Marlborough library temporarily relocates to Walker Building

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Photo by/Dakota Antelman
The Marlborough Public Library sits at the corner of Main St. and Prospect St.

By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor

MARLBOROUGH – The staff and patrons of the Marlborough Public Library will watch part of their old home crumble to the ground and rise again over the next two years from a hilltop perch just across the street. 

After being delayed by COVID-19, a long-awaited project to replace the bulk of the aging downtown library building is finally moving forward. In a major step last month, library staff made way for work to begin by moving their entire operation to the city’s iconic Walker Building.

“The Walker Building was just available to us,” Library Director Margaret Cardello said in a recent interview with the Community Advocate. “So, we jumped at the opportunity to be so close to the library and to have the space that we need to operate from.”

Old library is a historic structure

The library at the intersection of Main St. and Prospect St. exists thanks in part to a donation from industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie at the turn of the century. 

From there, Marlborough built an addition that it first opened in 1970. That’s the part of the building now subject to demolition. The historic Carnegie facade and front rooms will remain.

Library has moved before

On a more than hundred-year time scale, this isn’t the first time the library has had to move. 

The library was still operating out of City Hall when, in 1902, City Hall burnt to the ground. The flames claimed part of the library’s collection. But staff set up in a temporary location within a matter of months and moved into the new Carnegie library in 1904.

A similar situation played out 65 years later when, in 1967, an arsonist set fire to the library, damaging several of its rooms. 

The staff at the time uprooted and relocated to the then recently vacated old post office on Mechanic St., according to a history of the library published by the Library Board of Trustees.  

A floor plan illustrates plans for part of the interior of the Marlborough Public Library’s new addition.

Library eyes new addition

In 2021, it’s not a fire, but a team of demolition crews that has the library on the move.

Work will begin later this year, likely in August, Cardello said. From there, it will take roughly 18 months to complete this project. 

When doors reopen, the new library will boast a multi-million dollar 16,000 square foot addition. 

In the meantime, the library will soon reopen for borrowing out of its temporary home in the Walker Building. 

Though they haven’t announced a date for that reopening, staff remain at work setting up IT infrastructure and organizing their spaces, Cardello said. 

The library now spans part of the first floor of the Walker Building, sharing space with the city’s Human Services department. 

Others with a presence in the building, like State Senator Jamie Eldridge have relocated their offices to make room. 

“Everybody’s been really cooperative and I think they’re really excited to have us in the building,” Cardello said.

Learn more about the renovation project… https://www.marlborough-ma.gov/library-0