The library's temporary locations are at the Beech Street Center and the E.C. Benton Library. For more information, including hours of operation, please click here.

Library Building Project FAQs & Feedback

Please find below some of the Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Belmont Library Building Project.


Will the new Library be a renovation, a renovation with addition, or a new building?

The Library will be a new building. The 2016 feasibility study concluded that the current building is a poor candidate for renovation, as required repairs and updates would be extremely costly and would reduce usable space, yet fail to provide appropriate space for both current and future use.

The Library Project schematic designs, available at, were derived from the feasibility study, input from the community in various formats: public forums, online surveys, etc., and the Library Building Committee’s work since 2017. The design for the new building is being finalized now during the Design Development phase of the project. The latest design updates will always be linked at the top of the project page. Guiding principles for the design include the use of the library as a community space, creation of spaces that are accessible and open to all, flexible spaces that serve multiple purposes, an abundance of natural light, a highly sustainable building envelope and building systems, a building site that’s integrated with the landscape and that takes advantage of solar energy, and maximum cost efficiency.

Where will the new Library be located?

The new Library will be built on the same site as the current library. Concord Avenue is undergoing an exciting rejuvenation with the new Underwood Pool, the Armenian Studies and Research Center, the intergenerational path, the new Belmont Middle and High School, and possibly a new skating rink. Keeping Belmont’s library in its current, easily accessible space will add to the incredible education/recreation corridor of Concord Avenue.

Will the new Library be the same size as the current library?

The current Belmont Public Library building is approximately 29,500 sf. As we wrap up the Design Development phase of the new Library project, the new building size is planned at 40,460 sf. This increase in size will be accomplished on the same site as the current building. The size of the building is based on space and programmatic needs detailed in the feasibility study report, as well as subsequent studies that outline the space requirements necessary for the building to be “right sized” to adequately house resources and to support programming. To view the 2016 feasibility study, visit

What will the new Library look like?

Specifics of the new Library design include:

  • A two-story building with a brick and glass facade of approximately 40,460 sf
  • Ground-level entry from Concord Avenue
  • Sustainable, energy-efficient design, including rooftop PV, daylighting, and a highly insulated building envelope
  • Main area with views through the site, circulation desk, and main stair area which can be used to gather, read, and serve as program seating
  • A children’s room with views out to the “golden bowl” and pool, a dedicated story time/project room, and plentiful stroller parking
  • A second floor with various seating options – laptop bar, soft seating and outdoor seating etc. in the main reading room
  • Additional space for books, movies, music, technology, and other materials
  • A larger young adult area
  • A maker space, technology room, and digital media lab
  • A multi-purpose meeting/community room with after-hours access
  • Quiet individual study areas
  • A quiet reading room
  • Group study/collaboration rooms
  • A Belmont History wing with both the Claflin Room and the Belmont Room
  • Designated Friends of the Belmont Public Library book sale and sorting area
  • Outdoor areas for use as classroom space, event space, and general green space

With the successful vote in November 2022, the design is now proceeding and you can find the current information at

The new Belmont Middle and High School will have a large library. Can that library be used for young adult services to decrease the size needs for the Young Adult room?

The library at the new Belmont Middle and High School will be a great improvement over the existing BHS library, however school libraries exist to support the academic needs of the school’s students and are only open to students during school hours, not on nights or weekends, vacation weeks, or the summer months.

The materials, resources, and programs available for young adult patrons of the Belmont Public Library are far more encompassing and available to ALL of Belmont’s young adults– those that attend BHS, those that are homeschooled, and those that attend private schools. While the updated school library at the Belmont Middle and High School will be a wonderful addition to the Belmont Public Schools, it in no way negates the need for a 21st century library that provides appropriate resources and services for all of Belmont’s young adults.

Will the building be a sustainable design?

The Library Building Committee worked closely with the Library Project design team, the Belmont Energy Commission, and environmentally focused town groups, to ensure that the new library is working towards Belmont’s energy goals. Exciting sustainability features of the new library include:

  • A west and east facing solar photovoltaic (PV) array
  • Rooftop mechanicals with a generator
  • All-electric, net-zero-ready systems
  • A highly insulated building envelope
  • Glazing/glass under 40%
  • Daylighting – window and skylight placement to maximize effective internal lighting
  • Stormwater management systems
  • A rain garden filtration system
  • Native vegetation
  • Car charging stations

What are the spaces included in the new Library?

