Westborough Library plans for the future
By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The Westborough Public Library has been taking steps to prepare for future growth and transform it into “a 21st-century library,” according to Library Director Maureen Ambrosino.
The library conducted a survey to find out what residents wanted for the library and hired a consultant to prepare a space planning study to offer suggestions of how to maximize the available space.
“We can's expand the building and we don's want a new one,” Ambrosino said. “We love this building.”
The library was built in 1908 and renovated in the early 1980s.
They have already begun implementing some of the low- or no-cost recommendations outlined in the report, such as adding power strips on the tables to allow for easier access to outlets for personal technology devices.
“This wasn's a consideration in the early “80s,” Ambrosino said.
They have also rearranged the check-out desk and moved the teen area from near the front entrance to the library's meeting room.
Ambrosino hopes to do more for the library's teen users, including adding a dedicated teen librarian.
“Teens are a group we don's serve very well,” she said, noting that currently they only have a librarian working 10 hours a week in the teen department.
As a former teen and children's librarian, “it bugs me doubly that we don's have one,” Ambrosino said. “[Having a teen librarian] will allow us to build collections and work collaboratively with other towns.”
Other recommended improvements include adding more flexible meeting spaces, zoning the pre-school and school-age children's room with age-appropriate seating areas, adding new technology, and opening up staff areas for patron use.
Of course, most of these require funding that the library does not have. Ambrosino has considered using a crowdfunding site such as Kickstarter to raise money, but she said she needs to research it further. The library's long-range plan has a proposal to apply for a grant for another major renovation, but Ambrosino said that it will take at least five years.
“I's glad it's a long process,” she said. “It forces us to really think it through. We want [another renovation] to meet our needs for a long time.”
In the meantime, the library is making small improvements one at a time to make it more user-friendly and satisfy residents” specific requests.
“In our survey, many people said they wanted to be able to buy coffee here,” Ambrosino recalled, “so we changed our policy to allow covered drinks in most areas of the library.”
One major improvement was the recent addition of a media makerspace in collaboration with Westborough TV, with video, audio and computer equipment and software to use and borrow.
“We wanted residents to create and share material, not only consume it,” Ambrosino said.
Residents are still discovering it and the director wants to keep spreading the word.
Resident Eric Wait and his daughter Emmy recently used the makerspace for the first time. Using one of the backpack kits that includes a camera, lights, microphone and other items, Wait took video footage of summer activities. Then, using Adobe software with help from makerspace volunteer Darian O”Donnell, he edited the footage.
“It's really easy,” Wait noted. Even though it was his first time using it, he learned quickly and was able to add fun special effects.
Of the makerspace, he said: “It's great, a beautiful space to work [in].”
Ambrosino said she has ideas to promote the new space, including possibly holding a film festival to showcase residents” creativity.
She hopes to attract more volunteers like O”Donnell, a student at Framingham State who works with Westborough TV, to be able to teach more visitors to use the space and expand its hours of operation.
Visit the library's website for makerspace hours and more information at www.westboroughlib.org.
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