Mahjong Club was using the tables. The library was so crowded that we had to go into a back corner to find a place to work. It’s such a small space,” Francesca says. “It’s hard for it to accommodate so many people.”

Francesca and her family use the library a lot. She has participated in 4-H Science programs, summer craft programs, summer reading program, babysitting classes (where she got CPR certified), a Dungeons and Dragons Club, an Escape Room program, and more.Francesca has worked as a volunteer at the library, too, helping out with 3-5-year-old storytimes.

“I love volunteering to help with story hour – it’s great to see the little kids and help them with crafts. It feels really rewarding to see their faces,” Francesca says.

With two younger siblings, Francesca has lots of experience working with young kids.Her mom, Laurie Ferguson attended lap-sit story hour with all three children.“That’s where all my friendships in this town happened,” Laurie says. “It’s a place to connect with your community and find your peeps.”

The library has also been a place for both her and her family to broaden their horizons.“Francesca found out about the Dungeons and Dragons Club and she wanted to try it.Dave [a former library staffer] took the time to teach her all she needed to know to get started. The club welcomed her in. Opportunities like that let kids learn things that they might not ever have access to otherwise.” Laurie says.

During the summer, Francesca goes to the library 2-3 times a week and during the school year, she gets there as often as she can.“Sometimes if the school doesn’t have a book that I want to read, I’ll ask my mom to get it at the town library.” If the town library doesn’t have the book, they can get it for her on InterLibrary Loan, so that she doesn’t have to buy the book to read it. And Francesca reads a lot of books!

Both mom and daughter agree that the Barrington Public Library is about more than books though. It’s really all about connecting with others.“You can connect to people who have the same interests as you,” Laurie notes.“Now Francesca knows this whole other group of kids that she would probably have never known. It has expanded her social connections – made them more diverse.”

The current Barrington Public Library, at 3,740 square feet is about 1/3 the recommended size for our town’s population.“Right now, they don’t have space for new books, which means that every time they get one they have to get rid of one,” Laurie says.With more than 560 programs and 46,000 visits per year, there is simply not enough room for the current demand.Francesca is looking forward to the library having a space for teens.”When we have group projects, we often have to get together outside of school to work on them. The library is a great place to meet because it’s a central gathering point for us and we can find (the) information we need for our projects.” But, Francesca notes, sometimes the computers are all in use and the children’s room is in use. With the new library, there will be room for everyone.

“When we lost power and didn’t have the internet, my mom could go there to get her work done. It’s a great place to get work done, to hang out and read, and to work on projects,” Francesca notes.
“It all centers around (the) community. It’s really a community space.”

More about the Proposed Barrington Public Library and Community Center

The proposed new Barrington Public Library and Community Center will be about 3 ½ times the size of the current space with 13,120 square feet. It will include a community room with space for up to 100 people in addition to a craft room, a quiet study room, and a conference room for 10-12 adults.The project is expected to serve the needs of the town for at least 50 years to come.Nearly half a million dollars in donations and pledges have been received to help cover the cost of the new building. In March of 2020, voters will be asked to approve a $4.7 million bond for 15 years to cover the projected costs of the new facility. This cost equals approximately $36 per 100,000 of assessed value for Barrington property owners.