Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
`New' library gets rave reviews
Mary Jo Hill, Telegram & Gazette, June 11, 2007
LEOMINSTER - Crowds poured into the newly expanded
Leominster Public Library, at 30 West St., with kids
plopping down on big pillows to read books and adults
talking about the spaciousness and renovations.
More than 200 people turned out yesterday to listen to
dedication speeches under a tent and then line up to finally
get a look at the results of the more than $13 million
project."It is huge! I love it. It's bigger than ours," said
Sylvia Page, who recently moved to the city from Gardner,
which opened a new library in 2004.
"We couldn't wait to get it open," said Ms. Page, who came
with her three daughters.
Rick Shatos and his son, Matt, were already browsing in the
stacks and Matt had some science-fiction books in hand. The
library has more space and is brighter than before, Mr.
As people wandered through the young-adult room, Benjamin
Kessler, 12, of Leominster, relaxed on pillows reading a
book titled "Bad Cat."
"I think it is great," Benjamin said, explaining that he
likes the books and games and having more places to sit.
"The bathrooms are much nicer, too," said Jake Cardinal, 12,
And 12-year-old Brandon Route of Leominster noted there was
a PlayStation 2 available to use in the library. Instead of
checking out 13 books at a time to take home, Brandon now
plans on reading them at the library, he said.
The library opens for business at 9 this morning.
The mix of old and new in the library includes the original
1910 building - funded in part by steel tycoon and library
philanthropist Andrew Carnegie - which has now been
renovated. A 1966 addition of 10,000 square feet was torn
down to make room for a 34,434-square-foot addition.
During the dedication ceremony, everyone from architects to
the taxpayers were recognized. And the donations that have
added up to $1.1 million - just $100,000 shy of the goal to
pay for furniture and other items - were acknowledged as
Library Director Susan T. Shelton, who has shepherded the
project through occasional troubles such as the discovery of
groundwater and asbestos, received a standing ovation.
As Mrs. Shelton was introduced, Owen Shuman, director of the
Groton Public Library, and Susan Tallman, past director of
the Ritter Memorial Library in Lunenburg, whooped and
Ms. Shuman later said they have an informal group of library
directors who meet at the North End Diner in Leominster and
provide a support group for those who have gone through
"She, of course, has done an outstanding job," Ms. Shuman
said. As for the roadblocks, Ms. Shelton handled those
situations with "grace and aplomb," she said.
When Ms. Shelton spoke, she said that whether those in the
audience played large or small roles, their involvement
boosted the project.
"Visit us. Visit us often for this building is open to all,"
Ms. Shelton said.
Gilbert P. Tremblay, chairman of the library's board of
trustees, said the library is frequented by everyone in the
community, from the youngest residents to the oldest.
The project was done with blood, sweat and tears, Mr.
Tremblay said. The blood came when he tripped on steel
rebar, the sweat from all of the people who worked on the
building and the library staff, and there were tears of
frustration when the groundwater and asbestos problems came
up, he said.
"You have put your faith in learning," said George T. Comeau,
a member of the state Board of Library Commissioners. A
future Nobel laureate, poet laureate or a great doctor could
be influenced by the library, he said.
Adrian N. LeBlanc, an author who grew up in Leominster and
who has won a MacArthur genius grant, was the guest speaker.
She talked about coming to the library as a child. She would
spend Saturday mornings browsing in the library while her
mother collected her next week's supply of books, she said.
These aren't terrific times for libraries, so Leominster has
made an admirable choice by making this project a priority,
said Ms. LeBlanc, who now lives in New York. While there are
no hard facts to prove the benefits of a library, a child
can escape there from a noisy house to do homework, or a
newly sober man can come there to work on his resume, she
Access isn't based on income at a library, she noted. "Books
are shared, they aren't owned."
Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella said that although there are plenty
of stories in the books in the library, "the real story is
under this tent today." He said "average people" raised $1.1
million for the library, and so many people have been
supporting it all along, not just when it became fashionable
because of the expansion, he said.
As for patrons with overdue books, the mayor and councilors
announced they would be waiving the overdue book fees. From
today through June 30, outstanding fines up to $20 will be
Six city councilors attended the ceremony.
Although cost overruns caused some consternation among some
councilors, the three men who didn't attend the dedication
event said their absences had nothing to do with those
Councilor Dennis A. Rosa said by telephone that Sundays are
pretty much a family day because he runs his business the
rest of the week. He noted that he and his wife donated to
the library fund.
Councilor David E. Rowlands said his wife just went through
surgery and can't drive or shop and he had a softball game
And Councilor John M. Dombrowski said he had to coach his
son's Little League game.
"I didn't have a problem with the project," Mr. Dombrowski
said, although he said he did have a problem with the
Leominster's project comes at a time when a number of
communities in the state are closing libraries or cutting
back on hours and services because of budget woes, Councilor
Claire M. Freda said. "This community should really be