Building project

The Montague Public Libraries are applying for state funding to expand the Carnegie Library or build a new library in downtown Turners Falls.

  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
    1. What is the MPLCP? Program information and background
    2. Why is the library applying for construction project funds now?
    3. What are the specific building issues?
    4. Will you build a new library or add to the Carnegie Library?
    5. If you build a new building, what happens to the Carnegie?
    6. How can I help support this project?

Project timeline

We are in the Application Phase of the project, and will be until Fall 2024. If we are awarded the grant at that time, we embark on the Planning & Design Phase.

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completed check underway underway future future
check Fall 2022 State construction grant announced

Building on the momentum of a months-long strategic planning process that showed the community to be dissatisfied with the space constraints of the Carnegie Library, the libraries' building committee decided to pursue state funding for a library construction project. The project would either expand the Carnegie Library or build a new library on a different site. Informed by community feedback emphasizing the importance of walkability and neighborhood connectivity, the library director and town admin identified three potential downtown Turners/Great Falls sites to be considered for a new library. These three were 11 Power Street (the railroad salvage on the Patch), the first street municipal lot (later acquired by Habitat for Humanity), and 38 Avenue A.

On December 19th 2022, the Selectboard voted to approve ARPA funds for a main library feasibility study.

check Winter 2023 Article 13 approved at Special Town Meeting

After the state grant timeline and details were released, the director and trustees decided not to use ARPA funds for a feasibility study and instead successfully petitioned voters at Special Town Meeting (March 2nd, 2023) to reallocate previously appropriated library building project funds to be used for the following article:

"To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds, borrow, or otherwise provide the sum of $35,250, or any other amount, for the purpose of supporting consulting and design costs associated with applying for and/or participating in the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners' Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program including any and all incidental and related costs, or pass any vote or votes in relation thereto."

When the libraries' building committee and town admin learned that the state application required the selection of just two sites for consideration, including the existing building site, they determined the best alternative site to be 38 Avenue A, which is located downtown in close proximity to the Great Falls Discovery Center and Town Hall.

check Spring 2023 Submit Letter of Intent

Notified the state that we plan to apply for the library construction grant from the MBLC (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners).

Submission requirements included a checklist of eligibility, a brief statement of need, and a letter on official municipal letterhead signed by municipal and library officials stating support.

check Summer 2023 Hire consultant for application process

In consultation with the Town Planner, and following the recommendation of the MBLC grant administrators, we hired library consultant Barbara Friedman to help us navigate the application process.

check 10/1/23 Submit Library Strategic Plan

Strategic plan for FY2025

check Fall 2023 Solicit community input

We ran a public survey for all of October, soliciting online and paper responses, in English and Spanish.

Our consultant facilitated three focus groups, two with the public (one online, one in person) and one with library staff. We invited a representative cross-section to seek input from a variety of perspectives, including: disabled person, downtown business owner, retiree, educator, teen, home schooler, green energy advocate.

In December we facilitated a pair of community forums, one online and one in person. You can read the presentation slides or watch the video recording of the in-person forum.

check Fall 2023 Visits to other libraries

The library director, trustees, and occasionally an interested member of the public have toured several local libraries. We've selected several recent building projects of comparable size, and/or that also had Carnegie buildings, to see how they used their grant funding to expand their buildings or build new ones. Our purpose is to glean insight from their directors into what has/n't gone well for those building projects. We've been to: Erving, Hadley, Granby, Athol, Greenfield, Northfield.

check 12/1/23 Submit FY2025 Action Plan

Action plan for FY2025

You Are Here
future 5/4/24 Town Meeting vote on Article 17

The Library Director and Trustees submitted an article for consideration at this year's annual Town Meeting. In order to apply for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Grant Program (MPLCP), the town needs to pass an article that appropriates $150,000 toward the Planning & Design Phase of the grant program, to take effect only if/when our project is selected for funding.

Informational letter to Town Meeting members

underway 5/31/24 Submit grant application

The bulk of the work for the overall application will be the Library Building Program.

Our application must consider both the renovation option and the new-build option; only once are accepted to the program will we explore which path to choose.

future 6/16/24 Submit proof of local funding appropriation

"Approval of appropriation of local funding for the Planning & Design Phase by a majority of town meeting or city council prior to application is required."

Town Meeting is the first Saturday in May, 5/4/24.

future Fall 2024 Grants are awarded

Hopefully we receive good news and embark on the Planning & Design Phase of the project. Since our "need" rating is quite high, a score based on metrics about the size/usability of our building and population demographics, our chances of winning the grant look good.

If Montague is accepted into this grant program AND the town votes to fund a library project, then the state would pay 52%–77% of project costs, depending on the total cost of the project.

The Planning & Design Phase would begin with hiring an architect to help us examine our options to renovate or build.

Construction grant program

The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) helps communities improve their public library facilities through funding and technical assistance for planning & design and construction projects.

A great many towns in MA have benefited from these grants, including many that were now 20+ years ago. The below map shows the current status of library construction in each Massachusetts municipality, for the entire history of the grant program since 1987. On their site, you can drill down by town name to explore the details of each grant.

MPLCP map

Responses to public survey, fall 2023

We asked our community to tell us about their local library experiences, and about their dreams of a new or improved library space in Turners. Here are the free-text responses they wrote in. (Click on Read More for a legible page.)

