Years in the Making: Manchester Votes for a New Library


A ballot for a new library has been voted “yes” after years of petitioning from local community members during this year’s local midterm elections.

Manchester’s current Mary Cheney Library on Main Street has served the community since the 1930s, but in the last 10 years there have been growing calls to build a new library.  Many people believe that the current library can no longer meet the needs of the community. 

Deborah Herman, a librarian at Manchester Community College and a long time advocate for a new Manchester library, spoke on what needs were not being met at the current library.

“The last time the Mary Cheney library was updated was in the early 1960s. It is not handicapped accessible, the bathroom is not accessible,” Herman explains. “If you have mobility issues or you’re wheelchair-bound or if you have a child in a stroller like that’s not going to work for you.” 

Additionally, there’s not much space in the library to house services many modern public libraries have. 

“There’s no room for amenities like group study rooms and other types of services that you see in a modern Library digital media production space.” Herman states.

Because the need for more library space has been long overdue, there have been attempts in the past to build a new library, including modifying the existing Mary Cheney building. However, there were obstacles that got in the way of those plans progressing into action.

Herman states, “ The problem with that though is that even the compromise plan encroached a little bit on the center Memorial Park which really angered the historical society and over the next 10 years a lot of work was done to try to identify alternative locations”. 

Despite this, the issue was able to be resolved by weighing out the options. 

“Many options were considered but ultimately the best option seems to keep it on Main Street but to find a different location.” Herman states.

Residents also agree with this solution. It seems that the reason the majority of people voted in favor of building a new library was that they would like to see a library with better amenities and facilities for residents to use. Joshua Robinson, an avid library user and Manchesterian, gave his thoughts.

“There’s definitely some things I’m looking forward to the library implementing when they have more space. A Makerspace would be really nice to have, definitely a larger selection of books and other assorted media would be great as well and just room to be able to organize events and things of that nature but yeah we’re definitely looking forward to a new library”.

A new library will offer opportunities for Manchester residents and students at Manchester high school to have more access to more literature technology, and makerspaces as well as library access to a wider group of people. Things that the current library struggles to provide for the community.

“The library serves everybody of all ages and cultures. It serves a public good. The library is one of the last places where you can kind of exist without the new pressure to spend money and we have a lot of socioeconomic diversity here and it supports families who are struggling and supplements the education of their children by attending programs by borrowing materials that they wouldn’t have to purchase on their own it’s it’s a public good and I think people have recognized that which is why the the current vote was overwhelmingly in favor of a new library”.