Massachusetts Libraries Receive Prestigious Architectural Awards

The Woburn Public Library on a snowy night.
Woburn Public Library – Photo courtesy Andrea Bunker

By Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC

Public library buildings are civic hubs and as such, they are often designed to serve as enduring symbols of public good. They are opportunities to demonstrate community values in the built environment. The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program focuses on functionality and efficiency of library designs, but it’s a fact that inspiring and beautiful buildings are ones that people want to visit again and again.

For a library building, an architectural award is something to celebrate. This year, Massachusetts public libraries have received an unprecedented FIVE awards from the American Institute of Architects’ New England Chapter, and two of those buildings also received national recognition, receiving awards from the joint committee of the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association.

2021 AIA/ALA Building Awards

  • Boston Public Library – Roxbury Branch / Utile, Inc Architecture and Planning
  • Cambridge Public Library – Valente Branch / William Rawn Associates Architects

2021 AIA New England Design Awards

  • Best of the Boston Society of Architects
    • Woburn Public Library / CBT Architects
  • Honor Awards
    • Woburn Public Library / CBT Architects
    • Boston Public Library – Roxbury Branch / Utile, Inc Architecture and Planning
  • Merit Awards
    • King Open Schools Complex, which includes the Cambridge Public Library – Valente Branch / William Rawn Associates Architects
    • Eastham Public Library / Oudens Ello Architecture
  • Citation
    • Norwell Public Library / Oudens Ello Architecture

All of these buildings received funding from the MBLC through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, and we add our congratulations to all these libraries and their architects.

New Salem Public Library Offers Racial Justice Programming for Small Rural Communities

On Tuesday, November 9, New Salem Public Library offered its third program in a series on Racial Justice issues from a small, rural community perspective.  The 7 pm ZOOM presentation explored “What is Systemic Racism and How Do We Dismantle It.”

“Planning for the Racial Justice series began after the nationwide protests in the summer of 2020,” explained Library Trustee, Judy Northup-Bennett. “The Trustees wanted to examine more closely our country’s racial history and how our Northeastern rural communities fit into this story. We could no longer say that it’s a problem somewhere else. The Trustees decided to offer programs and book discussions to help people living in small, homogeneous towns better understand our roles in all of this.”

Alpana Chhibber of Molina Consulting helped participants understand the roots of systemic racism in our country, and how this led to the creation of segregated cities and towns. The presentation examined specific case studies which have had devastating effects on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) people as well long-lasting effects on White communities. Participants left the 1 ½ hour ZOOM presentation with a better understanding of how systemic racism has worked over the years as well as specific strategies for dismantling it that will empower them to make changes in their communities. The program is supported by a grant from the New Salem Academy.

Alpana Chhibber is a lead facilitator for Molina Consulting of Baltimore, offering national diversity, equity and inclusion training programs. She currently serves as the Middle School Dean of Students at the Park School of Baltimore. She received counseling and facilitator training from the Stanley King Institute, the Kingswood Oxford Leadership Institute for Educators of Color, and Facilitating for Racial Justice.  She has a BA from York College, PA, and Master degrees in Global Studies and Teaching from SUNY Albany and Union Graduate College.

This program will be followed on Monday, November 15 with a 7 pm ZOOM book discussion of “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson, author of “The Warmth of Other Suns.”  Wilkerson documents the political and economic systems in our nation since the first African slaves arrived in Virginia in 1619 that led to our 400-year caste stem.  She compares this to other historic caste systems.

For more information, visit the New Salem Public Library Facebook page.

Boston Celtics display original championship banners for first time in 26 years at Boston Public Library

Boston Celtics fans can take a step back through history with a visit to the Boston Public Library, where the 17-time NBA champions’ legendary original victory banners are out of storage and on display to the public for the first time in 26 years.

Read more from the Boston Herald

MBLC Celebrates the Boston Book Festival

We never stop learning. Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) ensures that all residents, no matter where they live, have equal access to library services that improve their lives, including free-to-all eBooks, audiobooks, reliable research databases and access to more than 53 million items. Libraries help people learn a language, figure out the latest technology, improve health and financial literacy, explore ancestry, become a citizen, or learn a new skill like beekeeping, creative writing or coding.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been working hard to keep access available to everyone even when they are unable to go into a library building. We created a map of libraries with Wi-Fi signals available outside of their buildings, funded a Wi-Fi hot-spot program for libraries across the Commonwealth, made a statewide calendar of virtual library events, and helped fund eBooks and audiobooks to get the books you want on your device quicker.

Are you a Massachusetts resident and want to get started using these resources? Find your local library to get a library card or sign up for a BPL Virtual eCard to get borrowing today!

The MBLC is a state government agency with statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate, and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth

After 18-month wait, Erving Public Library holds open house

After a year-and-a-half long delay, Erving finally celebrated the opening of its new public library with an open house Sunday. The open house invited the public to join key workers who helped bring the library to fruition for music, refreshments, a raffle and speeches.

