Frequently Asked Questions

WHY DOES BELMONT NEED A NEW LIBRARY?

The current Belmont Public Library, built in 1965, is the center of our community—our town square—an essential resource that serves the needs of all of Belmont’s resident. The Library is not simply a place from which books are borrowed, it is a space for hosting cultural events and meetings, it provides a place to study and socialize, and it offers a wide range of programming that enriches the lives of all Belmont residents. The current library building, with an aging infrastructure, extensive space constraints, and inflexible spaces, is no longer adequate to meet the current or future needs of Belmont’s residents.

INFRASTRUCTURE-RELATED ISSUES AT THE LIBRARY

The Library building’s mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems are outdated, inefficient, and have reached the end of their useful lives. They require extensive maintenance by the Town and will require even more in the coming years. In 2016, the Town commissioned a building feasibility study. This study concluded that the floors of the Library do not meet the current code for live load book stacks. The masonry exterior of the building does not meet current seismic standards, and the “sagging,” unusable, and unfixable main steps, which are due to the settlement of a man-made earthen berm, are the first image encountered by library visitors. The current sprinkler/fire amelioration system needs extensive updates and there are considerable ADA compliance issues, such as an elevator that cannot accommodate motorized wheelchairs, and limited access to some stacks and most of the bathrooms for patrons with disabilities.

There have been no major renovations to the Belmont Public Library since the building was opened in 1965 and addressing all of the building’s structural, design, and system deficiencies would result in a significant loss of usable space. If all necessary renovations and upgrades were completed on the existing building, even over a span of several years, ADA compliance requirements would be triggered, leading to extensive compulsory updates.

It is likely that costly maintenance is forthcoming. Repairs and minimal updates will keep the building operable, but will not address the inadequacies and limitations of the building. The Library building does not meet the needs of the community.

The current building is simply too small and too inflexible to meet Belmont’s resource and programmatic needs. Libraries are no longer quiet buildings with row upon row of books and an occasional desk or table. Modern libraries contain a wide variety of resources, including books, periodicals, digital media, computers, electronic readers, 3-D printers, “libraries of things,” and much more. 21st century libraries must have flexible spaces that accommodate a broad spectrum of materials, services, and programs.

In addition to its place as the Town’s resource center, the Belmont Public Library is an important cultural and community center, hosting a wide range of performances and lectures and providing a place for patrons to read, work, study, receive tutoring, and utilize computers and other technology. Innovative programming and services that address the community’s needs require flexible, adaptable spaces. The current building has been utilized and re-organized to the greatest extent possible, but it’s not enough. With the 10th largest circulation numbers in Massachusetts (three years running), 254,33 visitors in FY 2019, and 772 programs and events attended by more than 18,084 adults, teens, and children, it is not surprising that the Belmont Public Library’s space and programmatic needs cannot be met within the confines of the current building.

PROGRAMMATIC SPACE NEEDS AT THE LIBRARY

The Belmont Public Library offers a wealth of resources and services, and demand for these services has risen every year. In FY 2019, the Belmont Public Library had the 10th largest circulation numbers in Massachusetts, 254,833 visitors, and a total circulation number of more than 600,000 On top of that, more than 18,000 children, teens, and adults attended 772 events.

While library staff have done a great job utilizing the limited, inflexible spaces in the current building, the FY 2019 library usage numbers, combined with the 2016 building feasibility study report, illustrate key areas where programing space should be “right sized” or expanded so the needs of the community can be adequately met.

In response to space and programmatic needs, the schematic designs for the new library include:

A larger children’s room with designated programming space – One of the most highly utilized spaces in the Library is the Children’s Room and many of the most successful Library programs are those for children and their caregivers. Unfortunately, the size of the current Children’s Room is insufficient for Belmont’s growing youth population and the room’s layout and amenities are less than ideal for the Library’s youngest patrons. The Library has worked with the MBLC (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) in an effort to make the Children’s Room compatible with current space and programmatic needs, however the MBLC agrees that the limited children’s room space has been effectively utilized and has no additional recommendations for how to more efficiently use the space.

