Feb. 6 the Pomfret Public Library officially kicked off its Capital Campaign aimed at raising $500,000 to essentially double the space of the current library that has been in existence since 1739.  The addition to the building, which is the first major renovation in more than 40 years, includes conference areas, activity rooms for children and adults, space for the historical society archives, technology upgrades and other improvements to the current space.
The campaign team, led by Chairperson Atty. Kate Cerrone and Vice Chairpersons Marc and Mary Archambault, working in concert with community volunteers, was steadily moving toward its goal when it suddenly and surprisingly encountered the COVID-19 coronavirus.  Since that time, approximately the first week of March, the campaign has been forced to slow its progress but it hasn’t deterred those working diligently to see the campaign to its successful conclusion.
“Following the enthusiastic reception the project received at our kickoff, our team was making great progress toward achieving our goal.  We were looking forward to the day when we would announce our success, which would allow the community to move forward with the construction,” said Cerrone.  “We look forward to the day when we can gather again, and we want our library to be better than ever for that time.”
The library expansion project received its initial impetus through a grant of $421,800 from a Connecticut State Library Construction Grant. As part of the preparation for the expansion, the Town of Pomfret did an exploratory survey of its citizens that demonstrated the community agreed with the need for the expansion.  The $500,000 campaign goal is the community’s matching portion of the grant.
Pomfret Public Library has 1800 cardholders, which equates to approximately 10,000 visitors annually.  Its annual circulation is nearly 16,500 items.  In 2019 the library presented a variety of 186 programs that were attended by more than 2,100 people.  Attendance at many of the programs was often hindered due to the current space limitations of the building.  The library’s current collection includes more than 20,000 books and DVDs, with thousands more available on line, according to librarian Laurie Bell.
“We are very proud of the Pomfret Public Library and the work of our librarian Laurie Bell and the library staff.  The library is opened 32 hours per week and they work hard to plan and run the library sponsored programs and assist our patrons with whatever they need,” said Library Board Chairperson Ginger Lusa.  “Our board is enthusiastically behind this project and we are excited to see the progress that has been made so far.”
Despite the fund-raising slowdown caused by the coronavirus quarantine, the campaign team is prepared to resume activity as soon as the “shelter in place” edict is lifted.  Even during the quarantine period, the committee continues to receive inquiries regarding methods of support for the project.
“Our committee has maintained contact with our campaign consultant throughout this slowdown.  We receive and disseminate updates on a weekly basis.  It’s amazing, we actually received a substantial pledge recently and have received calls and e-mails from Pomfret residents who are in Florida and are looking forward to returning home.  I believe this bodes well for the outcome we’re working toward,” said Marc Archambault.


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