In 2000, a Facilities Committee appointed by Town Meeting determined that the library building was inadequate for providing the services expected of a modern public library. The library subsequently applied for and received a three million dollar construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners [MBLC] to undertake a major renovation and expansion of the library. At the time, the Town of Seekonk was not able to take advantage of this matching grant from the state, and regretfully, the funds were forfeited to other communities. In June of this year, the MBLC announced the availability of library construction grants for the first time since 2005, and our town has another opportunity to develop a library facility that can serve the people of Seekonk for the next twenty-five years.
The demand for library service as well as maintenance needs of the library building have grown significantly in those intervening years. The library building is inaccessible to many in our community and in our estimation it continues to have inadequate space for the delivery of modern library services. We also appreciate and recognize that the library service needs of our community continue to evolve, and that there is an on-going public discussion about those needs, both now and in the future. Fortunately, the MBLC offers funding to communities to help them address these issues. The MBLC, as the initial step in the state’s construction grant program, provides money for proper and thorough planning before it will consider granting funds for the actual construction.
The MBLC planning grant program provides up to two thirds of the funds needed to do a complete assessment of the town’s library service and facility needs and to develop appropriate plans to address these needs. In our case, we estimate that this study will cost $75,000. In order to receive a planning grant, the Town must be must provide a third of the needed funds, which would be $25,000. Another condition of the program is that the Town establish a Facilities Study Committee (if it doesn’t have a standing municipal building committee) to oversee the planning process and the expenditure of funds.
The Board of Library Trustees has requested that two articles be placed on the warrant for the Town Meeting scheduled for November 18 to meet those requirements. The first article requests that Town Meeting vote to appropriate funds from free cash, and the second article requests that Town Meeting authorize the Town Moderator to appoint a seven member building facility study committee. These are being placed on the warrant in November because the state requires applicants to secure local funding by May, which is before the time that Seekonk usually holds its Annual Financial Town Meeting.
You will be hearing much more from the library staff and trustees about the warrant articles and the planning process in the near future. Please e-mail me your comments, suggestions and questions, or send a quick message by clicking on the Feedback tab on the left.
Peter Fuller, Library Director