And the answer is … Blog AND List

A few weeks ago, I asked our readers if this format was working for them, or if we should go back to the tried and true listserv. It became clear that while the blog is great for posts and links to articles about library planning/design/construction, people wanted grant-related announcements to come directly to their email box.

So we will continue the MPLCP blog for news and information about library buildings, and more business-y stuff will go out on the list. If you’d like to be subscribed to the list, send an email to

The Value of Improving Your Building

Library Journal has published an article about a San Francisco Public Library report documenting the ROI of their 14-year-old Branch Library Improvement Program.

The article is here:

…and the full SFPL report can be downloaded here: Reinvesting and Renewing for the 21st Century: A Community and Economic Benefits Study of San Francisco’s Branch Library Improvement Program

Blog or Something Else?

Hello, Massachusetts library construction fans. We have been publishing this blog for nearly two years — can you believe it? We’ve posted 52 times, which averages out to about one every two weeks.

We’d like to get some feedback on this format. Is it working for you? As we move into the 2016 construction grant round, posts will probably get more frequent. Is a blog the best way to do this? Would you rather go back to an email list? Or what about a newsletter, which combines elements of both?

Please comment on this post, or email me directly at


Got Architects?

If you are planning to apply for the upcoming construction grant round, you should ideally be well into your schematic design. Especially with the holiday season barreling down on us, time is getting tight; if you haven’t yet gone through the bidding process for selecting your architect, please get in touch with Rosemary or me. We may have some tips for getting you on track.

Don’t forget the Resource Guides. Whether you’re a librarian, an OPM or an architect, there’s information that can help.

Construction 2016 Resource Guide for librarians

Construction 2016 Resource Guide for architects and OPMs

Re-Think It

Re-Think It: Libraries for a New Age was a three day conference that I attended recently at the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids MI. Completed two years ago, this 150,000 sf LEED Platinum building was a real showpiece.

Much (though not all) of the program was aimed at academic libraries and academic librarians. I think we in public libraries have a lot to learn from the academy. Yes, they approach things differently: they are more cerebral, focused on research, pedagogy and process. But in many ways they are on a faster track than public libraries as far as digital technology and responsiveness to the future of information go. After all, one of their primary audiences is that 18-25 crowd that demands the latest and fastest.

The conference was much more theoretical and analytical that I am used to; public library events tend to be quite practical most of the time. I found myself really getting into the mindset though, and I learned a lot about ideas like Design Thinking and User Centered Design. I learned new words like “phygital” and GAFA [Google Amazon Facebook Apple]. Plus they have a Dematic materials retrieval system with two giant yellow cranes named Wall-E and Eve. Not everything is pedantic.

I must say it heartened me to see a short range of popular fiction – yes, in print format – in the café area of the library. Even with all of the maker technology and collaborative social spaces, there is still the demand for that Harlan Coben thriller in hardcover.

Look for more about some of these ideas in future posts, and if you’d like to see some photos of the library, go to my Pinterest board.

Reminder — Regulations hearing August 3

As many of you know, the MPLCP grant program is governed by state regulations. Each time we prepare for a new grant round, we review the regulations and update them as needed. This new round of amendments to the regulations is primarily to improve their organization and readability — removing some of the legal jargon and making the sections more consistent.

If you’d like to see the changes, they are available here in the current version and both redline and clean copies of the proposed version:

The hearing will be at 1:00 pm at the Perkins School for the Blind (175 N Beacon St, Watertown, MA‎), following the regular MBLC Board meeting. You can also make written comments in advance of the hearing to Dianne Carty, MBLC Director.


Public Hearing Notice

Attached is the hearing notice for the public hearing on August 6. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



Notice of Public Hearing


Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 30A, and Chapter 78, Sections 19A and 19B, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners will conduct a Public Hearing on August 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm at Perkins School for the Blind, 175 N. Beacon St., Watertown MA 02472. The purpose of the hearing is relative to amending regulation 605 CMR Library Improvement Program – Public Library Construction. The proposed amendments will simplify and clarify the language and organization of the regulation for easier readability and will remove space planning standards from the regulation.


Persons planning to give oral testimony at the hearings are urged to provide written summary in electronic form.  Please submit oral testimony, electronic summaries and written statements up until 4 p.m. on August 5, 2015, by mail, e-mail or fax to the address below:


Dianne Carty
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
98 North Washington Street, Suite 401
Boston, MA 02114-1933
1(617)725-1860 1(800)952-7403
FAX 1(617)725-0140


Copies of the proposed amended regulations are available at or by contacting Rachel Masse, Administrative Coordinator, at the above address and telephone number or at

By order of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Architects are ready and waiting

Yesterday, Rosemary and I had a meeting with architects from around the area. Fifteen architects, representing 12 firms, came to Cambridge to talk about the MPLCP process and the upcoming construction grant round.

Since I started working for the MBLC over two years ago, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to librarians and sometimes library trustees or building committee members. We talk to architects as needed about specific projects, but this is the first time we’ve had a formal sit-down with a group. It was great to see some experienced library architects, as well as a few newcomers. Fresh blood is a good thing, and all indications are that these people will be very busy in the next couple of years on MBLC grant projects, never mind their other work.

We talked about our process and expectations, and we talked about communication, and about those often frustrating state requirements. They asked some great questions, and Roe and I learned some new things too. We’ve gotten good feedback, and I think it was time well spent.

So, librarians, there are a bunch of architects out there who are ready and eager to bid on your projects! They will be watching the Central Register, and the sooner you get your project listed, the better your choices will be.