Seeking approval for building project, Westborough library hosts open house

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Seeking approval for building project, Westborough library hosts open house
Cora Lickider of Westborough, left, has her caricature done during the Open House at the Westborough Public Library on Sept. 9. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

WESTBOROUGH – Every two weeks, Diana and Jason Lickider, along with their daughter, Cora, come to the Westborough Public Library.

Here, they can borrow everything from books to a power washer. 

“We love it here,” said Diana.

On the evening of Sept. 9, the Lickiders were at the library but not to borrow anything. They were among the dozens of residents attending the library’s open house.

While Cora sat to have a caricature done, other visitors enjoyed a performance from the Hip Swayers, played games such as stacking cups, said hello to Paw Patrol characters Chase and Marshall, had pizza and desserts and had their photo taken in front of a Westborough landmark.

Among all the fun, the open house also had a serious side – the quest to support the library’s building project.

Question 12 on this fall’s Town Meeting warrant asks residents to support the next step to have the library undergo a complete renovation.

According to Library Director Maureen Amyot, the process began back in 2012 with a needs assessment. After being told by a consultant that the library was “undersized” and would not meet present or future needs, the library received a planning grant to begin design work.

In 2017, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) placed Westborough on the waiting list for a state grant. Four years later, Westborough made it to the top of the list, and in July, the library was awarded a grant from the MBLC for $9.4 million, dependent on town approval by Jan. 9, 2023.

According to a summary provided by the library, the total project cost was estimated in 2016 to be approximately $24 million, with just over $9.4 million reimbursable under the grant. However, an updated cost estimate will be announced during the Select Board’s discussion about Article 12 Sept. 13.

The project will be headed by Fontaine Bros. as construction manager at risk.

What’s needed at Westborough Public Library

Amyot wants the library, which opened in 1908, to continue to be a “connector to the community.”

Should the project be approved, the original part of the library will undergo a complete renovation, with new windows and roof, as well as new wiring and plumbing.

The 1980 addition will be demolished and replaced.

The new building will include more meeting spaces and study rooms, as well as a bigger children’s room and teen space.

During the project construction, the library will operate out of a temporary location to be determined.

Anthony Vaver, who helps run the Westborough Center for History and Culture, would like the new library to provide “double the space” for exhibits and storage of historic documents.

“I’m running out of space,” he said, pointing to several boxes in a corner.

Children’s Librarian Emily Martin would like to see an interactive display area and new technology.

“I’d like to see people of all backgrounds at the library, get people to feel they’re part of Westborough,” Adult Services Librarian Tracy Graham. “We want to be the heart of the community.”

Get updates on the project via https://www.westboroughlibrary.org/about/building-project/.

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