NORWALK, CT — Mayor Harry Rilling, city leaders and the Norwalk Library Board officially unveiled several renovations to the first floor of the South Norwalk Library during a ceremony held late Friday morning.

Norwalk Library Director Sherelle Harris kicked the event off by thanking Rilling and members of both the library board and the city’s Common Council for their support of the project.

“Everybody worked really hard to make sure that this library was renovated,” Harris said.

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Renovations include enhanced lighting for reading and new furniture in sunlit areas to enhance natural lighting, as well as spaced out seating in the library’s computer area to promote privacy and enhance health and safety.

According to Harris, the last time the SoNo library, located at 10 Washington Street, received a renovation was between 2004 and 2006.

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The new upgrades, made possible through funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, are part of the city’s commitment to enhancing residents’ quality of life.

They were also a result of feedback the city received from its 2019 community focus groups on ways to make Norwalk’s community libraries more accessible, user-friendly and comfortable, according to additional press materials provided by the city.

Rilling praised Harris for running the city’s library system with passion, then stressed the important role libraries play in communities like Norwalk.

“Libraries are the heart of any city,” Rilling said. “Libraries provide safe places for young people and older people alike. Libraries provide education, experience, just a wonderful place to go to learn, to study, do whatever you want to do in a library, and it’s just an amazing place.”

Rilling also thanked Congressman Jim Himes and senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy for their role in providing ARPA funds to the city of Norwalk.

“This doesn’t happen by accident,” Rilling said. “It happens with a lot of people working together…all people working together to make this city the best place that they can possibly make it, and I think we’d all agree that Norwalk is an absolutely wonderful place being recognized not only statewide, but regionally and throughout the country. People are talking about what’s happening in Norwalk, and rightfully so.”

Moina Noor, chair of the library board, praised the renovation work for honoring the history of the building, originally built in 1913, while tastefully updating it with modern touches.

“It lets in more light,” Noor said, “it has many more private workspaces and has comfortable furniture and new carpet and beautiful lighting.”

Noor said it was important for libraries to be “inviting, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing” spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy.

“The SoNo library has for a very long time been the heart of South Norwalk, in addition to being a valuable resource for the entire city,” Noor said. “Here adults, children and elderly engage with knowledge, information [and] art through books, films, news, technology or they just come here to cool down on a hot day like today.”

She also noted libraries are “one of the only public indoor spaces where you can sit as long as you want without buying” or being expected to purchase anything.

“This renovation was a true partnership…it was a ton of work to get to where we are today,” Noor said, “and a beautiful building is really only as good as the caring, knowledgeable and helpful people inside of it.”

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