The Belmont Public Library offers a wealth of resources and services, and demand for these services has risen every year. In FY 2019, the Belmont Public Library had the 10th largest circulation numbers in Massachusetts, 254,833 visitors, and a total circulation number of more than 600,000. On top of that, more than 18,000 children, teens, and adults attended 772 events.

In response to space and programmatic needs, the schematic designs for the new library include:

A larger children’s room with designated programming space – One of the most highly utilized spaces in the Library is the Children’s Room and many of the most successful Library programs are those for children and their caregivers. Unfortunately, the size of the current Children’s Room is insufficient for Belmont’s growing youth population and the room’s layout and amenities are less than ideal for the Library’s youngest patrons. The Library has worked with the MBLC (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) in an effort to make the Children’s Room compatible with current space and programmatic needs, however the MBLC agrees that the limited children’s room space has been effectively utilized and has no additional recommendations for how to more efficiently use the space.

Schematic designs for the new Library include a larger Children’s Room that has:

  • Designated programming space, with necessary facilities for running successful programs. I.e., sinks for arts and crafts programs
  • Sufficient seating space for storytimes
  • A nursing room
  • Designated quiet play areas
  • Technology services spaces

Expansion and improvements to the Children’s Room, as detailed in the schematic design, will enable the Library to adequately accommodate Belmont’s youngest patrons and to provide appropriate resources, programs, and services.

Individual study areas – There is extremely limited distinct space for people to study in the current building. There are a handful of stand-alone desks and there are often people waiting to take advantage of any empty area. This is particularly obvious during after school hours, when many students walk from the high school and middle school to complete homework and to study at the Library. Schematic designs for the new Library include an increase in individual study areas throughout the building.

Small-group study/meeting spaces – There is a great need in town for spaces for groups of citizens, students, and organizations to gather for meetings, to work, and to participate in study sessions. With only two meeting spaces available at the Library, and priority rightly going to library programming, it is extremely difficult to procure a meeting or small group study spot. Groups routinely use the tables throughout the Library, but this often leads to unintentional noise issues and sub-optimal seating situations. Schematic designs for the new Library include seven study rooms, three designated meeting rooms, and other library rooms that can serve as meeting spaces.

Multi-purpose community room with after-hours access – All meeting and event space is at a premium in Belmont. When the Library needs to hold an event that deviates from the usual operating times, there is no way to secure the site and keep event attendees in one area. Schematic designs for the new Library include a multi-purpose event room, with after-hours capability, adjacent restrooms and workrooms, and designated entry and exit points. This ensures that events can be held at times when the Library is not open and will not require that unused portions of the Library be staffed. This space can be utilized not only for Library programs, but also for events held by community organizations and outside groups and, if rental fees are charged, could serve as a potential revenue source.

Additional computer/technology work areas – Town residents rely heavily on the Library’s technology services. Patrons come to the Library to use computers, access Wi-Fi, make copies, learn how to use 3-D printers, utilize databases, take coding and programming classes, and much more. Due to limited computers and available work areas in the building, there is often a lengthy wait to access technology services. Schematic designs for the new Library include additional technology workspaces and additional individual study/work areas for patrons who bring laptops or other electronics to use while at the Library.

Technology/Maker Space/Digital Lab Space for technology instruction and experiential learning – A 21st century library provides services that don’t come solely from books. Libraries offer programs that teach patrons how to utilize technology, supplement curriculum, and learn new technology-related skills. Many technology-focused events offered at the Library are filled as soon as programming schedules are announced and, unfortunately, many patrons do not make it off wait lists.  Schematic designs for the new Library include designated technology instruction space and maker lab, and a digital media lab. These improved spaces for technology programming will increase the number of technology-focused programming and events that the Library can offer and will ensure that Library patrons have access to current technology for work, education, and life-long skill advancement.

