Rockport needs a new library. This is obvious to anyone who uses the current one, as I do. There are virtually no quiet places to read or study; there are only two public-access computer stations; there is no dedicated meeting room; a single restroom; periodicals and book collections are seriously constrained by lack of space; and the area for teens appears to be about 42-square-feet (no joke). Aside from two handicap spaces, there is no on-site parking.

Several studies have confirmed that there is no practical way to expand the facility in its current location. It has been suggested that the park next to the library might be used for parking. Because this park contains a war memorial, that option is neither practical nor desirable.

Despite the best efforts of a talented and dedicated staff, the current facility does not support the current demand for services, much less any reasonable projected demand. Since the library's last addition, about 20 years ago, circulation has increased 79 percent, and attendance has increased 119 percent.

The role of libraries is expanding nationwide and locally, and even those who oppose the idea of a new location must, I think, acknowledge the valuable, multifunctional role that the Rockport library plays. This may explain their desire to keep this resource close to themselves, in Rockport Village. But the town of Rockport is more than just the Village, and a resource of this importance should be reasonably and fairly accessible to all of the town's citizens, not just the ones who currently enjoy the privilege of living within walking distance.

A critic of the proposed new library at the site of the former Rockport Elementary School East has claimed that it would be some 40 percent larger than Camden's or Rockland's. This is untrue. The proposed 14,000-square-foot structure would be on par with Camden's 13,500- to 13,900-square-feet, and 24 percent smaller than Rockland's 18,500-square-feet. The town should take advantage of the fact that the proposed site is easily buildable to economically create a facility large enough to satisfy a wide variety of projected uses now and for many years to come.

The site, at the intersection of routes 1 and 90, is easily accessible to all the people of Rockport, and it benefits from proximity to adjacent sports fields. A signature library building in this highly visible location would do a great deal to make Rockport noticed by visitors, and it would serve as a community center. What better center for a community, what better signature for Rockport, than a center of learning of which we can all be proud? The location is superb and we shouldn't let the chance slip by.

It's easy to oppose change – especially for those who benefit from the status quo. But opponents should consider the needs of the town as a whole. Rockport has a future, and no matter how "cozy" the old library may be, children and adults will need and deserve not quaintness but up-to-date information resources and a useful community center.

The library planning process is still in its early stages, and there will be plenty of time to argue against it, when and if it ever gets to the stage of having to vote a bond issue. Even if you oppose the new library, please don't oppose the planning process. Rather, encourage it, so that the library that we ultimately vote up or down is the best possible option for Rockport.

Bob Holtzman lives in Rockport.