By Jerry Callaghan, Contributing Photographer
Grafton – An early November chill did not keep people away from the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Grafton Public Library Nov. 6. State and local dignitaries as well as instrumental people in the drive for a new library were on hand to break ground and celebrate the moment.
Architects Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. designed the estimated $16.6 million project under the aegis of the Grafton Library Planning and Building Committee. The project will transform the circa-1928 building into a modern 26,000 square foot Library designed to meet the current population needs and the expected growth in population in 20 years.
The project team includes Ken Best, principal architect at Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc.; general contractor CTA Construction Company Inc. of Waltham; Mark Sullivan, D.A. Sullivan & Sons Inc of Northampton (Owner’s Project Manager) and Clerk of the Works’ Andy Deschenes.
In July 2017, the town of Grafton was awarded a $7.4 million grant from the Massachusetts public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) administered by the Massachusetts Library Board of Commissioners (MLBC) or 48 percent of eligible estimated costs to fund the project.
The town’s share of the project funding is about $9.2 million. A capital campaign has been formed to support the building project and has received pledges and donations in excess of a quarter of a million dollars.
Library Director Beth Gallaway is looking forward to an increase in library use at the new library.
“There are 10,000 Grafton residents out of a population of 18,000 that have library cards,” she noted. “We want to bring that number up.”
The building project includes preserving the front section of the circa-1928 Library with an entrance on the Grafton Common. The upper level (Common entrance) will include the historic main reading room, showcasing beautiful original Palladian windows and woodwork, as well as meeting rooms, collections, and services for adults. The lower level (Upton St. entrance) will house youth services space and collections, including a children’s program room, a teen-tween program and gaming rooms, several tutoring rooms, and mechanical and electrical equipment rooms.
The expansion will provide space for a large community meeting room, study rooms, tutoring spaces, teen and tween areas, a children program room, local history room, Friends of the Library book sale space, expanded areas for nonfiction and fiction collection, a patio and many more attributes of a modern library.
The project began in October 2016 when the Library received the town’s permission to apply for a grant round offered through the MPLCP and hire an architect to create a schematic design for the grant application. Gallaway applied for the grant in January 2017. Citizens voted at the May 2017 town meeting to approve the preliminary design and accept the grant funding and to raise appropriate matching funds. The funding was passed at a town-wide election a few weeks later.
This past May the town received $460,000 from the MLBC that may be used for partial payment of eligible costs. The library qualified for this early reimbursement because the MLBC designated the library under construction due to the town’s Select Board’s decision to borrow the full amount of the project. This money was funded from undistributed MPLCP grants.
The library has relocated to a temporary site at 53 N. Main Street in North Grafton, at the former St. Andrews Church. The library continues to offer the same services, and operating hours remain the same – Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The project is expected to be completed by late spring of 2021 and is partially funded by as state grant administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Construction updates will be posted at www.graftonlibrary.org/thetimeisnow.
Photos/Jerry Callaghan, Callaghan Photography