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Library sells furnishings, sets groundbreaking

"Tag sale' generates $4,500, helps clear out building.

“They’re for our poker game,” said Dave Sarath of Lakeside Drive. Senior housing and the firehouse got some chairs, too.—Macklin Reid photo

Desks, chairs, tables, lamps, bookends, the library sold off all kinds of stuff, contents of the old Main Street location that will, for the most part, soon be torn down.

“They’re for our poker game,” said Dave Sarath of Lakeside Drive, wheeling out a stack of chairs a friend had asked him to collect with his truck.

The chairs, from the library’s program room, may now be seen in the firehouse, and the Housing Authority also bought a large number of them.

The chairs were going for $10 each.

The library made out nicely with its tag sale, which took place Friday, Sept. 7, and Saturday, Sept. 8.

“Looks like it is just over $4,500. Pretty darn good,” Library Director Chris Nolan said of the take.

The library will launch its $20-million reconstruction project with a ceremonial ground-breaking on Monday, Oct. 1, at 9 a.m.

In the meantime, the library is operating out of its new temporary location in the former Balducci’s market space off Governor Street, across from Veterans Park School.

The library is now open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 to 5, and Sunday 1 to 5.

The 9 a.m. opening has proven popular, according to Ms. Nolan.

“That’s an hour earlier. We got a lot of requests to open earlier in the day, so this accommodates that,” she said. “We have had that request for a long time, and this seemed to be a good time to institute it.”

Ms. Nolan reports that library users are enthusiastic about the new temporary space.

“It’s amazing — people love it,” Ms. Nolan said.

“It’s a lot of natural light. It’s much nicer light than what we had in the other building. Even the light from the ceiling is much better to look at the books.

“It’s also laid out in a way that is more intuitive,” she said.

“It’s very attractive. And whatever people like about the new space it’s going to be more so in the new library,” she said.

Assistant Library Director Mary Rindfleisch agreed.

“The public generally loves the open, airy ambiance,” she said. “I tell them to hold that thought and then imagine that same feeling in a space large enough to actually accommodate our full collections and services – i.e. the new Ridgefield Library we have designed.”

The reduced size is the major limitation of the temporary space.

“We don’t have all of our collection here. We probably have about 40%, or a little less than half, of all of our books,”  Ms. Nolan said. “You can still get them. You may not be able to pick them up on the spot… It’ll take a couple of days.

“If you ask us to get a book for you, we can easily get a book for you from another library,” she said. “…We can get it for you in a couple of days.

“The other thing people aren’t sometimes aware of is in Connecticut, as long as you have an up-to-date library card in your hometown, you may check books out of any library, and you can return them to any library.”

The privilege is good all around the state.

“If you happened to be shopping in Darien and you took a book out there, you can return it here,” Ms. Nolan said.

Ms. Nolan said she wouldn’t have a real sense of how many people were coming to the new temporary library until early October.

“The first day was 4,500,” she said. “I think it’s unusual it should be that high.”

At the old location, people would often check out 30,000 to 40,000 items a month, she said.

“I think what’s going to be interesting is to see what happens to that number in this location. We do those statistics once a month,” she said.

The new location means a reduction in the work force from about 44 to 38 workers.

“We had to trim,” Ms. Nolan said. “We had to trim some number in order to accommodate budget things — that’s temporarily while we’re in this much smaller space.”

The staff isn’t parking in the lots right around the building, she said.

“None of the staff park there,” she said. “We have devised a system. A number of us are walking. We’ve done all kinds of things to help take the strain off of that. We don’t park in those two-hour slots or three-hour slots.”

The staff, like library users, is enjoying the new space.

“They love it. We all love it, it’s so much fun,” Ms. Nolan said. “It’s good air movement. We had enormous temperature variation in that old building, like 15 degrees from one office to another.”

The new space has only two restrooms, Ms. Nolan said, but that hasn’t been a problem.

“People are dealing with these things very nicely,” she said, “and they’re thrilled.”

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