Hudson library seeks construction grant

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Hudson library seeks construction grant
Katrina Vieira looks for a book at the Hudson Public Library. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

HUDSON – Change may be on the horizon for the Hudson Public Library.

The library is applying for a grant through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program.

“As Hudson is growing, we need to grow with it,” said Board of Trustees Vice Chair Christopher Capobianco.

A shifting building

According to its website, the Hudson Public Library began to outgrow its space in Town Hall in 1903. Librarian Grace Whittemore talked with Andrew Carnegie, who in turn donated $12,500 for a new library.

The library was opened in its current home in 1905. The second story was added in 1929, and the two-story addition was added in 1966. According to Board of Trustees Chair Tom Desmond, it’s the addition that has been causing most of the issues.

An engineer had been brought in and conducted a static measurement, which Desmond said indicated that the building was shifting.

“That explained, finally, why we were having a lot of trouble over the years with window frames getting crooked, door frames getting crooked,” he said.

The engineer also conducted borings around the foundation and parking lot. Desmond said the library learned that when the foundation was put in, it was not properly tamped down.

“The building is shifting. There’s no longer any doubt or question that the building is shifting,” he said.

That fact alone would lead the library to this point of seeking a construction grant.

Additionally, the library has experienced two burst pipes – one located in the children’s room and the other in the staff room. Desmond said while there wasn’t a lot of damage to the collection, the burst pipe shut down the children’s room for about nine months. Plus, the staff room only recently came back online.

“The fact of the matter is that back building is one pipe burst away from another incident,” said Desmond.

Due to its age, the library lacks basic things that new libraries take for granted. According to Desmond, the library doesn’t have sufficient meeting or performing space. Teen space is limited.

Even if the building didn’t have these structural issues, Assistant Director Lisa Aucoin said the library is too small, which will be exacerbated as Hudson’s population increases.

“Libraries are going to change. They have changed. They’re going to continue to change, and we just don’t have the functionality to be what we would like to be, but our patrons want us to be,” Aucoin said.

Hudson library seeks construction grant
Work by engineers has indicated that the Hudson Public Library building is shifting. The shift can be slightly visible looking at the top of the bookshelves. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Requirements

The library submitted its letter of intent in April.

According to Library Director Aileen Sanchez-Himes, as part of the requirements, the library needs to secure about $60,000 for pre-planning funds, which she said includes some of the testing that has been conducted. She also said that a conditions assessment, which is also required, is in progress along with community engagement.

Sanchez-Himes said community members are concerned about where the library will be located. Desmond said they have to provide an option to build on-site, and, if that’s not feasible, they must provide another site.

“That’s really up to the state that determines what the application, what the costs will be, if there’s land available to build at a new site,” Sanchez-Himes said.

There are benefits to both a new location and the current site, she said. Sanchez-Himes said they were actively looking for a new location, but Desmond added that there were slim pickings in town.

As Capobianco described it, if the library doesn’t get the grant, the issues with the building will remain.

“This is our moment to get relief to do the construction. Otherwise, we’re going to be in for the whole whatever the price is if we don’t go now and get approved,” he said.

Hudson library seeks construction grant
The Hudson Public Library (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Public forums

During Town Meeting this spring, the library will be requesting $150,000 in capital funds for a planning and design phase that would be contingent upon receiving the grant.

In the meantime, there will be several community forums. A forum for seniors will be held at the Senior Center Feb. 5 at 11 a.m., for teens at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Hudson High School library and for parents and caregivers at the library on Feb. 6 at 11 a.m.

There will be forums for the general public in person at the library at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 and virtually at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 6.

 

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