Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

A Library for Today and Tomorrow

Why is library construction necessary?

The Library faces significant challenges with accessibility, functionality, and infrastructure within its current footprint. The historic three-story building lacks an elevator, rendering it inaccessible to many residents who cannot navigate the spiral staircase. The building also requires updates to comply with modern codes and address aging infrastructure. The library’s auditorium space and local history collection are located on the top floor, which lacks air conditioning and is poorly insulated. Further, only one single-user restroom serves the entire building. To provide 21st-century library services, additional space is needed for collections, programs, and public use.

Improving accessibility and functionality will allow the Town to provide more responsive services and adapt as community needs change.

What would a new or expanded library mean for residents and visitors? What will the library have that it doesn’t now?

A new or expanded library would be a people-centered space, offering meeting rooms, study areas, collaborative workspaces, and social and lounge spaces for patrons of all ages. A community room with seating for up to 120 people would be available for use by community groups, even outside of library hours. The Building Program identifies the need for a larger, open children's area for play and learning — it also prioritizes extra collection space, climate-controlled storage and displays for historical materials, and an outdoor programming space. We envision an accessible library facility that serves as a social, cultural, and educational center in the community for patrons of all ages.

Technology is changing so quickly… Are people still going to the library?

Libraries are essential in bridging the digital gap by offering free access to computers, the Internet, and digital materials. Uxbridge has a vibrant reading community, with monthly print book circulation reaching near-decade highs for adults and e-book/e-audiobook usage consistently setting records. In FY23, the Library saw a 10-year high of 564 new library card registrations. Patrons can also borrow passes providing free or reduced admission to 20+ regional attractions and unconventional items like board games, sewing machines, and ukuleles. Moreover, the library serves as a vital community hub, hosting 459 programs in FY23 with 5,306 attendees, marking a 222% increase in program attendance since FY10.

What is the size of the current library, and what is the proposed size of a future construction project?

The Library’s existing square footage is approximately 9,600 square feet. To meet the needs identified in the Library’s Building Program, a facility totaling approximately 23,111 gross square feet is needed.

Existing Library Site

When was the library last renovated or expanded?

The Library hasn’t been expanded since its construction in 1894. Basement renovations were completed in 1965, 1980, and 1996 to create a dedicated children’s room space. Another basement renovation was completed in 2007 to create a teen room. Since that time, the Library has been well maintained, but it has outgrown its space and is not ADA-compliant.

Is the Town trying to buy the property needed for an expansion of the current Library?

The Board of Library Trustees has been actively attempting to purchase the needed land for construction and parking for years with no success. We are at a point where we need to consider other options that will best meet the Library’s space and accessibility needs.

If you want to make the existing building accessible, why can’t you just add an elevator and a ramp to the building?

Adding a much-needed elevator would trigger full ADA and safety code compliance and would entail significant building modifications. This includes providing a code-compliant stairway, accessible restrooms, and increasing the space between shelving units to allow for wheelchair access. Accommodating these modifications within the existing building poses significant challenges, likely resulting in reductions in collection space and other essential services. This would be an expensive undertaking and would impact the building’s overall functionality and long-term usability.

McCloskey Site

Why is McCloskey being considered as an alternative site?

The MPLCP requires that communities submit at least two sites for consideration. The former McCloskey school site on Capron St. is Town-owned, and the land and/or portions of the existing building are large enough to accommodate a new Library. The site’s proximity to the Taft and Whitin schools and the center of Town, its potential reuse as a municipal complex, and abundant parking make it desirable. There are few other sites in town that are suited for the project, fewer that are Town owned.

What happens to the existing library if a new one is built?

The 1894 building was accepted by the Town with the restriction that it be used “for a free public library… and for no other purposes whatsoever.” We want to provide a modern, accessible library that is responsive to community needs. If that isn’t possible on our existing site, the building could be used as a historical library/museum with limited hours to house the historical collections of the Library, the Town, and the Historical Society. The Town would still own the building and be responsible for its maintenance.


Doesn’t the Library have a Trust Fund? Why aren’t Library trust funds being used for the Planning and Design matching grant requirement?

The Board of Library Trustees do oversee a Trust Fund currently worth over $2 million. This money is used to supplement books/materials purchases and to fund programming. It is not used to fund the everyday operating or maintenance expenses of the Library. To be eligible for MPLCP grant funding, the initial $150,000 must be approved by voters at a Town Meeting — it serves as an indication of the Town’s support for the Library. If a future Library project is under consideration, Library Trust Funds will be used at that time.

Library construction sounds expensive — how much will it cost and who will pay for it?

It's difficult to project the cost of library construction, without having already completed any feasibility or schematic design work. Based on the cost of recent projects and cost per square foot estimates, the total cost of a future library project could be upwards of $25 million. Ultimately, MPLCP construction funding typically covers 40% of eligible construction costs. Fundraising would be necessary to offset the final cost to taxpayers, and there have been discussions about forming a charitable foundation for these purposes.

Couldn’t the Town do a smaller construction project for less money?

In order to qualify for state construction grant funding, the project must meet the projected needs of the Town for 30 years. It is our belief that a smaller-scale, self-funded project may cost as much or not much less than the Town’s share of a state-funded project. Any future construction project should address accessibility, infrastructure improvements, and long-term functional needs.

Click here for an overview of the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program and future library construction.

Click here for more information about Article 16 at the 2024 Spring Annual Town Meeting.