Schematic designs for the new Library include a larger Children’s Room that has:

  • Designated programming space, with necessary facilities for running successful programs. i.e. sinks for arts and crafts programs
  • Sufficient seating space for storytimes
  • A nursing room
  • Designated quiet play areas
  • Technology services spaces
  • An outdoor “classroom” area

Expansion and improvements to the Children’s Room, as detailed in the schematic design, will enable the Library to adequately accommodate Belmont’s youngest patrons and to provide appropriate resources, programs, and services.

Individual study areas – There is extremely limited distinct space for people to study in the current building. There are a handful of stand-alone desks and there are often people waiting to take advantage of any empty area. This is particularly obvious during after school hours, when many students walk from the high school and middle school to complete homework and to study at the Library. Schematic designs for the new Library include an increase in individual study areas throughout the building.

Small-group study/meeting spaces – There is a great need in town for spaces for groups of citizens, students, and organizations to gather for meetings, to work, and to participate in study sessions. With only two meeting spaces available at the Library, and priority rightly going to library programming, it is extremely difficult to procure a meeting or small group study spot. Groups routinely use the tables throughout the Library, but this often leads to unintentional noise issues and sub-optimal seating situations. Schematic designs for the new Library include eight study rooms, three designated meeting rooms, and other library rooms that can serve as meeting spaces.

Multi-purpose community room with after-hours access – All meeting and event space is at a premium in Belmont. When the Library needs to hold an event that deviates from the usual operating times, there is no way to secure the site and keep event attendees in one area. Schematic designs for the new Library include a multi-purpose event room, with after-hours capability, adjacent restrooms and workrooms, and designated entry and exit points. This ensures that events can be held at times when the Library is not open and will not require that unused portions of the Library be staffed. This space can be utilized not only for Library programs, but also for events held by community organizations and outside groups and, if rental fees are charged, could serve as a potential revenue source.

Additional computer/technology work areas – Town residents rely heavily on the Library’s technology services. Patrons come to the Library to use computers, access Wi-Fi, make copies, learn how to use 3-D printers, utilize databases, take coding and programming classes, and much more. Due to limited computers and available work areas in the building, there is often a lengthy wait to access technology services. Schematic designs for the new Library include additional technology workspaces and additional individual study/work areas for patrons who bring laptops or other electronics to use while at the Library.

Technology/Maker Space/Digital Lab Space for technology instruction and experiential learning – A 21st century library provides services that don’t come solely from books. Libraries offer programs that teach patrons how to utilize technology, supplement curriculum, and learn new technology-related skills. Many technology-focused events offered at the Library are filled as soon as programming schedules are announced and, unfortunately, many patrons do not make it off wait lists. Schematic designs for the new Library include designated technology instruction space, a digital media lab, and a maker space. These improved spaces for technology programming will increase the number of technology-focused programming and events that the Library can offer and will ensure that Library patrons have access to current technology for work, education, and life-long skill advancement.

A larger young adult area/teen space – Space in the Young Adult Room is extremely limited. With only three tables and the smallest book stacks of any area within the Library, not to mention no quiet study or collaborative workspaces, it is a less than ideal place for Belmont’s teens to come after school to do homework or to collaborate on group projects.

Studying doesn’t end at the end of the school day and teens need a safe, supervised place to complete their work and to take advantage of the fantastic young adult programming and services provided by the library. There have been minor renovations to the space, which has resulted in modest improvements, but the fundamental needs of Belmont’s young adult population are not met in the current space.

Schematic designs for the new Library include a Young Adult Room that adequately accommodates the number of teens who routinely visit the Library. The room will have plentiful seating and study spaces available and will be flexible enough to be used for teen-specific programming when needed. The teen space will be located in close proximity to the maker space, the digital media lab, a recording studio, and film/editing areas, where Belmont’s students will acquire skills for school, employment, and beyond.

