Library's Expansion |  Project Overview

Artist Rendering of Proposed Library
Building for the Future

The City of Leominster has a rich history of library service to the community dating back to 1856. The desire for information and intellectual growth, which led to the founding of the public library in 1856, is more evident today than ever before. In a city of rich ethnic and socio-economic diversity, the library is the only municipal institution that serves the entire community.

The library continues to be one of the most popular destinations in the center of the city, with an average of over 3,500 patrons visiting weekly. These patrons, from Leominster and surrounding communities, enjoy the library’s small-town ambiance despite its urban setting.

The library’s original building is an architectural gem in the downtown area. This two-story Roman brick structure with limestone trim was built in 1910 with partial funding from Andrew Carnegie. It is one of the contributing structures to the Monument Square Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A 10,000 square foot warehouse-like addition was opened in 1966, with the expectation that the facility would meet the needs of the community for the ensuing 20 years.

Thirty-eight years have elapsed since that time. Leominster’s population has grown from 27,929 to 41,895, making it the second largest city in Central Massachusetts. During that time, the library’s circulation has increased from 124,319 to 303,200 and its collection has increased in size from 59,122 to 124,357. Additionally, in the 3,301 hours the library was open to the public in FY04, the staff answered 25,102 information/reference questions, presented 390 programs attended by 14,165 residents of all ages, provided 26,556 sessions of public computer use (averaging 31 minutes per session), and offered meeting space to several hundred community groups and organizations.

On a typical day, patrons may be found using the public computers to conduct a job search, read a foreign newspaper, email a family member, research a medical condition, or make reservations for airline tickets. On the first floor, patrons can be found browsing the video and DVD sections, while a family borrows a pass to any one of a number of area museums. At the Information desk, the librarian may be found helping a local businessman find the contact information for an elusive company in British Columbia, while parents and young children are visiting the Children’s Room to check out summer reading books or to attend the “Amazing Animals!” program. Teenagers are sure to be found in the library’s Robert Cormier Center, checking out the latest Japanese “manga” comics or relaxing with their favorite magazine. On the library’s second floor, patrons are usually found reading or studying, many with laptops at hand. And finally, a couple could be found in the library’s historical and genealogical area researching their family history. At the Leominster Public Library, books truly are “just the beginning” of the materials and services available to the community.

Due to increased patron demands, a greater variety of resources and services, and the advent of electronic technology, the current facility has become increasingly inadequate. There is insufficient space for the library’s collection, limited public seating, inadequate areas for library programming and community meetings, limited handicapped accessibility, severe limitations in adapting the current building to new technologies, improper space to house the library’s local historical and genealogical collections, health, safety, and security problems, inadequate parking, and inconvenient access to the building from the parking area.

In 1999 the library hired a nationally recognized consultant to work with the Board of Trustees and staff to develop a Building Program. This program, projecting service to the community for the next 20 years, determined that the library would best serve the community by remaining in its current location, but would need to more than double the size of its existing facility.

A Feasibility Study Committee was appointed in 2000 to hire an architect to conduct a feasibility study and develop a schematic design proposal, using the library’s Building Program, for an expanded and renovated library facility. The committee hired Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates, an architectural firm with considerable library design and historic preservation experience.

The proposed project will expand the library to 44,513 square feet with 55 adjacent parking spaces by removing the existing addition, renovating the 1910 building, and constructing a new 34,434 square-foot addition creating entrances on both West Street and Pearl Street.

An expanded library facility in its current location is essential in order to provide both traditional services and new technologies. The proposed project will double public space and maximize the efficiency of library staff. This expansion will provide for:

• Expanded popular children’s services area

• Improved security and safety for public and staff, as well as library materials

• Greater space for large and small community group meetings both during and after regular library hours

• Increased access to new technologies and computer training

• Expanded nationally recognized young adult services area

• Centers for Career Information and Business Resources

• Preservation of irreplaceable local historical and genealogical documents in order to prevent further deterioration

• Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act

• Restoration of historic building

• Greater space for quiet study, literacy tutoring, and library programming

• Expanded shelving and displays for both print and non-print collections

• Additional user seating

• Enhanced vitality of prominent building in Leominster’s downtown area

• Catalyst for urban renewal in Pearl Street area

• Increased parking and access.

In November 2002, the library received notification from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners of the provisional award of a $3,021,441 competitive state construction grant to help fund this $10.8M project. In order to be awarded this state construction grant, the library was given until November 7, 2003 to secure the necessary local funding for the project.

A televised public informational meeting before the City Council regarding the project was held in March 2003. In August 2003, the City Council held a public hearing in preparation for voting on the authorization to bond for the project. Public support for the project was overwhelming. Many residents and area business owners wrote letters and called their City Councilors, while others waited in line at the public forum to speak directly to the Council. This public testimony, attesting to the importance of the library in the lives of the residents, and the value of the library to the community, lasted nearly 3 hours. In September 2003, the Leominster City Council voted unanimously to borrow the funds to provide the local support needed to accept the state grant and move the project forward.

In November 2003, a newly appointed Library Building Committee was formed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. Through a Request for Proposal process, the Committee voted to hire Adams & Smith (who previously worked on Leominster’s project while at Burt Hill) in collaboration with Beacon Architectural Associates. The Committee selected this excellent architectural team based on their reputation in the state of Massachusetts, their previous public library work, and their experience designing and constructing libraries requiring major additions to historic buildings located in crowded downtown areas.

In May 2005, the library moved to its temporary location at Crossroads Office Park, 690 Mechanic Street. A July groundbreaking ceremony marked the official start of the project. Construction is scheduled to be completed in late 2006, and the newly expanded and renovated library will open to the public in early 2007.

A final key component in bringing this project to fruition is private fundraising. The library has begun to work on this aspect of the project, which will include naming opportunities of space within the facility.

The Leominster Public Library has served the community with distinction for nearly 150 years. As a new century begins, this expansion project is necessary in order for the library to continue to provide quality service to its residents, and create a comfortable, pleasant and inviting environment for patrons to visit. This plan will allow the library to preserve its past, and look to the future, enabling it to remain a vital, responsive community service. This project will be our legacy for future generations.

It is the partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Leominster, foundations, area businesses and private individuals that will create a state-of-the-art library that will be the cornerstone of our community.


Project Overview
Plans and Drawings
Temporary Library

Construction Blog
Building Committee
Newspaper Articles