Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program Blog

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.

This post was written by Lauren Stara on August 19, 2015

Apologies — August 6, not 3

So sorry — I hope nobody showed up yesterday at Perkins. Thanks to Sia Stewart who spotted the error.

(red in the face)

This post was written by Lauren Stara on August 4, 2015

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.


This post was written by Lauren Stara on July 31, 2015

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

This post was written by Lauren Stara on June 25, 2015

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.

This post was written by Lauren Stara on June 25, 2015

MBLC’s Gregor Trinkaus-Randall on WGBH

WGBH came to the MBLC offices to interview Gregor about BPL’s misplacement of art items. Good job, Gregor!

This post was written by Lauren Stara on June 12, 2015

MPLCP workshop for interested architects

Rosemary and I are planning a roundtable session for architects who are interested in bidding on MPLCP projects in the upcoming construction grant round. The session will be on Wednesday, June 24, 10:30 am at Cambridge Public Library.

If you know of any architects who want to learn about their role in the grant process, please make them aware.

Participants must contact me to register in advance:

Lauren Stara
617-725-1860 x245

This post was written by Lauren Stara on June 4, 2015

Flexibility in Library Design Webinar

Did you miss Flexibility in Library Design, or Agile Libraries that Evolve with You, that was presented by MBLC’s Library Building Specialist Lauren Stara and the Walpole Public Library’s Director Sal Genovese at the Massachusetts Public Library’s 2015 Annual Conference held in May? If so, you are in luck. This presentation has been adapted and is now available as a webinar. You can find it by visiting MBLC’s construction program resource guide page.

Whether you are thinking about refreshing your floorplan or are in the through of planning and design for a library building project, you need information and ideas about today’s library floorplans that can evolve and adapt to tomorrow’s needs. In Flexibility in Library Design the Lauren will challenge you to turn your thinking around about library space planning from what is best for the library to what is best for your library users. Using over a hundred slides as examples of what’s hot and what’s not in library interior design, she covers trends and concepts to show what flexibility means in the 21st century library. In a little more than an hour she will present ideas for

• Breaking down physical barriers created by yesterday’s typical service desks
• Minimizing the maze that seven high shelving arrangements make
• Replacing dated and worn furniture
• Enhancing opportunities for connection to the digital
• And more…

If you have any questions about the contents of this webinar, best practices in library design, or the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, please don’t hesitate to call us.

This post was written by Rosemary Waltos on May 26, 2015

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