Woburn Public Library
The newly opened Woburn Public Library - and by newly opened, I mean by minutes as I write this - is amazing. The crowd gathered on this sunny, but blustery Saturday afternoon was numbered easily in the multi-hundreds. This will probably be one of its busiest days as the 1000s on hand will attest!
The Woburn Memorial High School Marching Band, and the school’s a capella group, local and state dignitaries, media and TV and others from the community were all part of an crisp, exciting opening ceremony.
When the doors swung open, the crowd flowed forward into the space in an orderly and steadily fashion. Amazement was what I felt as I turned to look around the new library. The glass structure of the new building joins cleanly to - and also embraces and envelopes - the older section, making it appear as though the old Richardson Building is encased in the new glass structure. The two building share the space with a graceful and functional bond.
Every direction brought something new into view. What was the Laptop Vend station? Oh, just a place where anyone with a Minuteman network library card can check out a brand new Windows 10 laptop for use in the library - what a smart way to keep bulky and power-hungry desktops computers offs of valuable work surfaces and tables! The teen room and a makerspace are also on the first floor, as is much of the collection.
On a mezzanine level, there are study, administration and meeting rooms - and these study rooms are the finest we’ve seen. We were thrilled to meet Robert and Karen Maguire, who gifted the very same study room that we worked in today. Floor-to-ceiling windows do well in the “Snyder Sunshine Index” (a guestimated measure of natural light index that we now look for). To keep the sun from becoming overwhelming, small white circles are painted on the glass. According to one of the architects from CBT, Kyle Tornow, this approach means that a smaller HVAC system could be used and the result are very bright, comfortable and quiet workspaces. The furniture and the finish of everything - from the carpeting to the chairs to the glass whiteboard are all top notch.
Also on the mezzanine level is the history room, meeting rooms and curated exhibits tied to the town’s history. (We mention curated because there are libraries that put items out but without any explanation.)
In the basement is a vast children’s room a with craft area and a separate community room which ran a loop video of drone footage of the library’s construction over the last two years.
As jaw-dropping as the new section is, the old section has been restored to its original glory - and then some. This section is comprised of four rooms. In each, the paint has been matched to the original color and the floors of each are made of one of four hardwood species native to New England.
To the far left is Historic Artifact room, with the display cabinets restored to their original location and filled with items from different periods of the town’s history. The next room is the entryway and housed the librarian’s desk. Next, a reading room with a large fireplace on one end. Finally, to the far right, is a huge arched room that housed the stacks and still holds much of the library’s collection. Each room has been restored with such care and so much attention to detail.
For only the second time, a library has flirted with a perfect score - that almost mythical 5.0. The only ding - and we are confident it is a temporary one - relates to WiFi, which, for the moment, requires a password (which is nowhere on display that we could see). As it is, Woburn comes in at a super strong 4.82!
As we wandered the space and looked at all that has been accomplished here, it brought to mind the words from the opening ceremony of Kathy O’Doherty, the Director Emerita of the library, “A library is a manifestation of a community.” That is truly the case and Woburn has much to be proud of with this beautiful new library.
You can read more about the Woburn libary here.