Amherst/Greenfield (they are "on my way") Carnegie only to drop off and pick up passes as Montague Center doesn't have them. CW MARS on line to order Erving is so new and beautiful. Erving library. Easy parking. Spacious children's room and easy to use bathroom. Erving-Open sundays, great librarians, beautiful site! Forbes in 01060, GPL, Sunderland Erving, for their crafting sessions and maker space Erving, MA Erving, South Deerfield -- Erving is accessible for persons with disabilities Erving, the facility Greenfield Greenfield Greenfield - convenient to my paid work / Libby comme...

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("The Carnegie Library is adequately accessible") - Handicapped access seems limited. / - Limited parking. / - Small, crowded facility. -narrow passways in stacks, -sticking, heavy front door, -small children's room and computer area, -difficult to get to top floor ... but it is a wonderful old building. The ramp at the back is nice, but then the interior navigation is tough. Is there any wheelchair access to the basement, eg, for book sales? (answer apperared elsewhere but relevant here): I am disabled and the overall access is too difficult and contentious. Aisles t...

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("I find the size of the Carnegie Library, its rooms, and shelf space to be sufficient to serve my needs") A larger computer area w/isolation dividers would aid security A larger reading room would be nice. Again, for me. Insufficient for younger age groups aisles are too narrow all rooms are too small - no privacy for reading beautiful little building, but definitely cramped! Carnegie is too small, badly configured, and hard to access and use. Claustrophobic. Uninviting "closeness" to person and product (books, movies, etc) Could be a little bi...

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("I find the parking at the Carnegie Library to be adequate and safe") a parking lot would be safer than crossing the road when parking across the street additional choice "poor" written in above / handicapped parking is difficult / front stairs and front parking is difficult for children's safety and (the parking) is no cost! Hurrah! awkward, not clear to a first-time visitor better with dedicated lot, hill is steep, hard to access when driving west Building is located on a busy corner. Parking on Seventh Street can be a challenge because it is a hill & has few spaces near the building....

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("I consider the Carnegie Library to be a safe space indoors and out") accessing handicap exterior door not good. activities held outdoors -- ground is uneven. Caring staff! Carnegie is very safe and a comforting place and location concrete stairs difficult / parking limited / function rooms not accessible Except as mentioned above. Except parking on the road feels a little crowded sometimes, but I have never felt unsafe. The heavy front door has caused a few startling moments but no real problems. fire alarms, large alarm/signage for all hard to park Have never had an issue, sta...

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(1) Access to the upstairs and I will staff it and protect it; (2) comfy chairs; (3) take the house above it by eminent domain and create ground level parking and access. (I’m kidding about eminent domain).  A better easier way to park and get in the library. It's a hufe resource for me and I depend on the library, reading, community, etc. We NEED our library and access for all. A closed door meeting room for library classes, programs, or instruction A few more computers A light weight front door, with a window A little kid space  A new building, safe, quiet and spacious with friendly at...

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

We'll add to this list as the community discussion progresses. (Click on Read More for a legible page.)

The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) is a grant program managed by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). It was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then, the MPLCP has helped build 62 new library buildings and 169 renovation, addition, and conversion projects. Grants are awarded based on the needs of the community, the current state of the library being added to or replaced, and the local economy. These three factors are also used to determine what percentage of the construction costs the state is willing to fund, starting wit...

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In 1915 the Trustees of the Carnegie Library realized their new building wasn’t big enough to serve the community. Since then, plans for expansion have been unsuccessful. We have been making do with a too-small, inaccessible space for over 100 years. Through the state‘s library construction program, we could have the chance to improve the existing Carnegie building or construct a new library to meet the evolving needs of the patrons we serve. This opportunity will not come again for another 5-8 years.

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Inaccessibility: Though there is a wheelchair ramp, many portions of the library are not accessible to those using a wheelchair or walker, including the whole second floor, the public restroom, as well as the fiction, non-fiction, DVD, audiobook, and local history collections. Lack of adequate collection space: For every item that is purchased for the Carnegie Library, one must be removed. Though library staff take pride in purchasing a diverse collection of materials to suit the many interests and needs of the community, we are regularly forced to get rid of items that a...

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We aren’t sure yet. The state application requires that we consider options for adding to the existing building AND for building new on a separate site. If our application is funded by the state, we would work with an architect during the planning and design phase to look at these two options. The town-identified site is 38 Avenue A, which is the lot across from town hall and next to the Discovery Center. A Cumberland Farms previously occupied the lot but was closed decades ago and demolished in the summer of 2023. The Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC), which is ch...

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This discussion is years away and would be moot if we expanded upon this building. That said, the Trustees would like to see the building be used as a cultural space that would be open to the public. One common suggestion is that it would make a great museum.

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Talk to your friends, neighbors, community leaders, and town meeting members about the Carnegie Library, the state grant opportunity, and the unmet needs of the community. Talk about the ways that an expanded or new library building could fill these needs. Montague deserves a library facility that fully serves the community. We are not yet ready to start fundraising, but if our project receives funding from the state, the Friends of the Libraries will begin fundraising in the fall of 2024. Please consider joining the Friends group.

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