MARLBOROUGH – On the main floor of the Walker Building, bookshelves bisect the hallways, and the public internet access stations cover part of an access way.
Books fill adjoining rooms – some for adults, some for teens, others for children.
There are a few chairs for the access stations, and two “comfy” chairs for those wishing to peruse the most recent editions of newspapers.
For nearly a year, that’s been the norm for the Marlborough Public Library, as it uses the Walker Building as a temporary space while construction proceeds at the West Main Street site.
In spite of the tight space, Library Director Margaret Cardello said staff continues to provide patrons with access to its collection.
That collection – 100,000 hardcover books, plus its e-resources – is available, and most of the collection is upstairs in the temporary library.
The way patrons may borrow materials is similar to what’s been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – make a request online, then a staff member will head upstairs to locate that request and place it on hold.
“People get used to ordering online. It’s another way to interact with the library,” said Janice Merk, a member of the library’s Board of Trustees and the Marlborough Public Library Foundation.
“We do the best with what we have,” she said.
The “new library”
Just down West Main Street, the “new” library is starting to take shape.
According to Cardello, the project is about 30% completed. The framework is now visible to passersby.
“People drive by. They see the shape,” she said.
She added that the project is not only on time, but on budget at $26,288,675, including a state grant of $10,186,626.
“The steel was ordered right away. It was the smart thing to do,” Cardello said.
According to Merk, construction workers have found some architectural treasures while renovating the original Carnegie building.
“It was an exciting discovery. They found a second fireplace and a vaulted ceiling,” she said, adding that both discoveries will be incorporated into the project.
Both Cardello and Merk credit city departments, including the Department of Public Works, for helping this project along.
When it’s completed in the spring of 2023, the library will feature a meeting space that can accommodate up to 200 people, smaller meeting rooms, individual study rooms, a new teen and young adult room, self-service stations for holds and checkout and more.
“We’ll have opportunities we’ve never had in the old building,” said Cardello.
She added that study rooms are among the top requests made by patrons.
“The library will be able to respond to the needs of the community,” she said.
“The library has become a community meeting place,” said Merk. “We serve a very diverse community.”
“It’s definitely an exciting time,” said Cardello. “The dream of a new library is becoming a reality.”
Merk said the library foundation has raised about $1.3 million toward its goal of $2 million for the capital campaign, which will help the library cover the costs of new computers, landscaping and more.
The foundation has been reaching out to residents and local businesses and it had a booth at the city’s Food Truck and Arts Festival.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Merk. “We’ll have a library that will serve the community for the next 100 years.”
Updates are available on the foundation’s Facebook page, facebook.com/Marlborough-Public-Library-Foundation-1945838102352797.
An overview of the project is available at https://www.marlborough-ma.gov/library/library-building-project.