Tiverton, which faces the twin threat of a mega-retail/residential development and a new casino amid its charms, may rejoice that it has a beautiful new public library under its belt. When the design was shown to me several years ago I said to myself, “Not gonna happen!”
But there it is in all its glory. The Providence Journal, in Christine Dunn’s story “A new chapter begins for town’s public library,” reports that 500 new library cards have been issued since its opening in June. Also, it came in $500,000 below its $11 million budget. At 23,886 square feet, the new library dwarfs its cute predecessor, the Essex Library.
The photo above shows a library that breathes in the traditionally bucolic character of the town. Tiverton is among the loveliest names for a place, and its architecture should reflect the quiet beauty that is its brand.
Designed by Union Studios, in Providence, with Douglas Kallfelz as lead architect, the library’s arched and gabled entry portico features a tower with decorative arches etched into its sides that reflect those of the portico. At the other end, special spaces inside the library are highlighted with gabled bays connected by a terrace behind its own three arches. The design’s simplicity belies the size and complexity of the interior, which has about six times the room as the Essex, which remains.
They say architecture is the great unsung happiness of life. Well, these days that is debatable, but when when a work of design manages to express the pleasure of reading while accommodating the heavier burden that libraries take upon themselves in the modern era, well, it’s no wonder that the market for library cards is in growth mode!
Let us hope Tiverton can thwart the twin evils headed its way – but if the town is not thrice lucky, its leaders should propose that the twin evils (the “mall” and the casino) are made to parade in the falseface of beauty.
(Here is the deep skinny on the new library, “The Story of Tiverton’s Quarter-Century Crusade to Build a New Public Library,” by Gina Macris for the Rhode Island Library Report.)