Ever since the two non-binding referendum questions on November's ballot did not pass, people are asking "What happens now?”

Those two referendum questions provided a way to gauge town opinion regarding the future of the library, specifically asking should we build a new building and should it be located at the town-owned site of the old Rockport Elementary School.

Whichever side of the discussion you found yourself, it was wonderful to see the effort made by library lovers. Volunteers went door-to-door, held information talks, posted ads in the newspapers. The Library Committee worked long and hard to make sure the information they provided was an accurate and fair representation of what many people feel represented the best solution to an overcrowded, but well-loved institution. These discussions and the results of the non-binding resolutions support the development of a comprehensive analysis of the building by the town, the creation of a library building program, and an opportunity to look at the development of the town as a whole.

This means that the full condition of the building, the way the building is utilized, the programs that the library offers, access to the building and whether expanding the current building makes sound fiscal sense all need to be presented to the town.

The next steps have already begun. Some of the current structure needs are being addressed. Outdoor lighting is getting an overhaul and work is being done on our lovely alcove area which will repair rot around the windows. It won’t give the library more space, but it will make that space a comfortable place to read, work and relax.

In the next few months, we expect to see an independent engineering, safety and compliance study completed to determine the condition of the building. This will help answer the questions about whether an expansion or new building should or could be done. During the lead up to the town-wide vote there was one suggestion on how to best expand the current building, but without a complete professional plan, ideas remain only guesswork. What is needed now are the facts.

Stay tuned as we work together to provide the necessary information.

Libraries continue to be an important part of a vital community’s sustainability and as the needs of library patron’s change, libraries must also evolve to support those changes. With the inclusion of Rockport into the category of being a “next-century city”, this becomes an even more important role for the library.

Ann Filley is the director of the Rockport Public Library.