Town, Library Officials Remain Committed to Improving Building as Needed
EAST BRIDGEWATER — Director of Library Services Christopher McGee announces that the East Bridgewater Public Library’s Board of Library Trustees has voted to withdraw its application for a state grant to renovate and expand the library.
The Board of Library Trustees submitted an application for a renovation/expansion project for the library through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program in 2016, and was placed on the waitlist the following year. At that time, the project totaled approximately $17.8 million, with the town’s share being just under $10 million. No grants were awarded last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the town is currently first in line to receive the grant from the MPLCP.
Rising costs due to the pandemic led the project’s total to increase to just under $19 million, with the town’s share roughly $11 million. Due to this, the town will withdraw its application request.
“The feeling is that asking taxpayers to partially fund this project is just not reasonable at this time,” Director McGee said. “We have to keep the needs of the entire town in mind, and while this project is certainly important, we feel that now is not the time to be asking residents to pay for such a project with everything else that is going on.”
The project would have renovated multiple portions of the library building, which was built in 1896. This would have included adding approximately 25% of space (including public meeting room space); adding additional computer stations; improving the building’s heating, cooling and electrical systems; adding parking spaces and making the building more in line with expected future needs of a modern library facility.
The vote to approve the funding for the project would have needed Special Town Meeting approval later this year.
The East Bridgewater Public Library was one of the first libraries in the region to reopen last spring, and several COVID 19-prevention protocols were put in place such as PPE usage and one-way foot traffic patterns. After closing again last December, the building reopened on March 15 and has been serving residents since then.
“We have been offering a variety of services, including curbside pickup and limited in-person hours,” Director McGee said. “We offer ‘take and make’ kits, virtual programming, and more. We know how important the library is to the residents of our community, and we will continue working to keep our services going.”
Despite the withdrawal of the MPLCP project, the town remains committed to making the building as serviceable as possible, including reconfiguring existing space to best meet the needs of residents.
The library will also be updating its five-year strategic plan in 2021, and the process will include obtaining community input on improvements that are most desired for the building. Both paper and virtual surveys will be made available to the public, with details on the plan to be released in the coming months.
The library is currently open on a reduced schedule. The building is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The children’s room is currently closed to the public, but the hope is to reopen the room in the near future.
To view the library’s website, which includes an online catalog, calendar of events and more, click here.