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As of July 13, 2023, the Lynnfield Public Library has received a provisional construction grant of over 8 million dollars from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) to help us build a brand new 21st century library to meet the needs of the Lynnfield community. For more information on the provisional grant, please see this press release from MBLC. In addition, MBLC has awarded us $883,672 dollars to help off-set rising construction costs. The final project costs are still to be determined, but Lynnfield must decide whether or not to move forward on this project at the October 16 Town Meeting by a 2/3 vote. A majority vote at the ballot is also needed in order to secure these funds. In our recent survey, we heard overwhelmingly that what Lynnfield wants is more space – community gathering space, quiet study rooms, public meeting spaces, and a Teen Room. The new Lynnfield Public Library addresses each of these needs.

Learn about the new Lynnfield Public Library project, the voting process, and other updates about the project at this link. Here are the most recent design renderings from Rawn Architects. The design is NOT set in stone and can and will change with community input. Please email Director Abby Porter at with any questions and for more information about any part of this project.

Check out this amazing video of other recently completed library projects by clicking this link.

Learn more about the project below:

History of the Library Building Project

The origin of the first public library in Lynnfield has a similar story to others in New England towns: it began as a social organization with shareholders and went through various iterations until 1890 when the Commonwealth offered $100 to every town that would appropriate an equivalent amount to establishing a free public library. Lynnfield voted at town meeting to elect a Board of Trustees and to appropriate the funds to acquire the gift. The Lynnfield Public Library opened on July 22, 1892, with a collection of 554 books in a room in the then new Town Hall. At age eighteen, Miss Elizabeth W. Green became the first Head Librarian. In 1904 the library moved to its present location on Summer Street opposite the Common in what was the former Center School House dating from 1856. It is now the Children’s Room in the present library. In 1910 a branch library was established in the private home of Mrs. Cora Pike in South Lynnfield—with only a wooded road connecting the two ends of town. A branch library was built in 1923 on the corner of Salem and Summer Streets. The following year (1924) the circulation at the branch exceeded that of the main library.

The decade from 1950 to 1960 saw some of the biggest changes in Lynnfield as the country experienced a post World War II growth in population and building. The population increased from 3,925 in 1950 to 8,500 in 1960 and the library’s book collection expanded to 10,000. A Friends of the Lynnfield Library organization was begun that same year and has grown to a membership of 181 in 2017.  An approximate 700 square feet addition in 1959 did little to alleviate the serious space problem in the main library.

The addition that brought the library to its present size with its expansive light-filled Reading Room, the mezzanine and the Palladian window that fronts the Common was finished in 1967 and dedicated on December 3, 1967.

In 1974, in response to the Bicentennial, emphasis was placed on collecting, organizing and analyzing local history and genealogy resources. The Local History/Genealogy Collection was begun by then Library Director Marcia Wiswall. It is a small but extensive collection of carefully chosen and highly specialized Essex County and Massachusetts genealogy sources as well as Lynnfield local history resources. This collection has a superb reputation within the larger library and historical and genealogy society worlds.  The family researchers that use it are drawn from local Massachusetts cities and towns, surrounding New England states and the greater United States.

In 1981 the Peabody Institute Library of Peabody initiated an effort to create an electronic catalog of all its materials and the Lynnfield Library was the second library (after Peabody, the founder) to join this library automation project in August 1981. Thirty plus years later  NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange), a library consortium with a current membership of twenty-eight public, college, and special libraries, has improved library services by sharing needed library and electronic resources — online periodical databases, downloadable audio books and eBooks and a digital library.

In the mid-1980s, a town-wide Capital Improvement Project made recommended improvements to all Town buildings including the library. A ramp was built on the front of the building and an elevator installed as well as widening the aisles between the bookshelves to make the library ADA compliant. Air conditioning was added and repairs were made to the roof and the HVAC system. The circulation desk was relocated and the unused basement space was converted to space for book shelves. Our first year in the newly renovated library was 1992.

The remainder of the 1990’s through the 2000’s ushered in numerous changes to services, programs, and collections.  Currently, the library has over 90,000 items in the collection. 94,000 people visited the Lynnfield Public Library last year and nearly 100,000 items were borrowed from our physical and digital shelves. Our programming attendance continues to increase, with attendance of over 7,000 at programs at 415 events over the last 12 months, compared to an attendance of 3,500 at programs in 2000.

Library Building FAQs

Why do we need a new building?

We have used our existing space to its maximum capacity.  For example:

  • Large print, books on CD, children’s fiction and picture books, and collections for teens cannot expand unless substantial reductions are made in selected areas
  • There is no program room that will seat 100 comfortably for the library’s use or that of the community
  • There is no room available for the community that will seat 20 comfortably
  • There are no study rooms for students or adults to study independently or on small group projects
  • Parking is insufficient and unsafe with poor access
  • There is insufficient suitable space for children and teen interests and activities
  • There is no quiet space suitable for adults
  • There are not enough accessible electrical outlets for charging laptops, phones, and other personal devices throughout all areas of the library
  • Poor lighting and acoustics
  • The building is too crowded

What are our options?

  • A new building on a different site (Town-owned land)
  • Renovate existing library and perhaps add 2nd floor

Can we remain in the existing building and do nothing?

No, we cannot. The existing building must be repaired:

  • Roof leaks in many places
  • Septic system is in failure
  • Electrical outlets and wiring are old and cannot meet our needs
  • Unable to supply meeting room space
  • Parking remains limited, insufficient, and unsafe
  • No opportunity to grow and change with the community

If the Library were to build a new facility, where would it be built?