A larger young adult area/teen space – Space in the Young Adult Room is extremely limited. With only three tables and the smallest book stacks of any area within the Library, not to mention no quiet study or collaborative workspaces, it is a less than ideal place for Belmont’s teens to come after school to do homework or to collaborate on group projects.

Studying doesn’t end at the end of the school day and teens need a safe, supervised place to complete their work and to take advantage of the fantastic young adult programming and services provided by the library. Schematic designs for the new Library include a Young Adult Room that adequately accommodates the number of teens who routinely visit the Library. The room will have plentiful seating and study spaces available and will be flexible enough to be used for teen-specific programming when needed. The teen space will be located in close proximity to the technology areas, where Belmont’s students will acquire skills for school, employment, and beyond.

Outdoor areas that can be used as an extension of the Library – There is a wonderful landscape outside the Library’s doors, but it has not been utilized as an integral part of the Library. In the new Library designs, the outdoor area in re-imagined as program space, meeting space, and reading/quiet space. In 2019, when Covid-19 hit, it became even more apparent that areas outside of buildings must work as an extension of public space. The designs for the outside of the Library greatly expand usable space for patrons.

What does it mean for the Library to be a “community center?”

The Belmont Public Library is the hub of the community, a place that welcomes people of all ages, backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and interests. The Library is not only a resource center, providing access to books, digital media, computers, and more, but also an event and programming center – hosting a wide-range of performances, lectures, and author talks. The Library offers programming from coding classes for teens, to language and writing workshops, to musical performances, to ELL conversation groups, to storytimes for the youngest Belmont Public Library patrons, all with a focus on meeting the needs of the community. The Library is a gathering place for clubs and organizations and Library staff works closely and collaboratively with town government, the Beech Street Center, the school department, civic groups, and community organizations to provide meeting space, to hold joint events, and to run programs that complement Town initiatives and priorities.

What will happen to the Woodland Gardens?

The Woodland Gardens are incorporated into the design of the new Library. The Gardens will continue to be an integral and prominent element of the Library’s overall landscape design.

How will a new Library building impact the wetlands?

In accordance with the Wetlands Protection Act (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 13, Section 40) and with input from Belmont’s Conservation Commission, the landscape design team has created a landscape plan that incorporates storm-water gardens that filter rain water from the parking lot and roof and feed that water back into the Wellington Brook. In addition, landscape architects are working to incorporate waterway concerns into their designs and to do their part to maintain Belmont’s waterways and help mitigate flooding from the Wellington Brook.

Will the new library have space available for after-hours events or community use?

Schematic design includes a meeting space that will accommodate larger groups than the 125-person capacity of the largest meeting room in the current Library. This space will have an adjacent food preparation area and restrooms. The meeting area will be self-contained and can be closed off to the rest of the Library and operational when the Library is closed to patrons.

What will happen to the Claflin/Historical Society room?

The new Library will have an “historical wing” where the Claflin Room and the Belmont History room are side-by-side.

Will there be a café or a space where patrons can eat?

There will be a space in the new Library, furnished with tables and chairs, where patrons will be able to eat, drink, and converse.

Will the new Library have more parking than the current building?

There will be approximately 42 parking spaces for the new building. This is the same number as are currently available for staff and library patrons. The High School Building Committee and LBC have been strategizing together on the possibility of providing shared parking across the street.

Will the Library be ADA compliant and accessible?

The new Library will be 100% in compliance with ADA building codes and will be universally accessible.

What are the phases of the Library Project and what phase is the Library Project in currently?

The Library Project is currently in the Design Development phase. The phases of a building project include:

Feasibility Study. Prepared by an architect, the feasibility study in an in-depth analysis of existing building conditions, building space usage, a structural review, zoning analysis, and site and landscape examination, including parking options. In addition, the feasibility study offers analysis of available construction possibilities (renovation, addition with renovation, or new construction) for a site. This phase was completed in early 2017.

Conceptual Design. – Based on the project feasibility study and still an early phase of the design process, conceptual designs detail construction options and define parameters of a building project. The design team synthesizes and incorporates information gathered from the building committee, library staff, community members, and town-wide survey participants and turns ideas into design renderings. Conceptual designs serve as a starting point for specifics of the project, including room size, lay-out, programmatic space allocations, and other design features.

