THE LYNNFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY held two public forums on March 5 to update interested residents and library patrons on the library building program as well as gain feedback from residents. The forums were moderated by, from left, Library Assistant Director Samantha Cabral, Library Building Consultant Mary Braney and Library Director Nancy Ryan. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

THE LYNNFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY held two public forums on March 5 to update interested residents and library patrons on the library building program as well as gain feedback from residents. The forums were moderated by, from left, Library Assistant Director Samantha Cabral, Library Building Consultant Mary Braney and Library Director Nancy Ryan. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield Public Library officials held two public forums on March 5 to update residents and library patrons on the library’s building program and to give local residents an opportunity to weigh-in on the project.

In order to make the meetings convenient for townspeople, library officials held a forum at 10 a.m. on March 5 and a forum at 7:30 p.m. as well. There were nine attendees at the 10 a.m. forum.


Library Director Nancy Ryan began the forum by giving a history lesson about the library, which she said is a “jerry-rigged” building due to a number of different renovations. She said the town transformed the original Centre School, now the children’s room, into the library in 1904. She said the library added a 700 square feet addition in 1957.

The library expanded again in 1967 when an additional 7,940 square feet was added, which is when the library “took on the shape and size it is now.” The expansion added the mezzanine, reading room, Palladian window and the library’s lower level.

Ryan said the library was once again renovated in 1990, when a ramp, elevator and air conditioning were added. The circulation desk and library offices were also moved, the restrooms were relocated and the HVAC system was upgraded.

The children’s room was renovated in 2012, which included painting the walls and trim as well and a new painted mural. New light fixtures, ceiling tiles, tables, chairs, a bench, computer workstations and reference desk were included. Ryan said the Rotary Club also donated a caterpillar activity bench and stools to the children’s room.

Building program

Ryan said the role of the library is changing in the community due to the increased use of technology.

“(Technology is) forcing public libraries in the 21st century to take a look at what they are doing, realign their priorities and move forward to attract new people of different ages,” said Ryan. “We have to come up with new programs and collections that will interest a variety of different people. The library can no longer be a warehouse for books and magazines. Those days are gone and we have to change.”

Library consultant Mary Braney is assisting library officials with the library building program. She began working on library building projects over 20 years ago when her hometown, Spencer, constructed an addition for its library.

As part of the library’s building program, Braney has been working with library staff, local officials and townspeople to collect feedback about what they believe is “crucial” for the library’s programs and services. She said the feedback has been positive.

After the data is collected, Braney will “quantify” the data as part of the building program, which will be compiled in a report.

“It’s been a comprehensive process,” said Braney. “It’s been great to hear what the library’s needs are from different constituents.”

Braney said a new library will need to be constructed at a new location because the library’s current location is “not large enough to accommodate what we need.”

According to Braney, there will be a multi-step process before a new library can be constructed. The library received a $50,000 planning and design grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners last year. After the building program report is finalized, the library will need to hire an owner’s project manager and an architect. Additionally, voters will have an opportunity to vote on a new library at Town Meeting.

“You’ll have an opportunity to say yeah or nay,” Ryan added.


A gentleman in the audience asked Ryan where she envisions where a new library would be located.

Ryan said a new library could potentially be located in close proximity to the Reedy Meadow Golf Course. According to Ryan, Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) Chairman Ted Caswell informed library officials he believes the town will need to allocate one-and-a-half acres of land to construct a new library.

The library director said there are a number of reasons why a new library cannot be constructed at its current location. She said the only way a new library can be constructed at the site is if the library “is built up.” However, she noted the current location does not have adequate parking and has a “dicey septic system that will need to be completely redone.”

Additionally, Ryan said a new library is needed because library officials want to offer more programs and services for children and young adults. She said 40 percent of the library’s circulation is children and young adult materials.

“They are our future,” said Ryan. “We want to honor that and support it by increasing the size of the children’s area, the collections and the diversity of the programs. We can’t do it here.”

Ryan said constructing a new facility will allow the library to host adult programs, which are often held at the Meeting House.

The library director also noted the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners requires libraries to have enough parking spaces at a specific location in order to receive state funding. She said the town could potentially be eligible to be reimbursed between “40 and 50 percent” if a new library is built at a different location. She said the town will not be reimbursed if a new library is constructed at its current location.

Braney agreed.

“(The Board of Commissioners) want these projects to succeed,” said Braney. “They don’t want state money to go to an unsuccessful project. This is why library projects are highly successful in Massachusetts.”

Friends of the Lynnfield Library Vice President Ann Decker inquired what the timeline is to construct a new library.

Ryan said library officials need to sign a contract with an owner’s project manager in April. An architect is scheduled to be hired in July. She said the library will be able to apply for a construction grant application in January 2017 and the library could potentially receive a provisional award in July 2017.

Additionally, Braney noted towns have a six-month window to establish a plan to receive local funding for a library project to be approved by the Board of Library Commissioners.

If everything goes according to plan, Ryan said construction for a new library could begin in January 2019.

Library Assistant Director Samantha Cabral said the planning and design grant the library received is a “step in the right direction because everything that we are doing now is required to be included in the application for the construction grant.”

Ryan noted it’s a three-step process in order to receive a construction grant. In order to request the “first chunk of money,” Ryan said the building program needs to be completed and the OPM has to be “hired or under contract.” She said the second step in the process is completing the schematic design and the third step is a vote approving the project.

“You have three chances to get this money but they control it very tightly,” said Ryan.

Alan Dresios, 64 Bourque Rd., inquired how the town will be reimbursed by the state.

After a library files a construction grant application, Ryan said the Board of Library Commissioners ranks projects on a numeric scale. Ryan said if a library is unable to get “local funding,” a library will drop down the list and “someone will take your place.”

Braney noted it’s important for library projects to have “strong community support” and an “excellent building program and design” in order to receive state funding. She also said communities need to make a “strong argument” for why a new library is needed.

Essex Street resident Jane Bandini asked library officials what will happen to the current library if a new one is constructed. Ryan said CFAC will decide how the current library will be re-purposed.

Dresios also inquired what will happen to the library’s genealogy collection. Ryan said library officials want to have a “much larger genealogy room” in a new library.

Ann Glynn, 11 Lantern Ln., said she enjoys visiting the library regularly with her four children.

“I have four small children under the age of 10 and the library has been a life saver,” said Glynn. “I know computers have their purpose but nothing warms my heart more than a physical book.”

Braney agreed with Glynn’s sentiment. While the Internet serves a purpose, she said books can help people determine which answers are right and which answers are wrong. She also noted public surveys conducted by the PEW Research Center have revealed half of the population prefers print over eBooks, including adolescents and young adults.