Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Leominster library opens
Jonathan Graham, Sentinel & Enterprise, June 11, 2007
LEOMINSTER -- Children chanted "Cut it, cut it," as
Library Director Susan Shelton officially snipped the blue
ceremonial ribbon outside the city's renovated library
Sunday afternoon.Hundreds of residents rushed in after
officials opened the door, marking the completion of the
nearly two-year, $12 million project.
Officials and residents both said they viewed the new
library as a symbol for the success of the city and its
willingness to spend resources on education.
"This is a big deal," said state Sen. Robert Antonioni,
D-Leominster, to large applause from the hundreds of
spectators who gathered to watch the ribbon cutting.
"Our history will be defined by certain moments in time, I
would suggest one of those moments is occurring today," he
Throngs of residents milled in the library's different
sections Sunday afternoon, while beaming library staff
Children ran around the library's young adult area,
dedicated to Leominster writer Robert Cormier. Older
residents marveled at the library's much-refurbished front
The renovation made a massive three-story addition to the
library's original 1910 structure, originally donated by
Public money for the building project came into question
last fall when Mayor Dean Mazzarella asked city councilors
to approve a further $1.3 million for the project after
builders ran into water problems.
Councilors at the time challenged the size and scope of the
40,000-square foot project, but ultimately approved a loan.
Ben and Beth Ortega both gave a "Wow" as they left the
building with their three children Sunday.
"It's even more beautiful than we could have ever imagined,"
Beth Ortega said.
Both of them described the library's price tag as "worth
The Ortegas said they home school their children, and the
new library has a lot of improvements.
"It's really a testament to the town," Beth Ortega said.
Shelton received a standing ovation from those in attendance
before speaking before the opening. Many of the afternoon's
speakers also praised her efforts in managing the library
while overseeing much of the construction effort.
Best-selling author and Leominster native Adrian Nicole
LeBlanc said her early experiences in the Leominster library
had a large impact on the writer she later became.
"The library enhanced a childhood that daily gave reading
and knowledge and language respect," LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said that there is no way to calculate how much a
library is worth to a community. She said she is proud
Leominster has chosen to make it a priority.
"This library is a hopeful thing, built and sustained by
people who love books, and love what happens in their
company, who know the importance of what we say and how we
say it, who recognize that democracy thrives in spaces like
this," she said.
Mayor Dean Mazzarella lauded the work done by volunteers and
staff to finish the project.
"So many people in the community who have supported the
library, not when it became fashionable with a new building,
but their entire lives," Mazzarella said. "That's the
He noted the $1.1 million privately raised to support the
Mazzarella officially waived any past outstanding debts or
fines owed by residents to the library in honor of the
opening, and declared next week Leominster Public Library
Kevin Mahoney, visiting the library with his 8-year-old
daughter, said he liked how the new library preserved much
of the old library's history.
"This is really an amazing thing they did here," Mahoney
His daughter, Olivia, called the library "really cool" and
said she liked its new young adult section.
Jason Lortie, there with his 6-year-old daughter, said he
had always gone to the library, but he thinks it will now
attract more residents.
"The library is very, very improved for everyone," Lortie
said. "It's very large, it's very comfortable, it's going to
make more people want to come to the library."
Lortie said the library could become more of a community
center now because of how comfortable and spacious it is.
George Comeau, commissioner of the state Board of Library
Commissioners, praised the city's decision to invest in
library services, which he described as an investment in
freedom and liberty.
"You have built perhaps one of the finest libraries in
Massachusetts," Comeau said to applause.
Gilbert Tremblay, chairman of the Library Board of Trustees,
praised how the library represents how the city has grown
and how the city has shown foresight by investing in a
library while other cities cut back.
"This is a symbol of our city's progress, how we are moving
forward as a community," Tremblay said.