Outdoor areas that can be used as an extension of the Library – There is a wonderful landscape outside the Library’s doors, but it has not been utilized as an integral part of the Library. In the new Library designs, the outdoor area in re-imagined as program space, meeting space, and reading/quiet space.

Belmont Public Library programs are immensely popular, from author programs, to tai chi classes, to children’s programs and movie nights. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly difficult to find space to hold programs and to accommodate the number of patrons that want to participate in scheduled programs. This is most evident with children’s events, where it is not uncommon for programs to reach fire code capacity – approximately 135 in the library’s largest meeting space.

As a result of overcrowding, the library been unable to hold some programs and has been forced to host some of its most popular programs off site. Relocating programs is logistically difficult and finding large event/meeting spaces within Belmont in extremely challenging. This lack of space limits the type of programming library staff can propose, therefore limiting the variety of programs available to the community.

CHANGING ROLE/USES OF THE LIBRARY

The role of the public library has expanded, not diminished, in the digital age. Libraries are evolving to meet the new needs of the community. A 2016 Pew Research Center Survey and corresponding report found that “53% of Millennials say they used a library in the previous 12 months.” It is worth noting that the survey asked for “public library use,” not “academic library use.” Millennials, those aged 18-35 when the report was completed, were raised in the “Digital Age,” yet they are among the largest group of library patrons.

The Belmont Public Library is thriving in the Digital Age. It serves ALL members of the Town, covering all ages and demographic profiles. As an institution that touches all groups, the Library is uniquely poised to cultivate materials and provide programming that reflect the Town’s interests and needs. For example:

Literacy Programs – From storytimes to music programs to preschool fairs to summer reading programs, the Library gives children a place to start their literacy journey– to read, think, and explore.

Age and Interest-Specific Programming – From teen services such as the Girls who Code programs, Homework and Hot Chocolate sessions, and LGBTQ drop-in meetings, to adult programming like book clubs, knitting groups, author discussions, and technology training, to senior services such as homebound delivery and senior-specific technology training, the Belmont Public Library hosts programs that interest and positively impact resident of all ages.

Circulation Materials Beyond Books & Periodicals – People still want a robust collection of books and periodicals at their library, but they also expect to have other resources available. In addition to books, the Belmont Public Library offers extensive music and movie collections, e-books, e-audiobooks, music, and film downloads, and searchable databases like lynda.com for video tutorials on business and technology, Gale-Cengage for Massachusetts legal forms, and Vocations and Careers Collection, to name a few. The list of resources, both hard-copy and electronic, provided by the Library grows daily.

Technology Services Inside and Outside the Library – While at the Library, patrons can access computers or connect to Wi-Fi on their own device. If patrons need instruction on available technology or on how to access electronic circulation materials, one-on-one technical training is available. In addition, laptops, kindles, rokus, and phone chargers are available for check out, so that patrons can bring technology into their homes.

Space for Social & Community Engagement – Libraries are often the center of social and community engagement, providing a safe place for people to work, study, attend music programs, and engage with other community members.

Evolving Programs that Address Community Needs –Library programming is constantly changing to reflect the needs of the community. Recent Belmont Public Library programmatic additions include: English Language Learning Conversation and Book Groups, Sensory Storytimes for children with autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration issues and other developmental delays, and computer programming classes for middle and high school students.

According to a 2017 Brookings report on Building Healthy Neighborhoods, “Libraries help local people figure out the complexities of life, from navigating the health system to helping those with housing needs.” The Belmont Public Library partners with organizations throughout the town to provide educational programming and meeting space to directly address community needs.

Librarians –Belmont Public Library librarians answered 29,754 reference questions in FY 2019. There is an amazing and dedicated staff at the Library, and they are always poised to assist patrons and to develop engaging and enriching Library programs.

