FPL McAuliffe Project Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a new branch library?

The McAuliffe Branch Library is too small to serve the needs of patrons. With about 135,000 patron visits per year, McAuliffe is the second busiest of the 100-plus branch libraries in Massachusetts, but among the smallest. McAuliffe’s circulation exceeds that of many main libraries.

McAuliffe serves 33,100 children per year, estimated to increase 25-50% when the new Branch opens. (We count each time a patron visits the library.)

The McAuliffe staff does a fine job with limited resources, but space is very tight:

The collection is crammed into high, inaccessible shelves.

Some areas, including aisles to the restroom, are not wide enough for wheel chair users to maneuver.

No space is available for tutoring sessions.

The children’s area has too little space for PCs for children or for story hours.

The periodicals section is extremely limited.

The young adult section consists of a single aisle. It has no PCs, no place to sit and no study area.

Book discussions must take place in areas where people are trying to study.

The four computers available for adults and children do not satisfy the demand. Children must compete with adults to use the computers.

 What will the new McAuliffe offer?

In summer 2010, more than 300 people provided input on the features needed in the new McAuliffe. The following features address citizens’ concerns:

An accessible 17,000 square foot, one-story ‘L’-shaped building with children’s and adult wings.

55 parking spaces (compared with 18 spaces now).

Seats for 54 patrons (compared with 20 now).

Space for 21 PCs, including six for children (compared with only four PCs now).

Larger children’s and young adult areas.

Shelves that are easy to reach.

Meeting and tutoring spaces.

A green building.

A 50 seat community room which can remain opened after normal library hours.

Space for seniors and others to read and relax.

Vandermark Consulting, experts in library design, assessed patron needs and prepared the study that was the basis for the design developed by Finegold Alexander and Associates, our architects.

Why can’t children just use school libraries?

We need a larger Branch to supplement library services available in the public schools. Eight of the Town’s public schools are located near McAuliffe. School libraries are closed soon after school ends each day and at night, on weekends, and during vacations.

Having a library close to schools is important as teachers assign research projects that exhaust the capabilities of school libraries (e.g., twenty books needed on ancient Egypt at one time). The FPL’s librarians help children find the source material they need and also help the children acquire good research skills.

Why do we need a new building if electronic devices, such as Kindles, Nooks and iPads, reduce the demand for hard copy materials?

About 16% of American adults now read e-books. However, most of the 16% also read print books. Equipping a family of several children with their own e-books and e-readers would be very expensive, even if all the desired books were available as digital editions. Children need colorful books and other materials that they can touch, feel, and read. In addition, some people will never want to use or be able to use digital materials.

The new branch will have a flexible design so that we can reconfigure the building as technology and patron needs change. The Library is adapting to new information technologies by:

Adding special online reference materials.

Reducing the hardcopy reference collection.

Reducing the square footage by 15% to reflect the gradual adoption of digital materials.

Planning the interior of the new Branch for future enhancements:

Self check-out.

Open reserve shelves.

Automated materials handling equipment.

How would you describe the design for the new McAuliffe Branch Library?

The preliminary design is for an open, one-story building of about 17,000 square feet. The building is ‘L’ shaped, with one wing for children and the other wing for young adults and adults. Parking will be on the west side, near the Nobscot Plaza.

The building has a sloped roof, which is lowest in the children’s section and highest in the adults’ section. The exterior will use materials that blend into the surroundings. The area between the two wings is suitable for outside activities.

What will happen to the old McAuliffe Building?

The Selectmen and the Town Manager will decide what to do with the building.

How much will the new Branch cost?

The estimated cost is $8.6 million, including land. We have requested and received a $4.2 million grant from the Mass Board of Library Commissioners. The Library will receive $3.8 million from the Town. The Library’s Foundation raised $600,000 to decrease the town’s cost.

Will other operating costs increase at the new Branch library?

We are planning to build a green LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), fuel-efficient building to minimize energy costs.

Our current collection of books, magazines and audio/visual material is adequate for our needs, and we will not be increasing the total size of the collection as some materials, especially reference materials are now available in digital formats.

How can Framingham afford this project?

The Branch project will be a capital expense bonded over 20 years. The project will be part of the town’s capital budget, not the operating budget. The grant will cover 50% of the cost of the building and the land, about twice the percentage the Town would have received had it built a new branch in 2005.

If we continue using the existing McAuliffe building, the building will require $422,000 in repairs and improvements. This includes completing the upgrade to the HVAC system and making the building and restrooms accessible.

What enhancements are planned for the Main Library?

Recently we have added an accessible restroom on the top floor of the Main Library, funded by a Community Development Block (CDBG) grant and grants from the Disability Commission. We have also added more computers for patrons to use and reorganized parts of the collection to help patrons locate specific items. A $95,000 Town Meeting allocation has made it possible to replace leaking windows with energy efficient new windows.

Town Meeting has allocated $425,000 to rebuild the Lexington Street entrance to make it safer and more accessible. Town Meeting has also allocated $935,000 to demolish the crumbling Lexington Street garage and replace it with a surface level parking lot. Construction for both projects will begin in early Spring, 2013.

How will the new Branch affect the Nobscot neighborhood?

This project will help to revitalize Nobscot. Library patrons will frequent neighborhood businesses. This should create interest in establishing more businesses in the neighborhood. The new Branch will also attract people from other communities, and they will bring additional business to the neighborhood.

How can I make a donation to the FPL Foundation?

The FPL Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization whose short-term goal is to raise money for the new McAuliffe Branch Library. The Foundation’s long-term goal is to raise money for both libraries to supplement funds provided by the Town. The Main Library will continue to be the central library for the Town.

Donations from individuals and corporations are greatly appreciated. Donation envelopes and forms are available at both libraries, or you can donate online at www.fplf.org.

You can make a donation right now or pledge to donate a larger sum over a 1-3 year period. In the future you will once more be able to buy a brick to honor or remember someone special.

Does the Foundation have a matching program?

The Foundation has a matching program. Check with your company to see if they participate in such programs.

Whom may I call if I have suggestions or questions about either the Main Library or the McAuliffe Branch Library?

Call or e-mail:

Mark Contois, Director (508-532-5270, ext. 4358), mjc@framinghamma.gov


Jane Peck, Assistant Director (508-532-5270, ext. 4357), JPeck@minlib.net



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