Read more from the Greenfield Recorder

Decarbonizing Libraries: Two New Episodes of the Building Literacy Podcast

By Andrea Bunker, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC

The MBLC Construction Team recently released two new episodes of the Building Literacy podcast: Construction and Climate Change Legislation: A Conversation with Eric Friedman and Green Communities Grants and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Conversation with Joanne Bissetta and Catie Snyder. In Spring of 2021, Governor Baker signed into law “An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy” and signed “Executive Order No. 594: Leading By Example: Decarbonizing and Minimizing Environmental Impacts of State Government”, outlining aggressive fossil fuel reduction and increased energy efficiency goals for the Commonwealth at large and the State’s owned assets, respectively. In short, Massachusetts is working toward a net zero or carbon neutral future. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC- a body of the United Nations) recently published special report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius on August 9, these two episodes could not be more timely and their calls to action more important.

In “Construction and Climate Change Legislation: A Conversation with Eric Friedman”, learn more about the Commonwealth’s new legislation and Executive Order 594 with Eric Friedman, the Director of the Leading by Example Program, which is a division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. From a higher level perspective, he discusses what this new legislation means for our municipal libraries and how to reduce carbon emissions and plan for a clean energy future.

In Green Communities Grants and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Conversation with Joanne Bissetta and Catie Snyder, dig a little deeper into the resources, incentives, and grants that are available to the Commonwealth’s municipalities, and, in turn, libraries, to better position local governments in meeting the State’s ambitious energy goals with Joanne Bissetta, the Acting Director of the Green Communities Division, and Catie Snyder, the Deputy Director of the Leading by Example Program, both of whom are affiliated with the Department of Energy Resources. From lighting upgrades, envelope improvements, and HVAC replacement, to solar arrays and EV charging stations, to designated environmental justice communities, there are funding and incentive programs to help municipalities afford current and newly emerging technologies to decarbonize their buildings and vehicle fleets.

Both episodes also feature advice for how to continue the decarbonization conversation within the community focusing on how the library’s physical building and the library’s larger role as an educational institution can further the goals outlined by the Commonwealth. The one takeaway above all others from these conversations is that this work cannot take place in a vacuum. It requires action on behalf of everyone to mitigate the rising of our oceans and the warming of our planet. We hope you find your library’s tangible, feasible next steps within these episodes. As always, if you have any comments or questions about any of the information presented on Building Literacy or ideas for future episodes, please email Andrea Bunker at

The Hive Makerspace in Cambridge


On July 6, 2021, the Cambridge Public Library opened its brand new Hive Makerspace on the lower level of the Main Library. The library says, “The mission of The Hive is to provide free, hands-on STEAM learning opportunities to the Cambridge community, resources for personal projects, and to serve as a hub for skill sharing and creative collaboration.”

Read more about the Hive on the Cambridge Public Library website.

National Voter Registration Day: Sign Up Now to Partner!

By Michelle Eberle, Consultant at the Massachusetts Library System

The Massachusetts Library System and Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners are excited to share that we are collaborating on National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) for a second year. We encourage your library to participate, too!  Read on for the official announcement and invitation from the Assistant Director for State Advocacy for the American Library Association (ALA). Libraries can partner by hosting a virtual or in-person event for National Voter Registration Day, or publicizing NVRD social media copy and graphics.  National Voter Registration Day provides an excellent toolkit for organizations to support your voter engagement efforts. Please use the link below to register to help ALA track how many libraries partner for NVRD.  We hope that your library will take part in this important collaboration.

Official Invitation from ALA

I’m pleased to announce that ALA is once again a premier partner of National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), to be celebrated this year on September 28.

In recent years, hundreds of libraries across the country have participated in NVRD and registered thousands of voters for local, state, and national elections. We invite you to join us again this year by registering here:

By signing up, you’ll receive free resources and training opportunities to help you prepare. For academic libraries, NVRD offers the opportunity to connect with Campus Takeover, a student mobilizing effort that provides specialized resources and activities for college campuses.

Library workers are leaders in civic engagement. If you are registering voters or doing other types of voter engagement in the coming months, let ALA know! Please tag us on social media: @LibraryPolicy and #LibrariesEngageVoters.

Register for NVRD today:

Thank you.

Megan Cusick

Megan Murray Cusick, MLIS
Assistant Director, State Advocacy
Public Policy & Advocacy | American Library Association

Medford Public Library named 2021 EBSCO Solar Grant Winner

EBSCO Information Services selected its four 2021 EBSCO Solar Grant Winners.

Hazel Park District Library in Hazel Park, Michigan; Medford Public Library in Medford; College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin; and the Virgin Islands Montessori School in St, Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, will each receive an EBSCO Solar Grant to pay for the installation of a solar array. The grants offset the cost of installing solar panels and allow the libraries to reduce their electricity expenditures.

Read more from Wicked Local