Source of Wellness Programming – Library programs fulfill a wide-array of patron needs — everything from tai chi classes to healthy eating workshops, to mindfulness and meditation workshops, to the successful Be-Well Series.

Library patrons can stop by to pick up a book, and stay to learn a new skill, receive technology training, take a meditation course, search job databases. and so much more. It may be the digital age, but libraries play an even more important role in the lives of community members now than they ever have.

The Belmont Public Library is the hub of the community, a place that welcomes people of all ages, backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and interests. The Library is not only a resource center, providing access to books, digital media, computers, and more, but also an event and programming center – hosting a wide-range of performances, lectures, and author talks. The Library offers programming from coding classes for teens, to language and writing workshops, to musical performances, to ELL conversation groups, to storytimes for the youngest Belmont Public Library patrons, all with a focus on meeting the needs of the community. The Library is a gathering place for clubs and organizations and Library staff works closely and collaboratively with town government, the Beech Street Center, the school department, civic groups, and community organizations to provide meeting space, to hold joint events, and to run programs that complement Town initiatives and priorities.

MEETING BELMONT’S NEED FOR A NEW LIBRARY

PARTNERS IN THE LIBRARY PROJECT

The Library Project partners include the Belmont community, who have provide ideas, voiced their desire for a new library, and whose support is essential as the Library Project moves forward, the Library Building Committee, the Library Board of Trustees, Belmont Public Library staff and administrators, the Owner’s Project Manager (Daedalus Projects), the Architecture firm (Oudens Ello), the Belmont Library Foundation (BLF), and the Friends of the Belmont Public Library (FOBPL).

The Library Building Committee members are:

Clair Colburn, Chair
Madeline Fraser Cook
Steve Dorrance, Director
, Town Facilities Department
Steve Engler
Jenny Fallon
Marcie Schorr Hirsch
Kathy Keohane
, Library Trustee Chair
Sally Martin, Treasurer
Bart Nelson
Robert McLaughlin
Stephan Sala, Secretary
Robert Schafer
Peter Struzziero, Director, Belmont Public Library
Heli Tomford

In 2016, the Town commissioned a feasibility study at the request of the Library Trustees. The feasibility study concluded that a new library building would most effectively meet the Town’s library needs, as the current building is a poor candidate for renovation.

The recommendation for a new library building was brought to the Board of Selectmen and the Financial Task Force who supported the establishment of a Library Building Committee. After overwhelming authorization from Town Meeting, the Town Moderator appointed the Library Building Committee (LBC) at the end of 2017. The LBC is an all-volunteer, temporary committee. The chair of the LBC is an architect with experience designing public libraries, and members of the LBC have vast experience with Belmont building projects, town government, Belmont’s sustainability goals, engineering, and construction.

The LBC oversees and advises on all stages of the Library Project from hiring the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) and the architecture team, to holding community meetings, developing the building design, creating construction documents, and managing the construction process.

The Board of Library Trustees are elected by Belmont’s citizens to provide oversight of the Library. The Trustees are responsible for hiring and evaluating the Library Director, establishing and reviewing Library policies, approving expenditures, advising on community needs, speaking as advocates for the Library, and acting as liaisons to the Select Board. The Library Trustees are closely involved with the Library Project and Trustee Chair Kathy Keohane is a member of the Library Building Committee.

A non-profit organization, the Friends of the Belmont Public Library provides financial support to the Library for key programs and activities. Funds from membership donations and the annual used book sale pay for passes to local museums, young adult and children’s programs, author and music series, the One Book One Belmont community event, as well as other important gifts to the Library. The Friends also organize volunteers to help with library activities.

The Belmont Library Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, was formed to undertake promotional and fundraising activities for the Belmont Public Library, including support for the Library Project and creation of an endowment to fund ongoing Library needs.

