Deerfield’s Tilton Library expansion ‘takes a village’

Satu Zoller, chair of Tilton Library’s board of trustees, and Tilton Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin welcome those gathered for the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield.

Satu Zoller, chair of Tilton Library’s board of trustees, and Tilton Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin welcome those gathered for the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Hard hats and shovels at the ready for the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield.

Hard hats and shovels at the ready for the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, speak at the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield.

Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, speak at the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

State and local officials participate in the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield.

State and local officials participate in the official groundbreaking of the Tilton Library expansion project on Friday in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-13-2024 3:41 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With tosses of dirt, dozens of residents, town officials and legislators celebrated the start of Tilton Library’s expansion Friday morning.

The ceremony was more than a decade in the making and officially kicked off the project as the town celebrated its journey to a groundbreaking. The project has involved a decade of planning, approval at both a Special Town Meeting and a special election, and then cost overruns brought on by the pandemic that required a coalition of libraries to petition the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to grant more money to projects affected by the increased costs.

“It takes a village to build a library or, in this case, to expand one,” said Satu Zoller, chair of the library’s board of trustees, jumping off a point made by Library Director Candace-Bradbury Carlin. “We could not have done it without the great citizens of this town.”

The project will nearly triple the building’s square footage from 4,366 square feet to 12,784 square feet and includes numerous improvements, such as expanding the teen and children’s rooms, meeting and co-working spaces, as well as a “nighttime suite” that will be accessible after business hours. The project was presented to voters at about $12.3 million and Northampton-based D.A. Sullivan & Sons Inc. has been tasked with the construction, after submitting a bid for $10.99 million.

Construction is estimated to take about a year to complete. In the meantime, Tilton Library has made its temporary home right next door in the South Deerfield Congregational Church at 71 North Main St. Library operations are mostly unchanged and hours will remain the same. Library patrons are asked to park in the church’s parking lot and use the ramp to enter the back of the building.

In a series of remarks, speakers thanked the townspeople for their support of the expansion, state Rep. Natalie Blais and Sen. Jo Comerford, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Selectboard for their work in seeing the project through.

Selectboard member Tim Hilchey, who also serves on the building committee, said Tilton Library’s expansion project serves as a key point of the town’s municipal campus vision, which officials say will increase the walkability and connectivity of the South Deerfield village.

“Today, we acknowledge the hard work and dedication of countless people, past and present, who brought us to this moment. … First, I’d like to thank Carolyn Shores Ness, my predecessor as Selectboard chair, whose vision of a walkable town campus is now becoming a reality,” Hilchey said before thanking Comerford, Blais, Bradbury-Carlin, his wife and the “entire family of Tilton family of volunteers.”

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“When we dip our shovels in the ground today, we’ll take part in this effort,” he said.

Blais, D-Deerfield, emphasized that “good things take time.” She pointed to Tilton Library’s website, which states “community building happens in a community building,” and said town investments in projects like this are essential to the growth of towns. She noted the Sunderland Public Library recently celebrated 20 years in its building and the effect that space has had on Deerfield’s neighbor.

“The fact of the matter is that investment changed the future of that community. It tremendously improved the offerings for community members and I have no doubt it will do the same here in Deerfield,” Blais said. “We know that libraries are the heartbeats of our community and the heartbeat of this community is beating really, really strong today.”

As construction continues on Tilton Library, its capital campaign continues, with $1.1 million of its $2 million goal raised. Library Trustee Nancy Maynard revealed the new teen room will be named in honor Joseph Savage Sr. for the family’s donation to the campaign.

“We’re currently working to solicit individuals and families and businesses to get the rest of our commitment to the town and we’re very confident that will happen soon,” Maynard said, referring to the capital campaign. “Libraries are integral to our community … and you’ve all shown that, so thank you so much.”

For more information about Tilton Library’s expansion project or its capital campaign, visit tiltonlibrary.org.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.