WESTON, Conn. — Weston Public Library was built in 1963 and, up until a few months ago, it looked it.
The stacks were a little too high to allow light to shine throughout the rooms. Electric outlets weren’t properly placed for the modern technology that today’s patrons use for research and entertainment.
And then there was the little matter of the asbestos.
But all that’s changed, due to an extensive renovation project more than two years in the making.
“It’s a great space,” said Karen Tatarka, library director for the past six years. “We’re really pleased with the way it turned out.”
Changes abound in the 12,000-square-foot building. For starters, the state provided $256,000 to bring the facility up to code and address some Americans With Disabilities Act issues, Tatarka said.
The town provided additional funding, and the library board approved spending $950,000, part of a generous bequest to the library by the late Franc Vitale. Vitale, a Weston resident who was a longtime library patron and avid gardener, will be remembered for years to come by the estimated 1,500 daffodils that have been planted on library grounds, Tatarka said
The library updated emergency lighting and upgraded to all new double-pane windows.
The asbestos abatement meant all new flooring and newly configure electrical outlets and ports for easier use by patrons and staff. Much of the flooring is made of cork to help with acoustics in the building, which has an unusual multi-level roof.
In answer to community requests, the library added more small group study rooms and a mini Maker area for budding entrepreneurs and innovators. A new teen area sits near the front of the space close to a modest cafe with a self-serve Starbucks machine.
An interior designer helped choose shelving that would better serve the open floor plan, making the largest room look even larger and airier.
And the doorway to the inviting outdoor patio is now usable, after being closed for about 30 years.
Construction, which was completed by Gennarini Construction of Bridgeport, took about six months and the library is still putting the final touches on some spaces. Amy Sunburn, chair of the library Board of Trustees, kept a close eye on deadlines and financial matters during the process.
“It wouldn’t have happened without her,” Tatarka said.
The library will celebrate with an official grand opening at 2 p.m. Jan. 25 and staffers will host a party later in the spring, when the daffodils are in bloom.
Tatarka said she’s already getting high praise from library patrons.
“They’re really excited about it,” she said.