The Belmont Library Foundation is leading the effort to raise private funds for a new Library, and will soon launch a formal Library Project capital campaign. In partnership with the Belmont Public Library administration, the Library Board of Trustees, and the Friends of the Belmont Public Library, the Belmont Library Foundation encourages continued and increased support of the Belmont Public Library as a valuable community resource.

The Library Building Committee selected Daedalus Projects, Inc. to serve as the Owner’s Project Manager for the Library Project in June 2018. The Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) provides project management guidance throughout the life of the project. Massachusetts General Law (MGL) requires that an OPM is contracted for any public building project where services are estimated to exceed $1.5 million. The duties of the OPM include, but are not limited to: providing advice and consultation with respect to design, value engineering, scope of work, and cost estimating; general contractor and subcontractor prequalification; scheduling, construction, and the selection and negotiation with, and oversight of, a designer and a general contractor for the project; and ensuring the preparation of time schedules, and assisting in project evaluations.

The Library Building Committee and the Owner’s Project Manager (Daedalus Projects) selected Oudens Ello as the Project Design Team in November 2018.

Oudens Ello Architecture is a design firm specializing in cultural, academic, and commercial projects. The Boston-based office is comprised of a team of experts skilled at creating innovative architectural solutions and has worked on 12 public library projects in Massachusetts. As architects committed to a sustainable future, Oudens Ello Architecture carefully considers every project with respect to its impact on the natural environment with the belief that “green building” is an integral part of responsible design. Oudens Ello won the 2017 AIA New England Merit Award for the Scituate Town Library and the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for the Eastham Public Library.

Members of the Library Project have shared building designs and program goals with the building program committee of the MBLC. The MBLC provided feedback and suggestions, many of which are reflected in the building design.

At this time, state funds are not available through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for the Belmont Library Project. The most recent library construction grants were awarded in 2016 and nine projects were awarded provisional grants. 24 library projects were placed on a waitlist. The last of these waitlisted projects will likely reach completion in 2033. With this timeline, if there is another MBLC grant round, the earliest Belmont could be accepted into the grant program would be 2028/29, with funding between 2035 and 2045. Between now and 2045, the Belmont Public Library building will need extensive maintenance and renovations. The money to pay for these updates will not be covered by the state.

In addition, when a town or city submits a grant request to the MBLC, they are required to adhere to specific processes and programming space requirements in the designs for a new library. When Belmont entered into this process in the past, the library building that the MBLC deemed appropriate for the town was significantly larger than the building currently proposed, and would have necessitated a move from the current site.

It is for these reasons that the Belmont Library Foundation is commencing a capital campaign to support the construction of the new library. The goal is to offset project costs as much as possible through donations from individuals, families, foundations, and corporations.

Since the Library Project commenced, there have been five community meetings, two wide-reaching community surveys, children’s programming events focused on design, young adult focus groups, and more than 60 meeting with town government groups and organizations. In addition, all LBC and Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public and community members are encouraged to attend and give feedback on any stage of the Library Project.

LIBRARY DESIGN

The Library will be a new building. The 2016 feasibility study concluded that the current building is a poor candidate for renovation, as required repairs and updates would be extremely costly and would reduce usable space, yet fail to provide appropriate space for both current and future use.

The Library Project schematic designs, available at www.belmontlibraryproject.com, were derived from the feasibility study, input from the community in various formats: public forums, online surveys, etc., and the Library Building Committee’s work since 2017. Guiding principles for the design include the use of the library as a community space, creation of spaces that are accessible and open to all, flexible spaces that serve multiple purposes, an abundance of natural light, a highly sustainable building envelope and building systems, a building site that’s integrated with the landscape and that takes advantage of solar energy, and maximum cost efficiency.

The new Library will be built on the same site as the current library. Concord Avenue is undergoing an exciting rejuvenation with the new Underwood Pool, the Armenian Studies and Research Center, the intergenerational path, the new Belmont Middle and High School, and possibly a new skating rink. Keeping Belmont’s library in its current, easily accessible space will add to the incredible education/recreation corridor of Concord Avenue.

