Woburn Opens Spectacular New Library


March 25, 2019
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

On Saturday, March 16, 2019 the renovated and expanded Woburn Public Library opened to a crowd of nearly 3,000 residents. “This is the largest gathering I’ve ever seen at an opening,” said Lauren Stara, Library Building Consultant at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) which awarded a $9.9 million grant to this $33 million project.

Built in 1879 to serve a community of 13,000, the original library was the designed by noted 19th century architect H.H. Richardson and is a National Historic Landmark as well as a revered part of local history that is featured on the city’s seal. Woburn’s population has tripled since the library was built and the library has experienced dramatic increases in usage.  Nearly 265,000 patrons accessed the library's resources in FY2017, as compared to 134,819 in FY2007.

Former Library Director Kathleen O’Doherty, who along with former Director Andrea Bunker, Trustee President Richard Mahoney, and Owner’s Project Manager DTI, Inc., stewarded the project through the MBLC’s application process, the local funding approval, and the actual construction, remarked, “Woburn finally has the library it deserves. A library that honors its history while giving us the ability to provide 21st century library services that the entire community needs and can enjoy.”

The project, designed by CBT Architects and constructed by Consigli Construction Company, seamlessly connects the historic structure with the addition through a series of six openings, five of which are in the historic study hall. The original building’s ornate masonry can be seen through the new glass curtainwall. Every effort was made to restore the historic building to its grandeur including uncovering original paint colors and cleaning and restoring the notable artwork collection that was first exhibited in the library in 1879. Many of the pieces were donated by Charles Winn. The Winn family also donated the land and funding that made the first Woburn Public Library possible. In that same tradition of giving, community members and local businesses, through donations to the Trustees, the Friends of the Library, and the Woburn Public Library Foundation, supported the renovation and expansion of the Richardson building.

Perhaps the most anticipated part of the addition is the new children’s room. Prior to the project, children’s services were limited to a cramped basement room with low ceilings and no natural light. The new space provides a programming and craft area as well as spaces for families to sit quietly and enjoy a book together and room for kids to play and explore. Located on the same floor as the children’s room, is a large multipurpose community room that can be used after hours. The library also has a dynamic teen room.

One of the most progressive features of the new library is the makerspace. Open to all ages and interests, a makerspace is a collaborative work space for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools. For kids, the space facilitates the learning of critical skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Makerspaces are also used as incubators and accelerators for business startups. Libraries across the nation are including makerspaces because they give all users access to materials, technology, resources and expertise that in many cases would otherwise be unavailable.

The new library meets Americans with Disabilities Act mandates and will qualify for additional funding from the MBLC’s Green Library Incentive when it attains LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Woburn’s $9.9 million grant was funded through the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). Funding for this program is authorized by the governor and state legislature. The MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then, it has helped hundreds of communities build, renovate and/or expand their public libraries. MPLCP projects are currently underway in Erving, Monterey, North Dartmouth, Leicester, Sherborn, Springfield, and Weymouth.

The MBLC is currently seeking a new $250 million bond authorization to continue this successful program. The new bond will fund the 18 projects that are currently on the MPLCP waitlist, a Planning and Design Grant Round and a new Construction Grant Round. 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.