Bonnie L. O’Brien, 77, of Shrewsbury


Shrewsbury – Bonnie L. O’Brien, 77, longtime Shrewsbury resident, passed away unexpectedly on Friday March 13, 2020.

Bonnie was born on June 30, 1942, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to the late William T. and Louise (Tobey) O’Brien. Her life-long love affair with libraries began when she was a young girl. Bonnie was an avid reader. In high school, she started as a volunteer and then was hired to work at the Portsmouth Public Library.

Upon graduation from high school, she attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated in 1965. She went on to attend Drexel University and earned her Masters degree in Library Science. Upon graduation in 1967, with 10 – 12 job offers, she said yes to a position at the Worcester Public Library, allowing her a chance to begin her career and be near her family. In less than a year, she was the head of Children’s Services and the Bookmobile.

In 1978 Bonnie was appointed the Director of the Shrewsbury Public Library. She was immediately involved with the building project that remodeled the Artemas Ward Annex and the original 1903 building and created an addition. Bonnie was one of the twenty-eight librarians who joined together to organize and develop C/W MARS, a library consortium in central and western Massachusetts dedicated to efficient resource sharing and rapid access to information. She was a member of the American Library Association and the Massachusetts Library Association. During her tenure as president of the MLA, Bonnie saw the need for and established a section for paraprofessionals. She was elected to the MLA Hall of Fame in 2010.

Upon her retirement in 2004, then assistant director George C. Brown noted, “Bonnie brought a lot of experience, and she’s seen this library through many years of fantastic growth.”

Bonnie was an active member of her community. She served as a member of town meeting, Tower Hill Botanical Garden, the Shrewsbury Garden Club, the Shrewsbury Historical Society, and a supporter of many local causes. Bonnie was a woman of faith and active in her church community.

Bonnie is survived by her sister Bette Kirby and husband Rick of Oconomowoc, WI, and her sister Bev O’Brien of Northborough, MA. In addition to her siblings, she is survived by her niece Lisa Kirby-Mangas and husband Bob of Middleton, WI; nephew Brent Kirby and wife Jenna of Cleveland, OH; grandnieces Maggie, Jenny, Abby, Mira, and grandnephew Ever.

Funeral services for Bonnie are forthcoming, and will be held in the summer.