The current Belmont Public Library building is approximately 29,500 sf. The new Library will be 41,500 sf. This increase in size will be accomplished on the same site as the current building. The size of the building is based on space and programmatic needs detailed in the feasibility study report, as well as subsequent studies that outline the space requirements necessary for the building to be “right sized” to adequately house resources and to support programming. To view the 2016 feasibility study, visit www.belmontlibraryproject.com.

Specifics of the new Library design include:

  • A two-story building with a brick and glass facade of approximately 41,500 sf
  • Ground-level entry from Concord Avenue
  • External Veterans Memorial
  •  Sustainable, energy-efficient design, including rooftop PV, daylighting, and a highly insulated building envelope
  •  Main area with views through the site, circulation desk, and main stair area which can be used to gather, read, and serve as program seating
  •  A children’s room with views out to the “golden bowl” and pool, a dedicated story time/project room, plentiful stroller parking, and a controlled outdoor area
  • A second floor with various seating options – laptop bar, soft seating and outdoor seating etc. in the main reading room
  • Additional space for books, movies, music, technology, and other materials
  • A larger young adult area
  • A maker space, technology room, and digital media lab
  • A multi-purpose meeting/community room with after-hours access
  •  Quiet individual study areas
  • Group study/collaboration rooms
  • A Belmont History wing with both the Claflin Room and the Belmont Room
  •  Designated Friends of the Belmont Public Library book sale and sorting area
  • Outdoor areas for use as classroom space, event space, and general green space

Building designs are available at www.belmontlibraryproject.com.

The library at the new Belmont Middle and High School will be a great improvement over the existing BHS library, however school libraries exists to support the academic needs of the school’s students and are only open to students during school hours, not on nights or weekends, vacation weeks, or the summer months.

The materials, resources, and programs available for young adult patrons of the Belmont Public Library are far more encompassing and available to ALL of Belmont’s young adults– those that attend BHS, those that are homeschooled, and those that attend private schools. While the updated school library at the Belmont Middle and High School will be a wonderful addition to the Belmont Public Schools, it in no way negates the need for a 21st century library that provides appropriate resources and services for all of Belmont’s young adults.

The Library Building Committee worked closely with the Library Project design team, the Belmont Energy Commission, and environmentally focused town groups, to ensure that the new library is working towards Belmont’s energy goals. Exciting sustainability features of the new library include:

  • A south facing solar photovoltaic (PV) array
  • Rooftop mechanical with generator
  • All-electric, net-zero-ready systems
  • A highly insulated building envelope
  • Glazing/glass under 40%
  • Daylighting – window and skylight placement to maximize effective internal lighting
  • A green roof opportunity
  • Stormwater management systems
  • A rain garden filtration system
  • Native vegetation
  • Car charging stations

The Woodland Gardens are incorporated into the design of the new Library. The Gardens will continue to be an integral and prominent element of the Library’s overall landscape design.

In accordance with the Wetlands Protection Act (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 13, Section 40) and with input from Belmont’s Conservation Commission, the landscape design team has created a landscape plan that incorporates storm-water gardens that filter rain water from the parking lot and roof and feed that water back into the Wellington Brook. In addition,  landscape architects are working to incorporate waterway concerns into their designs and to do their part to maintain Belmont’s waterways and help mitigate flooding from the Wellington Brook.

The LBC worked with Veterans’ Services to come up with a plan for a veterans’ remembrance area in the new building. In the new Library, the main external entrance area will be dedicated to Belmont’s veterans with a new memorial and mural. The existing memorial plaques will be kept on display in the Library’s historical wing.

Schematic design includes a meeting space that will accommodate larger groups than the 125-person capacity of the largest meeting room in the current Library. This space will have an adjacent food preparation area and restrooms. The meeting area will be self-contained and can be closed off to the rest of the Library and operational when the Library is closed to patrons.

