By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – An open house was held Aug. 10 at the newly expanded and renovated Shrewsbury Public Library, so that the major donors could see the positive effects of their substantial contributions to the successful $1.75 million fundraising campaign. Maps were passed out for a self-guided tour of the building.
Voters had approved a measure to expand and renovate the library in a ballot vote Nov. 5, 2013. The town received approximately $8 million from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for the project. The town’s portion, $13.3 million, will be funded through a debt exclusion. Supporters committed to also raising $1.75 million through fundraising endeavors.
“It was a delightful night, and it gave a chance for those very generous donors to see the results of their support. People were ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over the various aspects of the building from the whimsy in the children’s room and the stately look of the 1903 building to the integration of the technology,” said Director Ellen Dolan the night of the donors’ reception. “People kept telling me how peaceful and welcoming it looked and how grateful they were for all the additional parking.”
Bernardine Strom and her daughter Martha were thrilled to see the new circulation desk with its sleek design and countertop of soft greens and muted golds, which had been donated in memory of the late George A. Strom Jr.
“When my husband died, we asked everyone to donate to the library in his memory,” Strom said. “He was the first person to have the desire and energy to explore the planning for a new library. He was the chair of the Library Trustees for 16 years. If he were living, he would know that faith can move mountains.”
Strom’s wife and children also donated the funding for the staff room in memory of the many hours he spent there.
Longtime Friends of the Library member and library patron Janet M. Conlon has lived in Shrewsbury for 42 years and loves everything about the library.
“I’m a regular user and was a librarian for the Worcester Public School for many years. This new library is a way of bringing people together not just for reading, but for speakers, exhibits and events. It’s the true heart of this community,” she noted.
Melissa Misiewicz is a board member of the Friends of the Library and serves as its Program Committee co-chair.
“My mother died at the same time as the library fundraiser,” she explained. “I love the library, and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor her memory than donating. I picked the children’s area because I’m one of five children, and books have always been an important part of our lives.”
During the brief program in the new large meeting room on the main floor, some of the volunteers who have worked so hard to make the renovated and enlarged library a reality said a few words. Laurie Hogan, chair of the Library Trustees, thanked the many donors, sponsors, all the various committees, the architects, and the builder who all worked so hard to make the new library possible. She noted that Mike Pagano, the architect, had managed to join the 1903 building to the new addition so that it flows seamlessly from one section to the next, adding that he was so professional and cared so much about getting the job done right and on time and under budget.
The Capital Campaign was spearheaded by Mary Casey and Matt Hogan.
“This is a celebration for the town,” Casey said. “We waited a long time for this library. I’ve worked on this for over 10 years. We needed to raise $1.75 million, a number that has never changed. The early adopters (of the project) gave money at the beginning that was the impetus to keep going forward.”
Hogan added, “The people sitting in this room have really done the work by opening your checkbooks. We made a commitment that we would raise the funds. We hit our goal, and the library has come in under budget.”
Complimentary copies of the hardcover commemorative book, “Shrewsbury Public Library, Building the Next Chapter,” were passed out as visitors left the reception.
The library will be closed from Aug. 15 until the soft opening Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 9 a.m. Normal hours will resume at the 609 Main St. location in the center of town. The grand opening celebration will take place Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 11 a.m.