Webster Breaks Ground on New Library Building


April 28, 2017
Matthew Perry
Outreach Coordinator
1-800-952-7403 x208

On April 4, 2017, Webster residents, officials, and librarians gathered as they broke ground on construction of their brand new library. The project is funded in part by a $7,567,411 grant through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. This project has been 11 years in the making, starting in 2006 when the town undertook a library needs study. The library submitted a construction application to the MBLC in 2011, and was placed on the waiting list until they were awarded their grant in 2014.

The new 23,000 square foot space designed by Oudens Ello Architecture will replace the 7,000 square foot building built in 1920. It will have many new features not available in the old space, including extensive space for technology and mixed media, a local history room to allow research and to preserve town artifacts, an expanded children’s area and a section for young adults, a community room on the first floor for large gatherings and small study spaces on the second floor.

“Any day is a good day for a groundbreaking,” said MBLC building specialist Rosemary Waltos. “Together your efforts demonstrate the value you hold for the Webster Public Library. This library will be the jewel in the crown of Central Massachusetts Libraries.”

In addition to funding from the town and the MBLC, a robust fundraising effort has been undertaken by the library’s friends group, which has resulted in a $1 million donation from the Fels Family Foundation, a non-profit located in Webster run by Marilyn and Gerald Fels. Because of this generous donation, the library will be renamed in honor of Mrs. Fels mother Gladys E. Kelley, who was a longtime patron of the Corbin library. Mr. Fels said of the donation, “We want to make sure that any visit to the library is an enjoyable experience for Webster residents.”

The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) helps libraries across the Commonwealth meet the growing demand for library services with expanded and improved library facilities. Visits to public libraries have increased by more than 56% since 2000 as libraries evolve into the only remaining free community space that welcomes all residents. Technology in libraries has also become increasingly important. More than 27,000 people use the Internet every day in Massachusetts public libraries.

MPLCP library building projects are currently underway in Hopkinton, Leicester, Scituate, Sherborn, Stoughton, and Woburn. Communities with recently completed projects include Eastham, Edgartown, Framingham, Reading, Shrewsbury, and West Springfield.

Funding for the MPLCP is authorized by the governor and legislature. The MBLC is currently in the process of a new grant round. In January it received 33 applications from communities that want to renovate and/or expand their public library. The Board will vote on provisional grant awards to these communities in July.

The MPLCP was first funded in 1987. Since then, the program has assisted hundreds of communities in building new libraries or in renovating and expanding existing libraries. For more information about the program, please visit the MBLC's website.

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( 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.