The new Library will have an “historical wing” where the Claflin Room and the Belmont History room are side-by-side.

There will be a dedicated space in the new Library, furnished with tables and chairs, where patrons will be able to eat, drink, and converse.

There will be approximately 44 parking spaces for the new building. This is the same number as are currently available for staff and library patrons. The High School Building Committee and LBC have been strategizing together on the possibility of providing shared parking across the street.

The new Library will be 100% in compliance with ADA building codes and will be universally accessible.

The Library Project recently completed the Schematic Design Phase. The phases of a building project include:

Feasibility Study. Prepared by an architect, the feasibility study in an in-depth analysis of existing building conditions, building space usage, a structural review, zoning analysis, and site and landscape examination, including parking options. In addition, the feasibility study offers analysis of available construction possibilities (renovation, addition with renovation, or new construction) for a site. This phase was completed in early 2017.

Conceptual Design. – Based on the project feasibility study and still an early phase of the design process, conceptual designs detail construction options and define parameters of a building project. The design team synthesizes and incorporates information gathered from the building committee, library staff, community members, and town-wide survey participants and turns ideas into design renderings. Conceptual designs serve as a starting point for specifics of the project, including room size, lay-out, programmatic space allocations, and other design features.

Schematic Design. Based on approved conceptual designs, the schematic design establishes the scope, budget and schedule for the building project. The schematic design details exterior and interior design, room lay-out, building systems, sustainability goals and programmatic building space. In addition, the schematic design details project costs, including design and OPM fees, construction costs, landscape expenses, and other project-related costs such as furniture and equipment. This was finalized for the Library Project in November 2019. These designs are available at www.belmontlibraryproject.com.

Design Development. During the design development phase, building materials are chosen and technical specifications for engineering and construction are finalized in order to generate construction drawings, models, and documents. This phase will occur after fundraising is complete and the Town approves raising the balance of funds to construct a new building.

PROJECT TIMELINE AND PROCESS

The current schedule for the Library Project is:

Feasibility Study Completed May 2016
Library Building Committee Appointed January 2018
Owner’s Project Manager Hired June 2018
Architecture Firm Hired November 2018
Schematic Design Completed November 2019
Capital Campaign Begins November 2019
Project Funding Secured November 2022 (tentative)
Building Design Finalized November 2023 (tentative)
Building Construction 2024 (tentative)
New Library Opens 2026 (tentative)

During construction, materials will be house off-site in temporary space and programs will be held at other community locations.

There are significant infrastructure and space-constraint problems with the current Belmont Public Library building. These problems must be addressed now. The Town can continue to fix infrastructure problems, like building systems that are at the end of their useful lives, as they arise and do minimal repairs and updates to the building, but that will not ameliorate the larger problem; with its limited and inflexible space, the current Library does not adequately address the needs of the community. Additionally, repairing large building issues will trigger the need to bring the entire building into ADA compliance.

The Library is a community knowledge hub. Patrons turn to the Library not only for books, periodicals, and reference materials, but for a place to learn, to experience, to congregate, to interact, and to take part in community activities. With limited space and an inflexible lay-out, the Library building does not have the capacity to continue to meet the community’s changing needs. Every space is being utilized, yet programs and materials are limited due to the physical constraints of the building.

Demolition and construction of the new Library will begin shortly after construction bids are received.

The new Library will open approximately three years after funding has been secured at the town level. These three years include one year for design development and two years for building construction.

PROJECT COSTS & FUNDING

The Library Building Project cost is $35.2 million, based on a 2024 construction date. This amount includes three+ years of predicted construction escalation costs.