Schematic Design. Based on approved conceptual designs, the schematic design establishes the scope, budget and schedule for the building project. The schematic design details exterior and interior design, room lay-out, building systems, sustainability goals and programmatic building space. In addition, the schematic design details project costs, including design and OPM fees, construction costs, landscape expenses, and other project-related costs such as furniture and equipment. This was finalized for the Library Project in November 2019. You can see plans and images of the designs from the Schematic Design phase at

Design Development. During the design development phase, the design is developed in greater detail.  Building materials are chosen, building systems and engineering are designed and coordinated, and the spaces of the building and site are developed with a greater degree of specificity.  The project is currently in the Design Development phase, and more information can be found at

Construction Documents.  This is the final design phase in which the construction details are documented, all final selections are made, and the technical specifications for engineering and construction are finalized.  The construction drawings and specifications from which the building will be constructed are generated in this final phase of design.


Who are the partners in the Library Building Project?

The Library Project partners include the Belmont community, who have provided ideas, voiced their desire for a new library, and whose support is essential as the Library Project moves forward, the  Library Building Committee, the Library Board of Trustees, Belmont Public Library staff and administrators, the Owner’s Project Manager (CHA, formerly Daedalus Projects), the Architecture firm (Oudens Ello), the Belmont Library Foundation (BLF), and the Friends of the Belmont Public Library (FOBPL).

How was the Library Building Committee formed and what is their role?

In 2016, the Town commissioned a feasibility study at the request of the Library Trustees. The feasibility study concluded that a new library building would most effectively meet the Town’s library needs, as the current building is a poor candidate for renovation.

The recommendation for a new library building was brought to the Board of Selectmen and the Financial Task Force who supported the establishment of a Library Building Committee. After overwhelming authorization from Town Meeting, the Town Moderator appointed the Library Building Committee (LBC) at the end of 2017. The LBC is an all-volunteer, temporary committee. The chair of the LBC is an architect with experience designing public libraries, and members of the LBC have vast experience with Belmont building projects, town government, Belmont’s sustainability goals, engineering, and construction.

The LBC oversees and advises on all stages of the Library Project from hiring the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) and the architecture team, to holding community meetings, developing the building design, creating construction documents, and managing the construction process. 

Who are the Library Trustees and what is their role in the Library Project?

The Board of Library Trustees are elected by Belmont’s citizens to provide oversight of the Library. The Trustees are responsible for hiring and evaluating the Library Director, establishing and reviewing Library policies, approving expenditures, advising on community needs, speaking as advocates for the Library, and acting as liaisons to the Select Board. The Library Trustees are closely involved with the Library Project and Trustee Kathy Keohane is a member of the Library Building Committee.

Who are the Friends of the Belmont Public Library?

A non-profit organization, the Friends of the Belmont Public Library provides financial support to the Library for key programs and activities.  Funds from membership donations and the annual used book sale pay for passes to local museums, young adult and children’s programs, author and music series, the One Book One Belmont community event, as well as other important gifts to the Library. The Friends also organize volunteers to help with library activities.

What is the Belmont Library Foundation?

The Belmont Library Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private foundation, was formed to undertake promotional and fundraising activities for the Belmont Public Library, including support for the Library Project and creation of an endowment to fund ongoing Library needs.

The Belmont Library Foundation is leading the effort to raise private funds for a new Library, and has run two successful fundraising campaigns in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.  In partnership with the Belmont Public Library administration, the Library Board of Trustees, and the Friends of the Belmont Public Library, the Belmont Library Foundation encourages continued and increased support of the Belmont Public Library as a valuable community resource.

Who is the Owner’s Project Manager and what is their job?

The Library Building Committee selected CHA (formerly Daedalus Projects, Inc.) to serve as the Owner’s Project Manager for the Library Project in June 2018. The Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) provides project management guidance throughout the life of the project. Massachusetts General Law (MGL) requires that an OPM is contracted for any public building project where services are estimated to exceed $1.5 million. The duties of the OPM include, but are not limited to: providing advice and consultation with respect to design, value engineering, scope of work, and cost estimating; general contractor and subcontractor prequalification; scheduling, construction, and the selection and negotiation with, and oversight of, a designer and a general contractor for the project; and ensuring the preparation of time schedules, and assisting in project evaluations.

