The New Library FAQ

The New Library FAQ

What is the timeline for the project?

Construction started in October of 2019.  The estimated construction time was two years. Construction was paused in the Spring during the Covid-19 lockdown so completion is now scheduled for Fall 2021.

Are we changing locations?

The new building will be on the same site as the current building.  However, the library has moved into temporary quarters during the construction project.  We are in the basement at 200 Boston Avenue.  Click here for directions to the temporary location.

How can I donate to the project?

The Medford Public Library Foundation is running our capital campaign and handles all donations to the project.  For information visit email or call Holly Sargent at 617-230-1045.

Are we renovating this building or building a totally new one?

The plan is for a totally new building on the same site as the previous building.

How was the new building vs. renovation decision made?

As part of the grant process, our architect created two plans and estimates – one for a renovation and one for a new building.  The Building Committee was tasked with selecting one plan to submit with the grant.  The Committee met a number of times and discussed the pros and cons of each plan.  In the end, the Committee selected the new building plan.  A new building will maximize the use of space on the site, and will solve the current building’s problems with accessibility, noise, space, and design.  A renovation of the1959 building would have limited expansion on the site, and there were potentially significant structural issues due to the age of the building.  

What facilities will be available in the new library?

There will be lots of light and windows and comfortable seating everywhere. The building will be energy efficient and we expect to qualify for Silver LEED certification.  There will also be a landscaped park area on the Hillside Ave. side.  The various interior spaces will be adaptable so the building can meet the community’s needs over the next half century.  We projected our collection and seating needs based on a twenty year projection so there will be plenty of space to grow.  

The new building will be two full floors with separate second floor spaces designed for Children’ and Teens.  The Adult area on the first floor will offer a variety of seating areas, an expanded public computer area, a local history room, and small meeting and study rooms. The circulation and staff areas will also be expanded.

 The second floor will also house an auditorium, a makerspace, a tech lab, a cafe/lounge space and a gallery. The Children’s/Teen areas will share meeting rooms, a program room, storage and an office.  The Friends of the Library will also have their own dedicated room on the second floor.

 Will the parking be better?

Parking will be improved.  There will be an additional 13 spaces created in the rear parking lot, including two handicapped spaces and an electric car charging station.  The traffic pattern has been designed to slow cars moving through the lot and in general it will be much safer. The greatest improvement will be in terms of accessibility.  The grade of the lot will be adjusted so that the rear entrance opens directly onto the second floor at the elevator, so those who need handicapped access will be able to use both entrances.  It will also be easier for patrons with children and strollers to come in through the parking lot.

What is the construction grant all about?

In July 2017, the Library applied for a state library construction grant.  This grant is offered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners at irregular intervals.  The last grant round was 2004-05.  The grant funding covers a significant portion of the cost of construction.  There were 34 libraries applying for grants in this round, and Medford was one of nine libraries to be offered the grant.

 How much will the project cost and how will the project be funded?

The estimate for the new building was 34 million. However, when the bids came in much lower than anticipated so the final cost will be 27 million. We will be receiving 12.2 million from the state grant with another $400,000 to be awarded once the building receives LEED energy certification.  As of December 2020, the Medford Public Library Foundation has raised 5 million towards the project cost and continues to fundraise. The remaining funding will come from a city bond issue.

 Why is this project happening now when there are other city buildings that need improvement?

The state library construction grants are only made available once a decade or so.  The previous grant round was in 2004-05.  The grant covers a significant portion of the project cost, and we feel that it would be a disservice to the city if we did not take advantage of the program.  The previous building was old and worn and no longer meets community needs. If we did not apply in this round, it might be 10-12 years before the next opportunity.  

Why do we need a new building?

The previous building was built in 1959 and opened in 1960.  The structure was aging, there was not enough space for library operations, and there were serious issues with the roof. Moreover, the configuration of those facilities did not adequately serve Medford today.  The smaller second floor of the building could not be used for public services because it was not accessible, so all public and staff activities took place on the first floor.  The building was set into the side of the hill and the rear entrance involved a steep flight of stairs which made things very difficult for disabled patrons and patrons with small children and strollers.  There was no separation between the adult, teen and children’s spaces, creating noise issues for all users. Parking for the building was inadequate, and there was only one ADA accessible entrance/exit, which was not accessible after hours.  The facility only had one public meeting space which could not meet local demand. Medford needed more than the previous aged building could supply.