Lynn Piotrowicz wrote the book on revamping Henniker library

Union Leader Correspondent
June 12. 2013 8:51PM
Though built more than 100 years ago, the Tucker Free Library in Henniker barely shows its age following a series of renovations. (Nancy Bean Foster Photo)

HENNIKER -- A little bit of money and a lot of creative thinking on the part of library director Lynn Piotrowicz have helped modernize the Tucker Free Library without compromising its historic charm.

To help other librarians do the same, Piotrowicz has co-authored a book on maintaining old buildings with limited resources.

The interior of the 105-year-old Tucker Free Library has undergone a substantial facelift, and old spaces have been given new life thanks to a trust fund established with money left by Ann S. Soderstrom, a longtime patron of the library.

According to Patti Osgood, chair of the Tucker Free Library board of trustees, the $50,000 withdrawn from the trust was put to excellent use by Piotrowicz, who designed and managed the renovation project.

From floor to ceiling the building received a major sprucing up, with floors refinished, fresh paint on the walls, new carpeting, and careful cleaning of the mosaic tiles and woodwork that have been part of the library since it was built.

The museum room, once a space rarely used, has been transformed into the Ann S. Soderstrom Media Center and Reading Area, complete with computer workstations, comfortable chairs, and book shelves that look original but are actually brand new. To save money, Piotrowicz said she enlisted the help of the New Hampshire State Prison's GraniteCor program which puts prisoners to work building custom furniture, among other things.

"I priced out commercial furniture and it cost $7,000 more and the quality just wasn't there," said Piotrowicz. "They were able to make everything match the original woodwork, including the tables, chairs and benches."

Piotrowicz said she approached the renovation project with the idea of creating more space for the library's patrons to read, research and relax while improving the library's atmosphere and energy efficiency. New blinds will control the amount of sun that gets in depending on the season, insulation to the attic was increased, and a new server was installed for the computers that cut the cost of running them by two-thirds, Piotrowicz said.

And though there are updated spaces throughout the library, including the childrens' and teens' areas in the basement, Piotrowicz was able to fill and organize the rooms by cutting and reusing shelving from upstairs.

"We wanted to reuse, repurpose and recycle as much as we could," she said.

To help other library directors achieve the same kind of efficiency and aesthetic improvements as she's been able to create, Piotrowicz and co-author Scott Osgood have written a book called "Building Science 101: A Primer for Librarians."

"Library school teaches you about building collections of books, but it doesn't teach you anything about maintaining the buildings," said Piotrowicz. "So we wrote a book that offers practical little hints for maintaining libraries and other old buildings."

With nearly two decades under her belt as a librarian and Osgood's expertise as a civil engineer, the book has been well-received in library circles, she said.

"We've sold around a thousand copies," said Piotrowicz.

To celebrate the completion of the renovations and to dedicate the Ann S. Soderstrom Media Center and Reading Room, the library will host a ceremony Wednesday, June 26, at 6:30 pm.

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