Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Temporary home being sought for Leominster library
Mary Jo Hill, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, August
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
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
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
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
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
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.