Library's Expansion  | Newspaper Articles

Temporary home being sought for Leominster library
Mary Jo Hill, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, August 11, 2004

LEOMINSTER -- If all goes as hoped, by December the Leominster Public Library will have moved into a temporary home while contractors begin more than doubling the size of the building and the amount of parking.

The library will stay in its temporary space for about a year and a half while the expansion and renovation are completed.Requests for proposals are expected to go out this week asking for submittals from those who want to provide temporary quarters for the library.

While there is conjecture about different sites and people have talked in a conceptual way about providing space to the library, no proposal is being considered at this point, said Mark Bodanza, chairman of the library building committee.

The library is looking for 9,000 to 12,000 square feet, said Library Director Susan T. Shelton.

The expansion project has been in the works for a few years, with Leominster going on a waiting list for a state construction grant in June 2001. The city was notified in November 2002 that the grant money was available, but it took until last September to get city funding.

Talk about finding more space for the library started years earlier.

In the late 1980s, library officials began reorganizing to maximize the use of space, an activity that continued through the mid-1990s, when discussion began about a building project.

When the library last expanded in 1966, the population in Leominster was about 28,000; now it is more than 42,000.

Since the last expansion, technology has changed the way libraries are used. Today public-access computers are popular in Leominster, while the fastest-growing part of the collection in circulation is CDs, DVDs, videos and books on tape and CD.

But more-traditional story hours for youngsters draw crowds as well.

The renovation and expansion project will cost a little more than $10.8 million.

A state grant of $3,021,441 will help cover the cost, along with $7.8 million from the city. Private fund raising will go toward paying the city's debt.

The library now has about 21,000 square feet. Plans call for keeping the three-story 1910 building, which was funded in part by Andrew Carnegie. The 10,000-square-foot addition from 1966 will be demolished. A new 34,434-square-foot addition will take the library to about 45,000 square feet. The 24 parking spaces will grow to about 55 spaces.

Right now, the building is compartmentalized, with visitors winding their way through various rooms and floors.

``It's not functional in the way it's laid out,'' Ms. Shelton said. Once construction is completed, patrons walking in the front door on West Street will be able to continue straight through the building to the door on the Pearl Street side, she said.

The bigger building also will include meeting space that can be used by the community, Ms. Shelton said.

A 150-seat auditorium will be built that can be divided for two simultaneous events so 50 people can be seated on one side and 100 on the other. Local-access cable television coverage will be available for meetings or other events held in the auditorium.FAMILY PROGRAMS

Family oriented programs at the library easily draw 125 to 150 people per event, Ms. Shelton said. Right now, the adult department on the second floor is used to accommodate these larger audiences, she said.

Small conference rooms will be built for groups of six or less. Tutors who come to the library to work with students are among those who could use these rooms, Ms. Shelton said.

The entire building will be air-conditioned, an improvement from the current situation in which only part of the library is air-conditioned.

Woodwork in the 1910 building will be restored and a central skylight, closed since the 1960s, will be reopened. Brickwork on the outside of the structure will be cleaned.DEMOLITION

A house at 39 Pearl St. and a carriage house at the back of 40 West St., both of which have been bought by the city for this project, must be torn down before the project goes out to bid for a general contractor.

Plans call for starting demolition of the 1966 addition in December, but a variety of steps have to be taken before those permits can be issued, Mr. Bodanza said.

The Planning Board must provide site plan approval. The issue is scheduled to be heard on Aug. 17. Also, a variance is needed from the Zoning Board of Appeals. This will be heard on Aug. 18.

An easement agreement for shared parking with the neighboring Pilgrim Congregational Church also must be finalized. The City Council will consider whether to give authority to enter into an agreement with the church on Aug. 23, while the matter is scheduled to be voted on by the church on Sept. 19.

The library hopes to be out of its building on Nov. 8, with plans to reopen at its temporary location on Nov. 29.



Project Overview
Plans and Drawings
Temporary Library

Construction Update
Building Committee
Newspaper Articles