Improvements underway at Glocester libraries with help of $1 million in grants

Glocester Libraries Director Gayle Wolstenholme, left, and Children's Librarian Katarina Gillis. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

GLOCESTER – Thanks to more than $1 million in grants, including $261,259 transferred from a grant for Foster libraries, Glocester libraries are preparing to make some major, much needed improvements to facilities. The grants were awarded by the Capital Projects Fund Community Learning Center and administered through the Rhode Island Pandemic Recovery Office.

The monies, explained Glocester Libraries Director Gayle Wolstenholme, are designated for certain services, which must be made available for everyone.

“This will allow us to provide health monitoring programs, employment related programs, educational programs and help people write resumes and apply for jobs online, among other services,” said Wolstenholme, who has been director since 1997.

In order to better do that, plans are underway to construct an addition at the back of Harmony Library, which will provide more room for various meetings. Those might include meetings with social workers or concerning housing, or will simply provide a safe area for residents with a variety of needs, some of which may involve custody issues or other legal problems.

“Having a place dedicated for private meetings is very important,” Wolstenholme said. “I’ve always wanted to put something off the back of Harmony Library. It’s a really nice spot back there.”

Obtaining the grant was a collaboration, she added. Town Planner Karen Scott wrote the grant with input from Wolstenholme. Foster offered their portion of a similar grant to Glocester, simply because they were unable use it at this time. The only stipulation was that Foster residents be allowed to use the Glocester Library services.

“They were unable to meet the requirements,” explained Wolstenholme. “You have to have the ball rolling before 2026.”

It couldn’t go to a school or senior center, she added, and it had to be used at a location open for everyone.

The grants were particularly timely, given the need for additional space in both libraries. Some programs, said Wolstenholme, forced the library to open fire doors because there were so many people in attendance.

“I think libraries are morphing into places where you can meet other people with similar interests,” she added.

Also on the list of improvements is a renovation of the former police station area, which was once housed in the library’s basement. Areas are being cleaned out there and prepared to provide a more private meeting area for people.

“That’s never been touched,” she explained. “That actually is a nice, little area once when we reconfigure it a little bit. We want that quiet space.”

In addition to books, tapes, DVDs and quiet reading spaces, the libraries provide computer access, notary publics, free Wi-Fi and a variety of programs for both adults and children.

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