Who is on the Design Team?

The Library Building Committee and the Owner’s Project Manager (CHA, formerly Daedalus Projects) selected Oudens Ello as the Project Design Team in November 2018.

Oudens Ello Architecture is a design firm specializing in cultural, academic, and commercial projects. The Boston-based office is comprised of a team of experts skilled at creating innovative architectural solutions and has worked on 12 public library projects in Massachusetts. As architects committed to a sustainable future, Oudens Ello Architecture carefully considers every project with respect to its impact on the natural environment with the belief that “green building” is an integral part of responsible design. Oudens Ello won the 2017 AIA New England Merit Award for the Scituate Town Library and the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for the Eastham Public Library.

Is the State/MBLC (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) involved with the Library Project?

Members of the Library Project have shared building designs and program goals with the building program committee of the MBLC. The MBLC provided feedback and suggestions, many of which are reflected in the building design.

What opportunities did the community have to provide input on the Library Project?

Since the Library Project commenced, by 2022 there were seven community meetings, two wide-reaching community surveys, children’s programming events focused on design, young adult focus groups, and more than 60 meetings with town government groups and organizations. In addition, all LBC and Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public and community members are encouraged to attend and give feedback on any stage of the Library Project.  For current updates and information about the project and public meetings, visit the Library Building Committee page here on the Library website.


What is the Library Project timeline?

Feasibility Study Completed

May 2016

Library Building Committee Appointed

January 2018

Owner’s Project Manager Hired

June 2018

Architecture Firm Hired

November 2018

Schematic Design Completed

November 2019

Capital Campaign

Currently ongoing

Debt Exclusion Vote

November 2022 ballot

Building Design Finalized

Ongoing, to be completed by December 2023

Building Construction

To commence in first part of 2024

New Library Opens

Fall 2025

Will patrons have access to materials while the new Library is being built?

During construction, materials will be housed off-site in temporary space and programs will be held at other community locations. The current plan is for adult services to be provided at the Beech Street Center, Children’s Services to be provided at the Benton Library, and staff to be headquartered at Chenery Middle School. 

When will demolition/construction begin?

Demolition is scheduled to occur at the beginning of 2024 and construction to begin in late winter/early spring of 2024. 

When will the new Library open?

The current project schedule plans for the new Library to open in the Fall of 2025.


How much will the new Library cost and how is it funded?

The Library Building Project cost estimate was updated in April 2022, and is estimated to be $39.5 million based on starting construction in 2024.  As of September 2022, $5 million in private funds has been accrued for a new building, bringing the project cost down to $34.5 million.  The cost per household is $232/year per $1M assessed value.  The project cost includes design fees, construction costs, contingencies, and temporary needs (e.g. temporary location for the library during construction and moving costs).

Will Belmont receive any state aid for the Library Project?

The Library Building Project has received $250,000 in Massachusetts’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds.

At this time, state funds are not available through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for the Belmont Library Project. The most recent library construction grants were awarded in 2016 and nine projects were awarded provisional grants. 24 library projects were placed on a waitlist. The last of these waitlisted projects will likely reach completion in 2033. With this timeline, if there is another MBLC grant round, the earliest Belmont could be accepted into the grant program would be 2028/29, with funding between 2035 and 2045.

The Library Building Project continues to pursue other possible sources of state funds.


What opportunities did the community have to provide input on the Library Project?

Since the Library Project commenced, by 2022 there were seven community meetings, two wide-reaching community surveys, children’s programming events focused on design, young adult focus groups, and more than 60 meetings with town government groups and organizations. In addition, all LBC and Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public and community members are encouraged to attend and give feedback on any stage of the Library Project.  For current updates and information about the project and public meetings, visit the Library Building Committee page here on the Library website.

How can I be involved in the process?

If you are interested in the Library Project, please visit for meeting dates, presentation materials, surveys, and feedback forms.  If you are interested in fundraising and community outreach for the Library Project, please visit the Belmont Library Foundation at and contact them at [email protected].