Reedy Meadows, because:

  • It offers us the space we need
  • It is a very attractive setting
  • It has potential for ample parking
  • The property is already owned by the town
  • It is not far from our current location and town centre
  • There will be no disruption to Golf Course operations

What will happen to the golf course at Reedy Meadow?

Members of the Library Building Committee met with Donnie Lyons from Reedy Meadow and discussed the importance of working together to ensure that a new Library Building would not disrupt the golf course or it’s operations.

If you move, what will happen to the current Library building?

The current Library building is owned by the Town. The Town will decide how it can be re-purposed for other space needs.

Will it be possible to save and incorporate the Palladium window?

If you stand in front of the Palladian window in a driving rainstorm, you will get rained on from the leaks!

When we look to specific design features of whatever plan we move forward on, we are aware that there is a great community connection to this specific window.  This will certainly be reviewed in our planning.

Why do we need a library? Everything is online.

This question only focuses on the paper vs. eBooks or physical vs. digital debate.

While it is true that digital technology offers access to different content and new types of learning, printed books still play a critical role in supporting early literacy and education (for children and adults alike). However, libraries are much more than just book repositories.

The value of the library as a “place” is becoming more and more essential to communities across the country; A place to meet, a place to learn, a place to study, and a place to collaborate for lifelong learning; space for other community groups and organizations to meet.

A 21st Century Library blends the traditional with the future, provides community gathering spaces for people of all ages, from different backgrounds, with different fields of expertise, to share ideas, create content, socialize, and engage in co-learning experiences.

As a fully functioning library, we cannot expect other towns/cities to offer services to our community; They do not have the funding nor should they be expected to foot the bill for our residents.  Each library must focus on serving their own users and using their space for what best suits their community.

The Library provides a welcoming common space that encourages exploration, creation, and collaboration for the betterment of the community it serves.

What Are Libraries Worth? (Chronicle, 2/4/2016)

What to Expect from Libraries in the 21st Century (TEDx Talk, 12/3/2016)

Books are Back.  Only the Technodazzled thought they would go away. (The Guardian, 5/13/2106)

What is a 21st Century Library?

The 21st Century Library is more than just books, it is a community gathering place that:

  • provides dynamic spaces for stimulating conversation with friends, neighbors, and classmates
  • promotes innovative learning programs for patrons of all ages and interests
  • fosters creative environments to stimulate your imagination
  • includes user-centered materials and services
  • has librarians to help you learn how to use all these services
  • and has so much more!

Why not combine school and public libraries?

  1.  Collections
    • School Libraries:
      • Serve the students and provide curriculum for their particular age and grade levels
      • Collect non-fiction and very little fiction
      • Are not equipped to serve the elderly, preschoolers, or adults in any way with the materials that they have to offer
    • Public Libraries:
      • Serve all ages and all interests and our doors are open to everyone in the community
  2. Location and Operation
    • School Libraries:
      • Are attached to an educational institution (inside or part of a larger campus)
      • School doors are now locked at all times (not anyone can just enter the building)
      • The location may be on the outskirts of the town or city
      • Library Media Centers close at the end of classes and are not open on weekends or during school vacation days/weeks.  It is also rare to have a school library that has the physical attributes to offer open doors to the public after school hours
    • Public Libraries:
      • The location is of necessity traditionally in the center of town.  Might also have branches scattered throughout the community
      • Is traditionally open days, evenings, and weekends
  3. Funding
    • School Libraries:
      • Are supported by different sources: state and local funding through annual school budget
    • Public Libraries:
      • Has the option of a Friends group or foundation that allows for different kinds of fundraising
  4. Usage
    • School Libraries:
      • Classes have dedicated Media Center time each week where they have the opportunity to check out books,
    • Public Libraries:
      • Offer assistance with research but routinely do not offer instruction

The new library has a Makerspace / Creative Technology Lab. What is that?

A Makerspace / Creative Technology Lab is a room that provides a place where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build things.  They are primarily places for experimentation, development, and idea prototyping.  

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a Makerspace/Creative Technology Lab. It depends on what the community wants to use it for.  Some libraries offer soldering facilities, saws, and building tools, others offer dedicated video production / editing computers and software, and still yet others provide spaces for knitting and sewing groups to gather and share patterns and techniques.

Read more about, “How Libraries are Becoming  Modern Makerspaces” in this article in The Atlantic by Deborah Fallows on March 11, 2016.

Will parking be addressed?

Yes! Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has guidelines for the number of parking spaces and their proximity to the building that must be part of a new facility.  A new library will have more parking spaces conveniently located near the building – no on-street parking or crossing the road to get into the building!

Will there be quiet areas and study rooms?

Yes, there will be study rooms and areas of the library that will be quiet zones to allow for reading or studying.

How do you determine the building size that you will need?

There are many factors and considerations when determining what is needed for a renovated or new facility, including:

  • A needs assessment and answers to the following questions:
    • What is your mission?
    • What kind of services, programs, and collections are needed to fulfill your mission now and twenty years into the future?
    • What does your community want?
  • A review of state and national standards and formulas. For example, the American Library Association standards, based on population, demographics, size of staff, size of collections, etc. to estimate shelving, seating, and building operations

You can read the entire Lynnfield Library Building Program, online, to see an analysis of all of these considerations.