Westborough Public Library outlines updated timeline for expansion project

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Westborough Public Library outlines updated timeline for expansion project
Mary Johnston and Maureen Amyot present on the proposed Westborough Public Library renovation project. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – Westborough library staff expect to bring an article to town meeting later this year seeking approval of their long-awaited library renovation project. 

That will follow a major grant award that the library expects to win this summer that will, in turn, start a six-month countdown during which the town must get approval for its project, Library Director Maureen Amyot said during a public forum on the project last week.

Library holds long history

The historic library in downtown Westborough had originally operated out of space in the Town Hall. 

It outgrew that space by the early 1900s, though, prompting the purchase of new land for a stand-alone library in 1906, according to Library Board of Trustees Chair Mary Johnston.

A library was built, and Town Meeting voters later funded design and development for an expansion in 1977. 

With Westborough’s population increasing, the library recently realized it needed to make changes once again, prompting it to conduct a needs assessment.

“The study revealed that the current building could no longer effectively accommodate the services, wishes or needs for the community nor would it be able to do so in the future,” Johnston said. “It showed the library was undersized to serve the community as a thriving 21st century public library.”

The biggest needs are the children and teen areas, meeting space, staff support space and space for local history, Johnston said.

Amyot also said that the windows in the original portion of the building are original and that the exterior wood frames are disintegrating.

Library applies for grant

The library applied for a construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) in 2017 and was notified several months later that it was ranked 11th on a prioritized list for funding.

Five years later, Westborough has climbed to the top of that prioritization list. 

As a result, the library is expecting to be awarded its grant when the MBLC announces grant awards in July.

A reimbursement grant over five years, Town Meeting voters will weigh in on the full amount that the town needs for this work. The MBLC will then make payments once specific milestones are reached, Amyot said. 

The total project cost was estimated to be $24 million, with just over $9.4 million reimbursable under the grant back in 2016.

The library is now working on a new cost estimate, which Johnston said she expects will be completed by the late summer. 

As part of the project, the addition and a small portion of the original building will be demolished.

Westborough Public Library outlines updated timeline for expansion project
Residents gathered at the Westborough Public Library last week to learn more about the proposed library renovation project. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Amyot and Johnston presented conceptual images of the renovated library, including depictions of a new three-story addition and an outdoor courtyard and meeting space with windows. There will be restrooms on every floor of the building under current plans.

“For 114 years, any time a Westborough resident went to the library, they came here — to 55 West Main Street,” said Amyot. “We have a long history in the current location, and we’re committed to protecting that history while providing a library that the town needs and deserves.” 

If Town Meeting approves the project, the library will search for a temporary home, allowing construction to commence shortly after the move. 

Construction is expected to be completed at the end of 2025, with a ribbon in the first quarter of 2026, Amyot said. 

In the meantime, the library is conducting a survey to gather community input on the project. That survey can be found at https://s.surveyplanet.com/mutl70cd

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