How can I keep up to date on developments in the Library Project?

There are many ways to receive updates on the Library Project. News, meeting information and general updates are posted on the Library Project website at You can also sign up to receive email alerts before each Building Committee meeting.  All Building Committee meetings are open to the public.  Meetings are generally held on select Tuesday nights at 5pm via Zoom.  You can access the Town Meeting calendar at


Why does Belmont need a new library?

The current Belmont Public Library, built in 1965, is the center of our community–our town square–an essential resource that serves the needs of all of Belmont’s resident. The Library is not simply a place from which books are borrowed, it is a space for hosting cultural events and meetings, it provides a place to study and socialize, and it offers a wide range of programming that enriches the lives of all Belmont residents.

After decades of making repairs whenever possible, cosmetic-only improvements, and doing what is absolutely necessary to keep the doors open, the building has reached a breaking point. The library building’s aging infrastructure, extensive space constraints, and inflexible spaces, do not adequately meet the current or future needs of Belmont’s residents. Stop-gap measures are not enough to maintain the Belmont Public Library as the community hub upon which residents rely.

In November 2022, the voters of the Town of Belmont voted YES to proceed with the Library Building Project and Town Meeting approved the project funding.  The Library Building Committee is now proceeding its work with the Oudens Ello Architecture and its design team and Daedalus Projects, Inc (OPM) to complete the design of the Library Building Project. 

What are the infrastructure problems at the existing library building?

The Library building’s mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems are outdated, inefficient, and have reached the end of their useful lives. They require extensive maintenance by the Town and will require even more in the coming years. In 2016, the Town commissioned a building feasibility study. This study concluded that the floors of the Library do not meet the current code for live load book stacks. The masonry exterior of the building does not meet current seismic standards, and the “sagging,” unusable, and unfixable main steps, which are due to the settlement of a man-made earthen berm, are the first image encountered by library visitors. The current fire alarm system needs extensive updates and the building lacks a fire sprinkler system.  There are considerable ADA compliance issues, such as an elevator that cannot accommodate motorized wheelchairs, and limited access to some stacks and most of the bathrooms for patrons with disabilities.

There have been no major renovations to the Belmont Public Library since the building was opened in 1965 and addressing all of the building’s structural, design, and system deficiencies would result in a significant loss of usable space. Because of the interdependencies of these various systems (e.g. the fire alarm replacement requires the electrical system to be replaced), these items cannot be addressed in a piecemeal manner.  If all necessary repairs and upgrades were completed on the existing building, even over a span of several years, ADA compliance requirements would be triggered, leading to extensive compulsory updates.

Why do we need a library in the digital age?

The role of the public library has expanded, not diminished, in the digital age. Libraries are evolving to meet the new needs of the community. A 2016 Pew Research Center Survey and corresponding report found that “53% of Millennials say they used a library in the previous 12 months.” It is worth noting that the survey asked for “public library use,” not “academic library use.” Millennials, those aged 18-35 when the report was completed, were raised in the “Digital Age,” yet they are among the largest group of library patrons.

The Belmont Public Library is thriving in the Digital Age. It serves ALL members of the Town, covering all ages and demographic profiles. As an institution that touches all groups, the Library is uniquely poised to cultivate materials and provide programming that reflect the Town’s interests and needs. For example:

Literacy Programs – From storytimes to music programs to preschool fairs to summer reading programs, the Library gives children a place to start their literacy journey– to read, think, and explore.

Age and Interest-Specific Programming –  From teen services such as the Girls who Code programs, Homework and Hot Chocolate sessions, and LGBTQ drop-in meetings, to adult programming like book clubs, knitting groups, author discussions, and technology training, to senior services such as homebound delivery and senior-specific technology training, the Belmont Public Library hosts programs that interest and positively impact resident of all ages.

Circulation Materials Beyond Books & Periodicals – People still want a robust collection of books and periodicals at their library, but they also expect to have other resources available.  In addition to books, the Belmont Public Library offers extensive music and movie collections, e-books, e-audiobooks, music, and film downloads, and searchable databases like for video tutorials on business and technology, Gale-Cengage for Massachusetts legal forms, and Vocations and Careers Collection, to name a few. The list of resources, both hard-copy and electronic, provided by the Library grows daily.

