JP Library renovation to begin Aug. 1; will involve long closure

After over a decade of waiting, the Jamaica Plain Branch Library will undergo its first major renovation in 50 years beginning Aug. 1. But while welcomed locally, the work will require an 18- to 24-month closure.

“While having the JP Branch Library closed for 18 to 24 months will be tough, the amazing building that will emerge after the renovation will be worth the wait,” Friends of the JP Branch Co-Chair Gretchen Grozier told the Gazette. “We are so excited, after nearly 12 years of pushing for this renovation, for August 1 to arrive and for work to begin.”

“The branch transformation marks a new era of library service for Jamaica Plain library users,” Christine Schonhart, the Boston Public Library’s director of branches, said in a press release.

The renovation will create a 700-square-foot, glass-enclosed reading room and computer lounge facing South Street. A new teen area and updated children’s area are included in the plan. Another feature is a new “maker space,” with a 3-D printer and graphics-editing computer software.

However, it is unclear whether the library’s current programs—including many children’s activities—will be relocated or suspended during construction, according to BPL spokesperson Rosemary Lavery.

Lavery said that the project is currently on time and within its budget. An updated cost estimate is expected in the next few weeks, she said.

The JP Branch renovation has been advocated by community members for more than a decade and subjected to many delays and political debates. A dispute between former Mayor Thomas Menino and a former BPL director prevented the JP Branch from being renovated in time for its 100th birthday in 2011, though Menino eventually supported the renovation plan that was inserted into the city budget in his final year in office.

Mayor Martin Walsh sounded his support this week in a statement provided through BPL.

“I’m proud that the renovations at the Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library will bring significant improvements that are reflective of the community’s needs and will serve users for years to come,” Walsh said in the statement.

Meeting notes were expected online this week at meeting notes bpl.org/branches/branch_capital_projects.htm. The BPL continues to accept feedback at [email protected]

CLARIFICATION: This article has been edited to clarify Menino’s history with this renovation plan.

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