The Resilience of East Forest Park


February 06, 2020
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

On December 19, 2019 local and state officials joined neighbors and Springfield residents to celebrate the opening of the new East Forest Park Branch of the Springfield City Library. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno commended the resilience of the East Forest Park neighborhood that withstood a devastating tornado in 2011 and in the Mayor’s words ‘came back stronger.’

Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) Roland Ochsenbein called the library a testament to the strength of the community. The MBLC awarded the project a Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) grant totaling $4,906,115 for this $9.4 million project.

Senator Eric Lesser acknowledged the MBLC’s construction program and support for the project. He also spoke about the vital role libraries play in our society, “Libraries are about social justice and economic mobility,” he said. “They hold the key to power which is knowledge.”

Since 2000, the East Forest Park Branch had been housed in a refurbished video store. The new branch encompasses many of the needs residents expressed that they wanted to see in their new library. The new 17,000 square foot building boasts an expansive children’s room with furnishings that can be easily moved to create flexible space for programming. Teens also have their own space that features computers and comfortable seating. Everyone in the community will enjoy the MakerSpace, an area for residents to try hands-on activities like using a sewing machine or a 3D printer. The new community room is accessible after hours for meetings and events.

MPLCP grants provide crucial funding that enables public libraries to meet the growing and rapidly changing demand for services. Statewide, attendance at public library programs has increased 49% since 2006 and every 5.5 seconds a Massachusetts resident accesses the Internet through a public library. The MPLCP has benefitted more than 250 towns and cities in Massachusetts since its inception in 1987. Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program projects are currently underway in Boston, Dartmouth, Erving, Grafton, Hadley, Littleton, Marlborough, Medford, Norwell, Sharon, Sherborn, and Weymouth.

The MBLC is currently awaiting approval of $150 million in bond bill H4154 to support the construction program and is aiming to raise the annual capital budget for the MPLCP from $20 million to $25 million, which would shorten the time a waitlisted community waits for funding.

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.