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Construction on Pascoag library is under way

March 30, 2011

BURRILLVILLE — Construction work on a $252,000 addition to the town's first and oldest library began three weeks ago and is making rapid progress, according to library officials.
Work on the Pascoag Public Library addition officially began on March 14. As of today, the foundation has been poured and is being finished and walls for the 22-foot by 38-foot addition have been erected.
Nancy St. Pierre of the Pascoag Ladies Library Association said the 57 Church St. library will maintain its normal schedule during the construction, but will be providing limited services to patrons. The children’s room is closed, but patrons can order books from other libraries and pick them up at Pascoag, she said.
“They can also continue to drop books off at Pascoag to be returned to their owning libraries,” said St. Pierre, adding adult books and use of computers will continue to be available to the public.
Last year, the libary was awarded a $252,000 Champlin Foundation grant to help fund construction of the addition. The library was one of 174 tax-exempt organizations throughout the state to receive 2010 Champlin foundation grants, which totaled $17,074,565 that year.
The town has two public libraries - the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville and the Pascoag Public Library on Church Street, Pascoag, the oldest of the two libraries.
The Pascoag Public Library began in 1871 by a group of women who called themselves the Pascoag Union Sewing Society. In 1873 they renamed themselves to the Ladies Pascoag Library Association, appointed a librarian, and purchased 163 books which were housed in the librarian's local store.
The Pascoag library is only partially subsidized by the town of Burrillville for operating expenses.
All improvements to the property and equipment owned by the library have been obtained over the years through various grants received from sources such as the Champlin Foundation and the Levy Foundation.
St. Pierre noted that the addition is being fully funded by the $252,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation and that there is no impact on the taxes of the residents in town and no town funds involved in the project.
Plans for the addition to the existing 87-year-old building have been in the works for the past couple of years and was put on the fast track in 2008 when the Pascoag Ladies Library Association's request for a variance to build the addition was approved by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Review.
The library requested 17.17 feet rear setback relief for the proposed 22-foot by 38-foot addition. As part of the addition project, the staircase to the lower level, which is currently situated in the center of the 1924 building, will be moved to a rear corner of the addition.
Also, the brick facade will be continued on both sides of the addition with wood shingles to the rear.
St. Pierre told town zoners in 2008, that even though there is a new library in Harrisville, the Pascoag library receives a lot of local patrons who walk to the library, as well as children who bicycle to the library. She noted the Pascoag Library provides many programs for the community.
The Pascoag Public Library moved four times between 1883 and 1899 when Samuel Mellor offered the use of a room rent-free over his mill office on Sayles Avenue in Pascoag, where it remained until 1913 when it moved to the Steere building on Main Street in Pascoag.
At this time charges associated with the loan of books were discontinued and the library became known as the Pascoag Free Public Library.
A bequest of $500 from Miss Rosamond A. Steere was given stipulating that the money be used for a free public library building within ten years. This started the building fund which grew through numerous fundraisers and donations.
The present home of the Pascoag Public Library at 57 Church Street in Pascoag was erected in 1924. The library is still privately owned by the Ladies Pascoag Library Association and governed by the Board of Trustees which is still composed of all women.
Today, the library is open 26 hours per week and is a full service library providing the same services as larger libraries, while retaining a small town ambience.
Patrons can borrow materials from all the public libraries in the state through the Ocean State Libraries (OSL) network. It has 16,500 volumes of hardcover fiction, non-fiction, classics, children’s books, adult and children’s DVD’s, and audio books including the latest bestsellers in both fiction and non-fiction.
Residents can follow the progress of the addition project on Facebook and the Pascoag Library Website at

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