The Belmont Library Foundation has kicked off the first phase of a Capital Campaign to raise private funds for the Library Project, following the “public/private partnership” model established through the original Henry Underwood library gift over 100 years ago. The Foundation’s goal is to offset as much of the project cost as possible through donations from major benefactors and others throughout the Belmont community.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the Select Board will propose a Warrant on the Town Meeting agenda. Town Meeting members will then vote on including a debt-exclusion question, to fund the remainder of the Library, on an upcoming ballot. If the Town votes to fund the Library Project, the new Library will become a reality.

The Belmont Library Foundation, a Massachusetts 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, was formed to undertake promotional and fundraising activities for the Belmont Public Library, including support for the Library Project and creation of an endowment to fund ongoing library needs.

The Belmont Library Foundation is leading the effort to raise private funds for a new building, and is presently launching a capital campaign. In partnership with the Belmont Public Library administration, the Library Board of Trustees, and the Friends of the Belmont Public Library, the Library Foundation encourages continued and increased support of the Belmont Public Library as a valuable community resource.

At this time, state funds are not available through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for the Belmont Library Project. The most recent library construction grants were awarded in 2016 and nine projects were awarded provisional grants. 24 library projects were placed on a waitlist. The last of these waitlisted projects will likely reach completion in 2033. With this timeline, if there is another MBLC grant round, the earliest Belmont could be accepted into the grant program would be 2028/29, with funding between 2035 and 2045. Between now and 2045, the Belmont Public Library building will need extensive maintenance and renovations. The money to pay for these updates will not be covered by the state.

In addition, when a town or city submits a grant request to the MBLC, they are required to adhere to specific processes and programming space requirements in the designs for a new library. When Belmont entered into this process in the past, the library building that the MBLC deemed appropriate for the town was significantly larger than the building currently proposed, and would have necessitated a move from the current site.

It is for these reasons that the Belmont Library Foundation is commencing a capital campaign to support the construction of the new library. The goal is to offset project costs as much as possible through donations from individuals, families, foundations, and corporations.

Lexington, Concord, Wellesley, Wayland, and others have raised private funds to defray library building project costs.

The Town and the Library Trustees split the $47,000 charge for the 2016 Feasibility Study. The Library Building Committee work has been funded by the Town ($150,000) and the Belmont Library Foundation ($150,000).

The Medford Public Library will soon start construction on a 44,900 sf new library building. The project costs for that Library came in at $34.6 Million.

The Belmont Library Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the Belmont Public Library, is leading the effort to raise private funds for a new building. Once a privately fundraised amount is secured, the Select Board will decide on bringing a funding decision to Town Meeting. Town Meeting members will then vote to determine if a debt exclusion should be put on the ballot to fund the remainder of the Library Project cost. If the Town votes to fund the Library Project, the new Library will become a reality.

A date for a debt-exclusion vote has yet to be finalized.

The Schematic Design for the Library Project was completed in November 2019. The Belmont Library Foundation will spend the next 18 months on a major capital campaign to raise funds towards the project costs. During this time, there will be many opportunities for the community to view the plan, ask questions of the Library Building Committee and to stay involved in the process. For information on upcoming Information Sessions, please visit www.belmontlibraryproject.com or email belmontlibraryproject@gmail.com with any questions.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Since the Library Project commenced, there have been six community meetings, two wide-reaching community survey, children’s programming events focused on design, young adult focus groups, and more than 60 meetings with town government groups and organizations. In addition, all LBC and Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public and community members are encouraged to attend and give feedback on any stage of the Library Project.

If you are interested in the Library Project, please visit www.belmontlibraryproject.com for meeting dates, presentation materials, surveys, and feedback forms.

Meeting dates are posted on the Library Project website at www.belmontlibraryproject.com and on the Town of Belmont website

There are many ways to receive updates on the Library Project. News, meeting information and general updates are posted on the Library Project website at www.belmontlibraryproject.com. In addition, the Belmont Library Foundation releases monthly newsletters and other updates. Please sign up on this site to receive Belmont Library Foundation emails.