WINCHENDON – While the proposed infrastructure construction project will bring the century-old Beals Memorial Library building into the 21st century, the library will have to operate on a small scale from the basement of the building on November 1.
Moving library services to the basement will allow the construction company to step in and do the work as quickly as possible.
Construction is expected to take two to four months; during this period, library services will be limited. All library-owned books and other materials will still be available for loan and deposit, but some items will take a few extra days to collect.
What services will be available
Computers with printers will remain available to customers during this period. All library-sponsored programs and events are canceled until further notice.
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“Some library materials will be covered in plastic upstairs while construction is underway. We will not have immediate access to some items requested by customers due to construction,” said Manuel King, the library director. “We’ll still get it back, but it might be a few days before they can get their item back.”
King said most young adult genre books and all children’s library books will be moved downstairs. Much of the non-fiction and fiction collection will be on display downstairs, and patrons will have access to new book arrivals in the basement.
What work is done
Earlier:Beals Memorial upgrade plans from 2017
Three major infrastructural changes will be made to the library building since the current state of the building does not have the capacity to keep up with current modern technology and the changes will also improve security.
The library has an outdated electrical system that will be replaced and a new sprinkler and fire alarm system will be installed. This means that the library will have additional outlets to enhance the library experience for staff and patrons in the limited spaces of the building. Finally, construction will repair and paint cracked and peeling plaster walls and ceilings.
“A big part of this is bringing the library into the 21st century and we’ll have more data to use and more outlets to plug in, switches for lights that didn’t exist before,” King said. “The building is going to be more user-friendly, and I think customers are going to really appreciate the product that will come out of the project.”
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Special municipal meeting to fund project overrun
The project budget is $1,213,785 and the library received $989,500, which was the original bid. The library got $200,000 from the Robinson Broadhurst Foundation, $75,000 from the library trust fund and $714,500 from the town assembly budget.
On Monday, October 24, there will be a special town meeting to vote to give the library the remaining $215,000 needed from the town’s available money.
“We hit a snag in the estimate the architect and his engineers made about $215,000 less than the actual bid,” King said. “The city needs to vote to use the money available to fill the $215,000 shortfall, and then we can move forward with the project and hopefully start Nov. 1.”
Preparatory work will take place in October and the project is expected to start on November 1. If the city assembly does not approve the funds, it is unclear what will happen to the project.
“The delay gives us more time to get the basement ready because right now there’s not a lot of electricity there and we’re also planning to paint the walls,” King said. “The expense of that will trickle down to the overall cost.”
The library will be closed Thursday through Saturday October 27-29 so that staff can prepare the basement for the next two to four months. Book donations for the Friends of The Beals Library Book Sale are not being accepted during this time due to space limitations.
“The reason we are going down to the basement is to allow the construction company to come in and get the job done as quickly as possible. We hope that by freeing up the upper two floors completely, they will have the freedom to work without any interference from customers or staff.” said the king. “We hope it will be done in two months, but the window is two to four months.”