Technology Services Inside and Outside the Library – While at the Library, patrons can access computers or connect to Wi-Fi on their own device. If patrons need instruction on available technology or on how to access electronic circulation materials, one-on-one technical training is available. In addition, laptops, kindles, rokus, and phone chargers are available for check out, so that patrons can bring technology into their homes.

Space for Social & Community Engagement – Libraries are often the center of social and community engagement, providing a safe place for people to work, study, attend music programs, and engage with other community members.

Evolving Programs that Address Community Needs –Library programming is constantly changing to reflect the needs of the community. Recent Belmont Public Library programmatic additions include: English Language Learning Conversation and Book Groups, Sensory Storytimes for children with autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration issues and other developmental delays, and computer programming classes for middle and high school students.

According to a 2017 Brookings report on Building Healthy Neighborhoods, “Libraries help local people figure out the complexities of life, from navigating the health system to helping those with housing needs.” The Belmont Public Library partners with organizations throughout the town to provide educational programming and meeting space to directly address community needs.

Librarians –Belmont Public Library librarians answered 29,754 reference questions in FY 2019. There is an amazing and dedicated staff at the Library, and they are always poised to assist patrons and to develop engaging and enriching Library programs.

Source of Wellness Programming – Library programs fulfill a wide-array of patron needs — everything from tai chi classes to healthy eating workshops, to mindfulness and meditation workshops, to the successful Be-Well Series.

Library patrons can stop by to pick up a book, and stay to learn a new skill, receive technology training, take a meditation course, search job databases. and so much more. It may be the digital age, but libraries play an even more important role in the lives of community members now than they ever have.

How did Covid-19 impact Library utilization?

Entering 2020, the Belmont Public Library was ready to break circulation and programming records and then, Covid. In March 2020, the Library was able to successfully pivot and altered its service model by moving programs and services online. The residents of Belmont were never without a library.

While many libraries in the Commonwealth had a limited presence during the pandemic, the Belmont Public Library created Parking Lot Pickup to enable community access to materials. The response was amazing with more than 6,000 pickups during the library shutdown. In addition, even with the physical doors closed, librarians remained available to connect patrons to library materials, to answer reference questions, and to provide personalized recommendations. A Library Help Chat service was developed in order to meet patron’s reference inquiries and since its rollout in August 2020, librarians have answered 464 questions via chat alone.

During FY 2020, more than 350 online programs were held, including online discussions, book clubs, performances, summer reading programs, knitting clubs, ESL discussion groups, homework tutoring, and more.  In addition, the Library expanded online offerings with new services such as Acorn TV, Creativebug, Kanopy, Hoopla and Overdrive. There was a measurable increase in usage of downloadable ebooks, music, and the Great Courses as well as many other digital offerings.

In the fall of 2020, when other town buildings remained closed, the Library opened its doors and created a contact-free pickup system. As Covid numbers worsened in the winter months, the process was adapted to provide pickup of items through windows. Each day, hundreds of patrons came and waited outdoors in line for library services and this number only grew when other area libraries closed entirely, sending their patrons to Belmont. The Belmont Public Library served not only Belmont’s residents throughout the pandemic, but residents from across eastern Massachusetts.

The Belmont Library was among the first 10% of Massachusetts libraries to reopen its doors to the public. Restoring access to technology was essential, with Plexiglass, walking guides, and PPE on hand, patrons could enter the building to use computers, fax machines, copiers, printers, and more with help from library staff when needed.

The Belmont Public Library illustrated its value as a community resource during the pandemic. The Library innovated and found new ways of providing services and programs our community values during a time when many other aspects of daily life stood still. Now that the state is reopening, the Library has seamlessly pivoted back to include a fuller array of its services – with appropriate modifications and precautions.

Do you have questions about our process to design the new library? Would you like to give feedback, or get involved? Please feel encouraged to fill out the form below, and we’ll be happy to hear from you or answer any questions you might have.

Building Committee Feedback

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