Woburn Public Library > About the Library > Library Timeline

Library Timeline

1856 Woburn Town Library opens in Town Hall.

1865 Moved to Wade Block because of the need for more space.

1879 Present building opened to the public.

1908 Survey of library suggested changes to accommodate new uses (i.e. a new Children’s Room).

1914 Natural history collection moved from Octagon Room to Attic. Octagon Room made into Children’s Room.

1962 “Shaffer Report” recommends construction of an addition.

1965 League of Women Voters publishes “Woburn Public Library: a critique” supporting the Shaffer recommendation.

1965 Seating: 55 adults; 21 children

1970 Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott (SBRA) feasibility study. Expansion study never implemented.

1976 Children’s Room moved to the basement of the Library.

1988 Administrative desks moved from reference room to 2nd floor to make space for collections.

1995 Construction grant application turned down since it would not yield any actual improvement in library service.

1997 Library applied for and received a planning and design grant for a renovation and expansion.

1998 Building Program accepted by Board of Trustees starting ’97 grant process.

1999 Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott hired for design study based upon the approved Program.

1999 Seating: 50 adults; 12 children. Increased collection and program needs reduce seating capacity.

2001 Library officials prepared another grant application for construction funds. However, they weren’t able to apply because the city was concerned that the project was too big.

2002 Seating: 37 adults; 6 children Lack of space continues to erode seating for patrons.

2002 The Trustees hosted a public meeting in November for the community to offer suggestion and comments about the proposed library renovation/addition.

2004 Library Administration desks moved to basement due to accessibility issues of 2nd floor.

2005 Library officials submitted another application to the MA Board of Library Commissioners for construction grant monies. The City Council and the Mayor approved this 2005 application. The City and library were notified late in ’05 that the application had been recommended for funding.

2008 The state did not fund the award until the summer of ’08. The award was based on the estimated funding for the addition and renovation at the time of application in ‘05. Eventually the award was increased to nearly $5 million dollars.

2008 Library Building Committee formed by agreement with City and Board of Trustees. Work begins immediately. Due to concerns about the schematic design and the loss of key architects from SBRA, new plans need to be drawn up, and a new architect selected. Per the grant requirements, the site remains the same.

2009 Library Building Program revised due to passage of time, and approved by the Trustees.

2009 The city allocated $300,000 to library officials to hire a project manager (as mandated by the state) and an architect for the schematic or preliminary design phase. Selection procedures followed for the project manager and architect. The Building Committee developed the qualifications (RFQs) for both professions and interviewed the candidates. Design Technique, Inc. was hired as project manager and the architectural firm, CBT, was selected to develop schematic plans and an estimate for the project.

2009 Seating: 34 adults; 5 children and 6 toddlers. The space squeeze tightens and more seats are lost.

2009-2010 Building committee meets at City Hall with project manager and architects on a regular basis. Site visits are made to other libraries by architects, trustees, library staff, building committee members. The committee holds meetings with staff from Board of Library Commissioners, a member of the Board of Library Commissioners, Mayor, Aldermen, and other city hall employees. Architects and committee members also meet with Handicapped Commission, Historical Commission, and Planning Department. Additionally, public meetings are held at the library.

Spring 2010 The Trustees produce Public Awareness film. Library website features information on the project on a regular basis.

May 2010 Schematic designs of proposed addition are unveiled at a public event at the Library.

July 2010 Trustees meet with City Council to make a formal presentation on the project. Trustees are asked about “alternate sites”. Although the city would lose the grant if another site were selected, the Trustees gather information and present a lengthy document to the City Council on “Alternative Sites”.

October 2010 Trustees hold fundraiser at library for project. Mayor announces he is not in favor of plan.

November 2010 Heeding the Mayor and City Council’s warnings that they are not hearing about the library project from residents, the Trustees ask supporters to attend a rally at the library. Over 200 residents show up.

December 2010
Mayor requests meeting with architect, city engineer and assistant city auditor to find ways to reduce the financial scope of the project. (Library officials were not initially invited to this meeting.) Cuts were proposed (including eliminating the meeting room, reducing the size of the children’s department and the reference department) which amounted to several million dollars. When the Mayor came to the meeting, he expressed his displeasure and stated that he wanted the city’s share to be $5.5M and no more. End of meeting.

January 2011 Library officials once again appear before the City Council. Presentation is made outlining the deficiencies of the present building and the needs of constituents. Trustees announce the Library will apply for the next grant round from the Board of Library Commissioners for construction. Council expresses approval. Trustees further inform the Council the grant is due at the end of January and there is no time or money to apply with any plan but the present project. The Council is also reminded that there is no guarantee the library project will be awarded a new grant.

February 2011 Mayor meets with architect and city engineer about the library project. Library officials are not invited. Mayor wants to know what can be done with $5.5M.

March/April 2011 Mayor is reminded that the City will have to turn down the $5M grant from the 2005 State grant by June 16, 2011 if the City does not plan to help fund the library project from that grant. Once the ’05 grant is turned down that money will go into the pot to help fund the libraries which have submitted grant applications for the grant round of 2011, including Woburn. Over 30 libraries applied for the ’11 grant, but there is only enough money to fund 6-8 libraries. Unfunded libraries with approved projects will go on a wait list as Woburn did in 2005.

April/May 2011 The City Council is asked to vote on an “order” which would allow the library to complete the grant application process. This is a step in the grant application process with wording as required by MBLC. The vote does not require a financial commitment from the city at this time, thus maintaining the city’s option to decline funding after any potential grant award in July. A yes vote will allow Woburn to apply for and accept state funding. The ultimate approval of the future construction project, and the actual payment from the state, are contingent upon later action.