Library expansion coming in 2020

GPL clerks Logan Roberts (left), home on break from Yale University, and Ryan Black (right), as they try out the first of the new tables that will populate the new library space.
GPL clerks Logan Roberts (left), home on break from Yale University, and Ryan Black (right), as they try out the first of the new tables that will populate the new library space.
Photo by Linda Competillo

One of Groton’s most popular venues for young and old alike is the Groton Public Library, largely due to its amazing director, Sara Knobel, its dedicated staff, the incredible support of the Friends of the Groton Public Library (FOGPL) and the daily involvement and patronage of the community members it serves.

For a small library located in a small town, the GPL offers so much more than books to read and a comfortable place to read them or borrow them. On any given day, there can be a host of things happening there such as children’s, youth, teen and adult programs, author visits, nutritional and meal planning sessions, free community meals and food giveaways, movie and game nights, book clubs and more.

As all these offerings have grown through the years, sometimes to point where some children had to be turned away due to lack of room, in 2016, it became clear to Knobel and the GPL Board of Trustees that some sort of expansion of the space was desperately needed.

From its first public meeting in January 2017 to the present, plans to expand the Groton Public Library have been in full swing, with twists and turns along the way, but Knobel reports that construction is finally expected to begin in March 2020.

The library’s Board of Trustees committed to a 2,000-square-foot expansion of the library facilities to connect immediately behind the existing building in 2018. Groton’s own Lee Shurtleff, retired director and fire coordinator of the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response, and his family generously donated the land needed for the project.

At that point, the preliminary estimate for the physical expansion was $975,000. Sen. James Seward and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton had each nominated GPL for a State Assistance to Municipalities (SAM) grant for $350,000, totaling $700,000, and the GPL Board committed $125,000 from its reserve funds to support the project.

Fortunately, in 2012, a small group of community members formed the FOGPL with a goal to raise awareness of the needs the GPL had even back then. This group has kept busy through the years planning and funding a variety of programs, including restoration of the original library charter and other historical documents and photos, beautification of the gardens surrounding the library, setting up “Little Free Libraries” on Main Street and at the elementary school, summer programs for children, an annual book sale and numerous opportunities for free book giveaways.

Even more fortunate for the GPL, the FOGPL also responded to the library’s need to expand in 2018 by launching the Campaign to Grow the Groton Public Library, under the leadership of Groton resident and president emeritus of Tompkins Cortland Community College Carl Haynes, as chair of the campaign committee, raising its $150,000 goal to meet the shortfall and then some.

With all of that accomplished, the expansion plans were well underway last December under the direction of the GPL Board of Trustees, its architect, Julia Hafftka-Marshall, and site-work engineer, Ed Keplinger.

This past June, Hafftka-Marshall reported that the projected costs for the expansion exceeded the budget by $285,000. After extensive discussions with Knobel and the GPL Board, she revised her projections, bringing the estimated cost for the expansion under budget, providing the library a cushion to bring it through the bidding process.

“While the need to delay was disappointing, the overall project is moving along steadily and will ultimately lead to a successful expansion of our library that serves so many in our Groton community,” Knobel said.

At this point, the reality of the expansion is in sight. Hafftka-Marshall and Jim Turner, project manager, will be at the GPL at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 16 to conduct a walk-through for all interested bidders for the construction phase of the project. Bidding will officially open at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, with review and awarding of the contract to follow on Feb. 13.

While the fundraising “campaign” has officially ended, the needs for our library have not. Whether to support the possible extra costs of the expansion or to provide help with the broad range of programs and services offered by the GPL, charitable giving is extremely important.

Those wishing to contribute may do so by sending a check payable to Friends of the GPL, 112 E. Cortland St., Groton, NY 13073, through PayPal at, or by calling the library at (607) 898-5055 to make other arrangements.

Another way to support the GPL is to become a member of the FOGPL. Joining is easy and open to everyone at the financial level that best fits for you as an individual or a family. Children under 12 may join for $2 a year, and the contribution for a 13- to 17-year-old is $5. Individuals can become members for $15, or an entire family may join for $25.

There are higher levels of membership for those who are interested. For more information about membership or anything you might like to know about the FOGPL, send an email to or contact any member of its executive board: Pat Gaines, Chris Griffin, Sue Haynes, Mary Roberts, Kim Slocum or Linda Willis.

Meanwhile, great things continue to happen at the GPL. “Winter Break at the Library” for all kids with free pizza and “Fun and Activities with Aaron, Aiden, and Braedy” is happening from 12 to 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2 and Friday, Jan. 3.
Visit, find them on, on Twitter or Instagram: @grotonNYlibrary or just stop in anytime.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.

In brief:

Youth basketball program

Groton Recreation will sponsor a K-2 Youth Basketball Program for boys and girls on Saturdays from Jan. 11 through Feb. 15 in the Groton Elementary School gymnasium 9:00 to 11:15 a.m.

Kindergarten students will play from 9 to 9:45 a.m., first grade from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m. and second grade from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Cost is $15 per child.
Sessions are designed to introduce the game of basketball to young players. Each session will be based on basic skills and fun drills/games. This is not a competitive play program; it is meant to be fun and teach skills.

Register by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 at Once you arrive at this page, be sure to click on the “Available Programs” link.

Ridge Runners spaghetti supper

The Ridge Runners of Groton Snowmobile Club will hold a spaghetti supper from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at its clubhouse, 748 Salt Rd., one mile north of Route 90. Meals include all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs, salad bar, dessert bar and beverage. Cost is $9 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and $6 for children age 5-12. Children age 4 and under may eat for free. This is a perfect way to enjoy a unique dining experience in a rustic country setting. Take-out dinners are also available.

Cabin Fever Festival

The date is set for the annual Groton Cabin Fever Festival. Family fun is a guarantee in the Groton High School gym, 400 Peru Rd., Saturday, Feb. 29 from noon to 4 p.m. Activities will include a bounce house, obstacle course, music, vendors, food, performers, face painting and more.

The festival will be followed by a roller-skating party from 6 to 8:00 p.m., also held in the high school gym. Admission fee is $5 per person for skating.
There is still space for vendors. Contact Jennifer Jones at (607) 898-3966 or


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