Tufts Library Construction

A cooperative project between the Town of Weymouth and the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program

In July of 2017, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded a $12,085,184 Provisional Construction Grant to the Town of Weymouth for construction of a new main public library. This project will demolish the existing Tufts Library and rebuild at the same site. Funding was awarded through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP), which will finance more than 40 percent of the library’s construction cost.

While most cities and towns plan for at least two years before submitting a MPLCP grant application, Weymouth had less than a year to prepare its project. Mayor Hedlund quickly assembled a Library Construction Committee (LCC), initiated development of a library building program, and committed $100,000 to hiring an architectural firm for the library's schematic design. Weymouth was one of nine communities to receive a MPLCP grant out of 33 library applicants. The Town has six months to secure the local match necessary to accept its grant award.

What is the MPLCP?

Existing Library Front and Back

The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) assists local libraries with financing major capital improvement projects, including constructing a new public library, expanding and renovating an existing library, or adapting and reusing another building for use as a library. The average MPLCP grant award is 45 to 50 percent of a project’s eligible construction cost, with the remaining balance paid by the municipality.

To be eligible for a MPLCP grant, applicant libraries must:

  • be a free public library located in Massachusetts;
  • be certified by the MBLC as meeting the minimum state standards for public library service;
  • have a current long-range plan and annual action plan on file at the MBLC;
  • have a written library building program approved by the MBLC;
  • have a schematic design consistent with the library's building program; and
  • comply with all application requirements as stated in Massachusetts regulations 605 CMR 6.00.

The MPLCP has been continuously funded through state bond authorizations since 1987 and has assisted more than 200 communities build new libraries or expand and renovate existing ones. Grants are offered on an irregular basis, typically every five to six years, based on availability of funds administered by the MBLC.

Why invest in a new library?

Weymouth’s Tufts Library was constructed in 1965 and was considered a modern library for its time. More than 50 years later, the building is a relic in a world where libraries have evolved from hushed reading rooms to engaging and responsive community centers.

Schematic Design Front and Back

Even in the online age, more people visit their public library each year in Massachusetts than attend Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox games combined. People depend on their local library for access to technology and as a community space where programs and other activities help them learn new skills and connect with neighbors. According to the MBLC, attendance at public library programs has increased 49 percent since 2006, and every 5.5 seconds a Massachusetts resident accesses the internet through a public library. Between FY2010 and FY2016 in Weymouth, the number of library programs increased by 23 percent and program attendance increased by 160 percent. Meeting room usage also increased by 44 percent during this same period. The existing Tufts Library has neither the space nor technology to keep pace with this growing demand for services.  

Mayor Hedlund and his staff recognized the need for investment in a new Tufts Library shortly after taking office. Apart from basic accessibility concerns, the existing building contains asbestos and has substantial repair and renovation needs, including a new roof, elevator, and technology infrastructure. Replacement of the HVAC system alone would cost upwards of one million dollars, while fixing the building’s other deficiencies would cost millions more. In the end, the Town would be left with a library no better equipped to provide for the needs of the community.

Weymouth’s MPLCP grant is an opportunity to provide the community with a true 21st-century library. For the past 30 years, every library that has benefited from a MPLCP grant has experienced a major increase in usage. One study of libraries that built new buildings or renovated existing ones between 1994 and 2004 in Massachusetts found that the number of library visits for services and materials increased by 30 percent once the project was completed. This means 30 percent more people walked, drove, or took public transportation to their public library, creating value for surrounding business areas and neighborhoods.

What will the new library design include?

Public library design today is about flexibility, with priority placed on elements such as an efficient and cost-effective floor plan; flexible spaces that can be reconfigured and repurposed; and an infrastructure that can expand and adapt. The new Tuft Library will incorporate all these elements. Major improvements will include:

Schematic Design First Floor
  • An expanded children's services department with programing spaces for multiple age groups
  • A suite of community meeting rooms allowing for after-hours use
  • Special gathering spaces for juveniles, tweens, and young adults
  • A digital media lab for "maker" activities such as audio-visual and computer modeling
  • An expanded infrastructure of public computers, PACs, and wireless internet
  • Open reading areas infused with comfortable seating and outdoor views
  • Numerous study rooms equipped with "smart" technology
  • A local history center to display and preserve the library's nationally significant collection
  • An outdoor amphitheater for performance-based programs and passive recreation  

Project Milestones

Month & Year
Planning/Construction Activity
Jul 2017 The MBLC awards Weymouth a $12,085,184 Provisional Construction Grant.
Jan 2017 Weymouth submits its MPLCP application for construction of a new main public library. 
Jan 2017
The LCC and Johnson Roberts Associates present final schematic design plans to the Weymouth Town Council. The Council votes unanimously to accept the plans and authorizes the Council's President to sign Weymouth's MPLCP application and provide a letter of support.
Dec 2016 The LCC hosts a community forum with Johnson Roberts Associates to present draft schematic design plans to residents.
Dec 2016
The Weymouth Town Council votes unanimously to authorize the Mayor and the Board of Trustees of the Public Library to apply for, accept, and expend any state grants for public library construction, and to commit all project land to the care, custody, management, and control of the Department of Public Libraries for construction of a public library and associated parking.
Oct 2016
The Director of Library Services and Johnson Roberts Associates present draft schematic design plans to the Board of Trustees of the Public Library.
Oct 2016
The LCC organizes a Youth Library Design Challenge for children and teens to model or design their own library or library space. Submissions are unveiled at a reception on October 26th.
Aug 2016
The LCC hires the architectural firm Johnson Roberts Associates of Somerville to prepare schematic design plans for a new main public library.
Jun 2016 The Weymouth Town Council votes unanimously to appropriate $100,000 for development of schematic design plans as a prerequisite for the MPLCP. 
Jun 2016 The LCC approves a final building program for submission to the MBLC. The MBLC approves the building program one week later. 
May 2016
The Director of Library Services and Heritage Planning & Design present a draft building program to the Weymouth Town Council.
May 2016
The LCC hosts the second of two community forums with Heritage Planning & Design to collect public input on a library building program. The forum's focus is children's library services.
May 2016 The MPLCP grant round is officially announced on May 5th. Letters of intent are due October 7, 2016. Applications are due January 26, 2017.
May 2016 The LCC hosts the first of two community forums with Heritage Planning & Design to collect public input on a library building program. The forum's focus is general library building and service needs. 
Apr 2016
1,391 people participate in the Tufts Library Building Program survey developed by the LCC and Heritage Planning & Design. The survey is sent electronically to all cardholders of the Weymouth Public Libraries, and to all students and parents of the Weymouth Public Schools. The survey is further made available at all library branches, and is shared electronically on the Town and Library's website and Facebook pages. 
Mar 2016
The LCC hires the planning firm Heritage Planning & Design of Cambridge to prepare a building program for a new main public library.
Feb 2016
Mayor Hedlund appoints a Library Construction Committee (LCC) to prepare an MPLCP application. The LLC is composed of the Director of Library Services, Director of Planning & Community Development, Director of Asset & Facilities Management, Administrative Services Coordinator, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Public Library, and a resident of the community with 38 years of experience as a public library director.

Green Library Incentive

Construction plans for the new Tufts Library include obtaining the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. MPLCP projects that achieve LEED certification are eligible to receive additional grant funds through the state's Green Library Incentives Program to offset the cost of incorporating environmentally friendly and energy efficient materials in their public library design. LEED-certified libraries receive incentives totaling 2 to 3.5 percent of their community's total construction grant award. 

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