DATE: November 25, 2013
Holyoke Public Library Grandly Re-Opens
The Holyoke Public Library was anything but silent on November 22nd, as it celebrated its grand re-opening and ribbon cutting with live music, over a dozen speeches, refreshments, and tours of its beautiful new facilities. Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) Chairman Frank Murphy and Commissioner Mary Kronholm were on hand to give commemorative remarks, as well as Mayor Alex Morse, City Council President Kevin Jourdain, State Representative Aaron Vega, and Congressman Richard Neal, as well as other community members and library stakeholders.
Library Director María Pagán, accompanied by an interpreter who relayed her remarks in Spanish, was eager to welcome all in attendance to enjoy the new building. "It's your library. That means it's up to you to determine how to use it," she said.
Terry Plum, president of the library's board of directors, underscored the building's importance to the city and its role in Holyoke's past and present. "The new library brings together many of Holyoke's best aspects," he said. "It represents the history of Holyoke, but it also represents a tough, resilient city that is committed to moving forward."
The original building was completed in 1902, a unique example of neoclassical architecture made from Indiana limestone and hand crafted ceramic tiles. By the 1990s, it became clear that a renovation was required not only to counter the damage caused by a faulty drainage system but also to meet the needs of an evolving community that was rocketing towards the 21st century.
A team of consultants, staff, volunteers, and patrons collaborated alongside architects Finegold Alexander & Associates to transform the aging library. The existing 25,000 square foot building was fully renovated and extended, bringing the total area up to 41,773 square feet. Both a new children's area and a new teen space were added, in addition to new computers with wireless internet access, a much larger public meeting room, and dedicated places for quiet study.
As November 22nd marked the 50th year since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a number of speakers acknowledged the solemn anniversary but also emphasized Kennedy's support for public libraries. More than once, JFK's words "libraries should be open to all except the censor" were quoted to the crowd.
Photos of the celebration can be seen here, via the MBLC's Flickr page.
After a decade of preparatory work, the MBLC awarded Holyoke a Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) grant totaling $4,367,594 in 2010. The grant covered 30% of this $14.5 million project, which broke ground in November 2011. The project is also eligible for a MPLCP Green Library Incentive from the MBLC totaling $218,380. The Green Library Incentive helps libraries in the MPLCP build environmentally responsible LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
In addition to Holyoke, many new or renovated library buildings have recently held ribbon cuttings and re-openings throughout Massachusetts. Walpole, Westwood, Millis, East Boston, Foxborough, and Granby have all celebrated new buildings since April 2012. There are also library construction projects underway in Athol, Eastham, Edgartown, Everett, Framingham, Salisbury, South Hadley, Reading, West Springfield, and West Tisbury. Belmont, Shrewsbury, and Scituate are working to secure local funding for their projects by December 31, 2013. Nine communities are on a waiting list for funding.
For more information about the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, please visit the MBLC's website.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.