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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Hanover library opens new wings, art gallery

Former astronaut and Hanover resident Jay Buckey cut the ribbon to open the expanded Howe Library Sunday afternoon, inaugurating new children's and teens' wings, an art gallery and a periodical room at the Hanover public library.

Over 1,400 people the Hanover area attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was followed by a reception at the library.

Almost 10 years of planning culminated with the Sunday celebration, Marlene McGonigle, director of the Howe Library, said.

The library raised $5.5 million through a capital campaign to fund the new addition. About $3.75 million was raised through private donations from over 1,800 families in the community.

"The community did it," McGonigle said. "They made this building. Period."

McGonigle said the library has many strong connections to the Dartmouth campus, including a volunteer program, Book Buddies, through which Dartmouth students read with Hanover children.

"Some of our best staff are Dartmouth students. We love them, and once we get them, we really try to keep them for four years," McGonigle said. "We feel very connected to the Dartmouth community."

At the Saturday event, Dartmouth athletes ran a raffle at the reception, offering ticket packages to Dartmouth men's and women's hockey and basketball games as prizes.

The largest additions to the library were the new children's and teens' sections, which include computers, wireless internet access and a game and story room. Kids flocked to "Phoebe's Nest," a play area named after Phoebe Stebbins, the former owner of the Dartmouth Bookstore who maintained a special children's section on the store's top floor.

Many families in Hanover and the surrounding area consider the library a vital resource.

"Since we moved to Hanover about a year ago, the library has been a very important part of our lives," Hanover resident Veronica Ingham said. "It is incredibly child-friendly."

In addition to the children's and teens' sections, the library also added an art gallery and a periodical room.

The Ledyard Art Gallery runs the length of the second floor and exhibits work from various artists in the surrounding area. The new periodical room, located on the first floor, now holds all of the libraries' electronic and print media.

Reaction to these new additions was overwhelmingly positive.

"I think it's fantastic," Ingham said. "The library has always had the spirit but now it also comes with a great facility."

Kathleen Chaimbert, who was at the library with her daughter, echoed Inghman's sentiment.

"The new addition is unbelievably nice, but the best thing is still the people that work here."

The original library building opened on Dec. 8, 1975 and had remained unchanged until this addition. According to McGonigle, the library has been in desperate need of space since the early 1990s.

McGonigle was conservative with regard to future plans for construction at the library.

"This building should last for at least 20 years, and the library may never have to change due to technology. I hope this addition will serve many more generations," she said.