By Mayor Martin Walsh
In September 2015, work began: we broke ground on a renovation to the Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library, a $10 million renovation that aimed to revitalize this community space, and ensure Jamaica Plain has a new, innovative library for residents to gather. I’m so proud to announce the renovation is complete. Together with the Boston Public Library, I was thrilled to celebrate the branch’s re-opening Saturday, May 20.
Libraries are essential resources that bring people from all walks of life together, whether it’s a parent bringing their children to story time, or a senior going to a classic movie screening. We all know how important the Jamaica Plain library branch is to our city, and that’s why this library deserves a comfortable space with state-of-the-art amenities that meet the needs and reflect the qualities of this great neighborhood.
Here’s how we invested $10 million: we’ve increasing the total square footage of the library by twenty percent so you’ll have more room to read, browse the collection, access computers, attend and host meetings, and participate in programming. The 700-square-foot addition faces South Street and will serve as a community reading lounge, which opens up to a gorgeous terrace lining Sedgwick Street perfect for reading and meeting community members. We’ve added multiple meeting spaces and improved upon flexible areas for children, teens and adults to get together to learn, connect and create.
We are dedicated to supporting and growing our world-class library system: 30,000 items have been refreshed, and 15 new desktop and 20 laptop computers have been added. Other technology improvements include free WiFi, additional self-checkout stations, creativity software, and hearing loop technology for those with hearing loss. In addition, the Jamaica Plain branch library will be the first library to incorporate the City’s Percent for Art program, which seeks to integrate arts and culture into all aspects of civic life. A request for proposals (RFP) for artists is now seeking applications to bring public art to the branch.
Accessibility was another major focus for us when renovating the JP branch library. A new elevator will provide for full ADA accessibility to all levels, as well as new and more efficient mechanical systems. We’ve also added parking for over 20 bikes and new exterior landscaping.
This renovation project here in Jamaica Plain is the perfect example of how we’re providing community members with 21st century services and building a stronger sense of community in our neighborhoods. I am so grateful to everyone involved in this project from conception to the ribbon cutting.
Most major renovations or new construction projects in the city undergo a programming, design, and construction phase that includes significant community engagement to gain input, feedback, and insight. Together, Boston Public Library, the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Department, and Utile, Inc. Architecture & Planning (the design firm for the project) collaborated closely with the Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library and the community at-large to design a renovation that fulfills the needs of long-time patrons and those who are visiting. The general contractor, Colantonio, built the community designs into a reality.
The renovations at the Jamaica Plain Branch are part of a wider effort to improve and add library services to neighborhoods across the City of Boston. A few weeks ago, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), along with the American Library Association (ALA), awarded eight library buildings across the country with their annual AIA/ALA Library Building Award. Two of those eight buildings recognized were City of Boston projects: the East Boston Branch and the Central Library Renovation were recipients of the award, and we couldn’t be prouder.
This $10 million investment in the Jamaica Plain library is just a start. We’re spending $14 million in fiscal year 2018 alone on planned library projects across the city. That’s not all — we’ve committed an additional $102 million in funding for our library projects across the city for fiscal years 2019 through 2022, bringing quality library services to every neighborhood in Boston.
There’s something special about seeing a project that touches so many people, and has had so much community engagement, come to life. I’d like to thank everyone who joined us at the 30 South St. ribbon cutting, and look forward to seeing all residents enjoy this library.
If you’re interested in following the progress of other Boston Public Library projects, visit bpl.org/branches/branch_capital_projects.htm.