We’ve compiled a list of questions that we believe helps our patrons and our community understand the impact and mission of the Woburn Public Library Foundation. We hope you find the frequently asked questions helpful and insightful.

Why do we need libraries
Why do we need to renovate our library?

Our library building was built in 1879 to serve a population of 13,000. Since then, the city of Woburn has grown to 38,000 residents. The building’s exterior and interior both require extensive work in order to keep the roof, windows, woodwork and other finishes from falling further into disrepair from 135 years of use. The building and its systems are old and inefficient and do not meet the current building codes for life safety, energy efficiency or accessibility for the physically challenged. In addition, the building requires technology upgrades to meet the needs of 21st century patrons.

Why do we need to expand our library?

It doesn’t all fit! Our collection of books, reference materials, magazines, DVDs, CDs and various archive materials has grown, but our space has not. A third of our non-fiction books are inaccessible to the public due to a lack of space. Young adults, children, quiet study, computer and community space are undersized for a city with our population. Equally importantly, the library building does not meet current building code standards for accessibility and safety. These issues of space and code cannot be satisfied in the current building without an addition.

Are libraries and books still relevant? Do people still use our library?

On a daily basis, more than 400 students, teachers, genealogical researchers, job-seekers, language-learners, businesses, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and visitors use our library, and many more access our online offerings, all to learn from the past, connect in the present, and build their futures. Last year total in-person visits to the Library topped 111,000!

People have adequate access to knowledge and information from home. Is the library needed?

The December 2013 Pew Research Center study reported 95 % of Americans ages 16 and older say that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed. The study also says that 58% of patrons consider internet and computer access at their library to be important and, according to the US 2011 Census, there may be several thousand of our residents who don’t have computers or internet access at home.

What will a renovated and expanded library do for our city and citizens?

More space, functionality, and building and safety code compliant facilities will provide our citizens the library they need to succeed. Education, culture and community in the 21st century require that a city library responsible for serving every child, woman, and man be equipped with the proper tools and space for all to learn, grow and connect. Our new library will give young adults and children their own spaces to explore and collaborate to achieve in today’s world. Adults and seniors will benefit from involvement with community programs and the opportunity to learn new technologies. The library is the heart of the community, the hub that connects and engages citizens with one another keeping both the citizens and the city vital and successful.

Has the Woburn Public Library been renovated or expanded before?

No. Never. The building is the same size as it was in 1879 when it was designed for a village of 13,000 people. While it has been retrofit to accommodate some advances such as the introduction of electric lighting over gas lighting and the addition of computers and computer wiring the library has not undergone any systematic renovation or expansion in 135 years.

Will the existing National Historic Building designed by Henry Hobson Richardson be torn down?

No. The building will not be torn down. The existing library will remain and the view of the lawn and library from Pleasant Street will not change. However, a small section of the addition will be seen behind the library.

Will the existing library building be altered?

Yes. It will be joined to the addition at a few carefully considered locations, thereby preserving almost the entire original library.

Why do we need a library the size of the proposed project? Can’t it be smaller?

Our 135-year old building does not have the space for the services and materials that today’s citizens want to learn, grow and connect. Additionally, the size is governed by the requirements of the Massachusetts’ Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). The MBLC has developed space standards to ensure parity of services provided to communities throughout the state based upon their populations, and sufficient space to accommodate changes in how we will use libraries decades into the future. Building a facility to the MBLC standards allows us to receive close to $10M in state grant money. Loss of state money would increase the amount of city’s contribution needed to fund the project.

How have other cities and towns funded library renovations and additions?

We are fortunate in Massachusetts that our state taxes fund a school construction program and a library construction program. Since 1990, the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) has awarded grants to more than 200 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth for construction of new library buildings and addition/renovations on the basis that the city or town fund the balance of the project. It is our state tax dollars that fund this program – let’s return some of our tax dollars to our community for our direct benefit.

How will Woburn fund the project?

The project will be funded by city, state, library trustee, and other private funds and we are encouraged by the progress that has been made to date. We have secured a commitment for nearly $10 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and over $ 3.7 million in trustee contributions and donations so far.

Have the Library Trustees or others done any fundraising to support the project?

Yes. The Trustees and library staff competed for and received a Massachusetts Library Building Construction Grant of close to $10 million. The Trustees have made available over $3 million in trustee funds and private donations. The Woburn Public Library Foundation has received and continues to seek private, corporate and foundation funding. The Friends of the Woburn Public Library and other supporters are also active fundraisers for the project. All remain committed to continue their fundraising efforts to reduce the cost to the city.

Will a modern looking addition fit in with the look of the original building?

Our project architect, the firm of Childs Bertman Tseckares (CBT) is an experienced Massachusetts firm with a proven track record of designing successful additions to historic buildings. They have worked on the expansion of the H. H. Richardson library in Quincy, the addition of the new wing of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and many other addition projects where old and new spaces must respect and complement one another. CBT’s extensive experience with historic reovation and addition projects reinforces our belief that the marriage of old and new spaces will be successfully executed with our library.

Why now?

From the elementary schools, to the new high school, from the Horn Pond water treatment facility to the library, Woburn takes pride in building, renovating and maintaining its civic buildings for the use and benefit of its citizens. Our leaders recognize the need to embrace the renovation and expansion project due to the lack of improvements over 135 years. They also recognize the needs of our diverse population, and the importance of a library in offering services to every one of those residents for their life-long learning, growth, and success.

What can you do to express your support for the project?

There are three things you can do which would help our effort enormously. They are:

  1. Tell all your friends
    1. Why you believe it is so important to complete the proposed renovation and expansion of the library as a community resource.
    2. To visit this video for an explanation of why our library and all libraries are needed and the role they play in our community.
  2. Make a gift to the Woburn Public Library Foundation
    1. Online: By going to the Ways to Give page and once there follow the directions for making a secure donation
    2. Mail: By making a check payable to The Woburn Public Library Foundation and mailing it to the Woburn Public Library Foundation, 7 Winn Street, Woburn, MA 01801.