Leadership changes as Falmouth library eyes future

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FALMOUTH — Falmouth Memorial Library is regrouping and getting new leadership after the failure of a June referendum that would have moved the library to the former Lunt School building on Lunt Road.

The library’s executive director, Lynda Sudlow, announced Monday night at the library’s annual meeting that she will retire in December.

“I’ve overseen a lot of changes,” Sudlow said.

She started her tenure at the library in 1995, just as it grew from a cramped, old building into a more modern one, thanks to an on-site expansion, she said. Since then, the library has continued to expand its collection and services.

“It’s been quite a transformation over the last 16 years. I had hoped to be there for the next transition, but I’ll have to turn that over to the next person,” Sudlow said.

Additionally, library President Chantal Walker reached the end of her term and stepped down Monday night. She will be replaced by Julie Rabinowitz, who served as vice president and the spokeswoman for the library board of trustees during the referendum process.

Rabinowitz said the board would immediately open up a search to replace Sudlow, and that trustees hope to fill the position in January or February 2012.

“We’re in a good position, time-wise, to bring on a new director,” Rabinowitz said.

She said the board hopes the new director will help lead the library into the 21st century and through its next stages, whether that’s a move to another building, or changes at it’s current building.

Because the town owns half of the library building, and the library does not have the resources to move to another building on its own, Rabinowitz said the board will continue the conversation with the Town Council and with the community about where the library will be in the future.

“In the next eight to nine months, we’ll be figuring out what the plan is,” she said.

During Monday’s meeting, librarian Jeanne Madden outlined plans to rearrange the existing building to better meet some library patrons’ needs.

She proposed reconfiguring the circulation check-out desk so it does not take up as much space, and creating a reference librarian station/information desk where the public computers are currently situated.

Madden also showed plans for an expanded teen area with group-working spaces, outlets to plug in laptop computers, and new furniture that is more “teen-friendly.”

Madden, Sudlow and Assistant Director Andi Jackson-Darling discussed a recent trip to Cambridge, Mass., where they met with library designers, architects and other librarians at an annual seminar hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sudlow said the Falmouth librarians were invited by Nolan Lushington, the library consultant the trustees hired last year to review the library’s space needs prior to the referendum.

The trio toured three libraries; two were renovated historic buildings and one was new.

“These are all larger than the Falmouth library,” Sudlow said. “We were looking for concepts, not size.”

The librarians showed photographs of the three libraries on their tour, the Cambridge, Crane and Matapan public libraries, as well as several libraries they did not see in person.

Jackson emphasized the modern and inviting spaces many of the libraries had, including simple things such as color and diner-style booths for group work, that would create a more welcoming space for patrons.

Sudlow said modern libraries need to be a “third place where people can go and feel comfortable.”

Currently, the Plummer-Motz and Lunt school buildings, which were both considered possible sites for the library, are available for sale or lease proposals for redevelopment. OceanView Retirement Community has expressed interest in the properties and has indicated it will submit at least one bid for the properties.

It is still unclear whether the town’s library will be included in any future redevelopment of the sites, and the Town Council has not decided whether it will review the bids, due Nov. 29, in a private executive session or in public.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

Sidebar Elements

Falmouth Memorial Library Executive Director Lynda Sudlow announced Monday she will retire after 16 years running the town’s library.