At its Board Meeting at the Northborough Free Library on Thursday, July 14, 2011, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) voted to place Woburn Public Library on a waiting list for a provisional library construction grant. The grant is part of the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) which helps libraries across the state meet the growing demand for library services with expanded and improved library facilities. Over the past ten years, in-person visits to Massachusetts public libraries have increased by 50% with over 34 million visits to libraries and 64.5 million items borrowed in 2010 year alone.
Twenty-eight libraries completed the grant round process. Through a rigorous review process, eight projects have been awarded provisional grants and fifteen projects have been placed on a waiting list. Wait-listed libraries will receive their grants as funds become available through the state’s five–year capital plan or if a grant recipient is unable to move forward with a project.
“Our residents support the library and are using it more than ever. Obviously we would have preferred to be one of the eight recipients, but it was a highly competitive grant round. We’re proud to have completed the process and we’ll be ready when the funding becomes available for our library, “said Library Director Kathleen O’Doherty.
Woburn Public Library opened in 1879 for a community of 13,000. The National Historic Landmark, H.H. Richardson designed structure, is a revered piece of local history. However, since the early twentieth century, the services of the Library have been constrained by its small size and its historic significance. Woburn’s population is now over 38,000 and the Trustees believe that for the Library to fully serve the community, the facility must expand.
The near tripling of the city’s population and dramatic increases in multiple categories of library usage require an addition to the existing facility as well as a renovation of the original building. The new design is balanced, very functional, easily staffed and supervised, and is most harmonious and protective of the landmark historic building. The library building program needs are met in the plan by a considered re-use of the existing building and the flexibility of the design of the addition. The collaboration works to satisfy the program and the desires of the residents to preserve the original building.
Libraries in the following communities have also been placed on the waiting list (listed according to rank: Athol, Reading, Belmont, Edgartown, Salisbury, Framingham (McAuliffe Branch), Scituate, Shrewsbury, Acushnet, Webster, Sandwich, Eastham, Hopkinton, and Boston (East Boston Branch).
The last time that wait-listed libraries were awarded provisional construction grants was in 2008, after the Governor and the Legislature authorized funding to the MPLCP as part of the General Governmental Needs Bond Bill. It is this same funding that supports the current grant round.
MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. From July 1989 through June, 2011, 204 construction grants totaling $320.3 million have been awarded to assist cities and towns in construction or renovation and expansion of their public libraries. In addition, 91 planning and design grants totaling over $1.8 million have been awarded to support public libraries as they prepare to apply for a construction grant. For more information about the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program please visit: http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/construction/index.php