Mayor Martin Walsh stopped by the library on Adams Street last Saturday morning to talk about a planned $12.6 million investment in the branch over the next several years. As laid out in the 2016-2017 capital plan, the city intends to design and construct a new library building after a development process that will include community input into innovative possibilities for the revamp of the 65-year-old facility.
The library project in Adams Village is one of three such municipal investments planned for Dorchester. Some $12 million is on the books for the Fields Corner branch, and $13 million is the figure for improvements at the Uphams Corner branch that have yet to be scheduled.
Flanked by city, state, and library officials in the reading garden outside the library on Saturday, Walsh said, “Like many other neighborhoods in the city of Boston, Adams Street is a critical access point for residents so they have a place to come.”
The mayor and other officials emphasized the outsized role that libraries have for individuals who don’t have technological resources at their residences. “Folks may not have access to computers in their homes, and Wi-Fi,” said State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, “but they come to our local libraries to get a sense of how they can work on their resumes, how they can upgrade it, how they can look for jobs in the search of bettering themselves, and bettering our communities and our families.”
The renovation is classified as a new project that will include a 12-15 month community programming study, followed by a 6-to- 12-month architectural design process.
Walsh suggested that Adams Street library patrons can gather inspiration from the Boston Public Library ‘s central branch in Copley Square. “We want you to come down to the Copley library...and see the inspiration there and come back and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re looking for in our neighborhood library,’ ” the mayor said.
“Libraries are those spaces where people can interact,” said City Councillor Frank Baker, who noted that his wife and children all hold library cards out of the Adams Street branch. In an age of increasing digital dependence, Baker said, it is important to ensure that young people know how to engage with others.
Added Patrick Brophy, the city’s chief of operations, “As I reviewed the hundreds of projects in the capital plan with the mayor, there was no project that I was happier to see making the cut than this project here.”
Walsh’s capital plan includes more than $168 million for current and potential library projects over the next five years, with almost half ($75.5 million) allocated to ongoing renovations at the Copley Square branch.
“This shows a dedication on behalf of your city, not only to preserving our libraries, but also to enhancing our libraries,” the mayor said.
Also present on Saturday were the BPL’s interim president, David Leonard, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, state Rep. Dan Hunt, and Grace Hubbard, president of the Friends of the Adams Street Library.