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Lyme - About a century after the town's library first opened its doors, a new, multi-use library building will welcome residents this fall.
The 6,800-square-foot Lyme Public Library, outfitted with upgraded technology and storage space, will feature rooms for meetings, local archives, children's programs - and, of course, books.
On Saturday, members of the Friends of the Lyme Public Library gathered for a "preview" of the facility, which is slated to open this fall after years of planning. The town is also renovating Town Hall as part of a $5 million project to create a new town campus center off Hamburg Road.
"It's been amazing to see the transformation that has taken place here," said Adrienne Brennan, president of the Friends group, to the about 20 attendees on Saturday's tour.
Janis Witkins, a member of the Lyme Town Campus Center Building Committee, led Friends members through the library, an open and airy space with white walls, high ceilings and many windows.
The multi-use building was created to be a flexible space with an open layout, allowing the library to adapt the space to future needs, said Witkins.
The building committee researched trends when designing the library - which took place around the time of the rise of e-books - and chose a design that features stacks and shelves for both the library's 16,000 books and iPads and e-readers, and Wi-Fi throughout the town campus center, explained Witkins.
Among the rooms in the library are a community programming room that will seat 70 and a large conference room with a pull-down screen. A reading room will offer sofas, chairs, a table - and a gas fireplace.
"You can settle in a soft chair and read a nice book in front of the gas fireplace," said Witkins.
The new library will hold the Lyme Local Archives from the Public Hall, currently housed down the road, to make them more accessible to residents.
A glass wall separates the main library from the children's room: a spacious, window-filled room which will hold stacks with the library's 7,700 children's books, three computers for children, a Nintendo Wii for games, a reading area where children can pull up plastic stools during story hour and a television set for a DVD screening or to show the pictures from a storybook on the screen.
The town established the library in 1913 and it officially opened its doors on Feb. 3, 1914, in the Lyme Congregational Church. It moved into its location on Hamburg Road in 1971 and was expanded in 1981.
The town broke ground on the renovation project last year, following residents' approval at a 2012 referendum.
After the tour, members of the Friends group thanked Witkins for her work.
As a gift to the new library, the Friends will donate a bench made of local walnut wood, crafted by Seana Bill Custom Woodworking, for the library's foyer.
The library is slated to open in some capacity on Sept. 30, with a grand opening later this fall, said Witkins.