A RENDERING OF THE proposed $34 million Lynnfield Public Library project. (William Rawn Associates Photo)
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Library officials gave an overview of the proposed $34 million building project during the Finance Committee’s Sept. 21 meeting.
Voters will be asked to approve the $34 million project during Fall Town Meeting on Monday, Oct. 16, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Lynnfield Middle School auditorium. If Fall Town Meeting approves the project, a debt exclusion vote will tentatively take place during a Special Town Election in early December.
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissions (MBLC) recently voted to award the town a $9,077,464 provisional grant for the project.
Library Building Committee member Joe Gallagher, who is also a member of the Finance Committee, discussed the project’s history. He said the current library dates back to 1856 when the old Centre Schoolhouse was built. He noted that the library moved into the building in 1904.
Gallagher said the library was expanded in 1959 when a 700-square-foot addition was constructed. He said a separate 7,948-square-foot addition was constructed in 1967.
The library was last renovated in 1991, which is when the ramp in front of the building was constructed and air conditioning and an elevator were installed. Gallagher said the library’s roof and HVAC were both repaired, and the circulation desk was relocated.
“One of the questions people ask is, ‘why don’t we renovate the current library instead of building a new library,’” said Gallagher. “The answer is we already did. Lynnfield applied in 2001 for an MBLC building renovation grant. The MBLC rejected the building renovation proposal due to the limited size of the site, the lack of parking and there was no opportunity for future expansion.”
Gallagher said the proposed new library would be located on a portion of the Reedy Meadow Golf Course, which was selected in 2008. The building program was approved in 2015, and the Board of Library Trustees submitted the MBLC grant application in 2017.
“The MBLC awarded Lynnfield a provisional $9 million grant in July,” said Gallagher.
Gallagher said there are several “issues” with the current library.
“Accessibility is a problem,” said Gallagher. “Everybody has experienced the limited parking spaces at the library. The entrance ramp is hard to navigate with a wheelchair. It might seem easy for people to walk into the library, but it is difficult if you are trying to navigate a stroller or a double stroller, or are with your kids. It’s actually very difficult to get into the building.”
Gallagher said the current library “no longer fits our growing community.”
“There is no room in the library to fit 20-plus guests,” said Gallagher. “That is why large events are held off site such as the Common, MarketStreet or the Meeting House.”
Gallagher noted that sound from library presentations held on the mezzanine “carries over” to other parts of the building.
“Library staff often get complaints from people who can hear what is going on upstairs when they want to study quietly,” said Gallagher.
Gallagher said the two children’s librarians often have to rearrange the Children’s Room furniture when holding programs in there due to a lack of space. He also noted that the library lacks storage space.
“Things are put where they shouldn’t be because there is no other place to put them,” said Gallagher.
Gallagher noted that the $34 million library project is in the “conceptual design phase.”
“That means the design is not final and could change over time,” said Gallagher. “If the project moves forward, we will move into schematic design. That is when we will establish the design concept for the project. The parts of the project that contain glass might change to some other material.”
Director Abby Porter gave an overview of the proposed new library’s layout. She recalled that William Rawn Associates Architects, Inc. is designing the proposed $34 million Lynnfield Library.
“I visited the East Boston Library, which was built by Rawn Architects,” said Porter. “It was a really warm and welcoming space.”
Porter said the new facility will have a front lawn that could be used for different types of programming such as concerts and Story Time.
“We will also have three different courtyards for adults, teens and children,” said Porter.
Porter said the inside of the proposed new library will include four quiet study rooms, a conference room and a large meeting room.
“Those will all be available afterhours to book for meetings or late night programs,” said Porter.
Porter said the proposed new library will include a Genealogy Room.
“The Genealogy Room will be climate controlled,” said Porter. “Our Genealogy Room is not currently. We have to regularly switch between humidifiers and dehumidifiers. We have some materials in the Genealogy Room that are irreplaceable, and it would be really devastating to lose those.”
Porter said the new library would also include a tech lab.
“It would compliment what the schools are doing,” said Porter. “We would be able to have coding clubs for kids. We currently do one-on-one technology sessions for seniors, and this would allow us to expand what we are already doing. Technology has taken over a lot of the reference services. Lynnfield High School students are doing a portfolio project right now, and I am envisioning the tech lab will be able to help them after-school.”
Porter said the new library will have a teen room that will be bigger than the current designated space that is near the Children’s Room.
“It’s a space where they can be independent, but library staff will supervise it,” said Porter. “They could still be able to meet with friends and study after-school. We will have video games for them for fun.”
Porter said the new library’s Children’s Room will also be much bigger than the current space.
“It gives us so much space to do programming,” said Porter.
Porter also noted that the new facility will have a designated space for the Friends of the Lynnfield Library.
“The Friends are currently using a creepy dark basement to sort books,” said Porter. “We would love for them to have their own space.”
Porter said each room will have “cozy seating.”
“We have some really uncomfortable chairs right now,” said Porter.
For more information about the proposed $34 million Lynnfield Library project, visit https://www.newlynnfieldlibrary.com/.