Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined Boston Public Library (BPL) officials and Roslindale community members to highlight the start of construction for renovation of the Roslindale Branch. The $10.2 million renovation will reconfigure and update of the interior of the building, providing a larger community room with updated AV equipment, a quiet reading room, a dedicated teen space with two small study rooms, and an outdoor reading terrace. Construction will begin in the coming weeks and will conclude in 2021.
“The Roslindale branch library is one of our busiest and most-loved libraries in Boston, and I’m proud we are able to invest in making this community space an even better home to all,” said Mayor Walsh. “To the community: this is your library. Our incredible partners have made this work possible, and I look forward to the entire community enjoying this space.”
The design process, launched in fiscal year 2017, is led by Leers Weinzapfel Associates in partnership with the BPL, the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Department, and the community. The design process was informed by a community programming study and a community review process completed in 2013.
The project is a complete renovation and transformation of the entire 1960’s library into a 21st century library and community space. The new welcoming entry, semi-circular open reading space, redesigned community room, reading room, and conference room, and computer stations, along with an urban reading garden will revitalize this important community resource, will provide community members with an inspiring place to learn and gather.
“We’re grateful to Mayor Walsh for his continued significant investments in the BPL. Each branch renovation we complete strengthens the neighborhood it serves,” said BPL President David Leonard. “This continuing transformation of the library system means that the BPL spaces will be better able to serve all of our residents, wherever they are in life, connecting them with resources they may need, whether that’s an ESL class, a job skills workshop, or simply a recommendation for their next favorite book, and as always, a community hub that is free to all.”
The renovation will include new roofing; new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; and a completely reconfigured interior that takes advantage of the historical features of the library’s original design, such as the central dome with clerestory lighting. A new central point circulation desk under the dome will provide easier access to library staff for patrons. The semi-circular shaped open reading space will provide greater overall visibility while keeping separate areas for adults, teens, and children.
All aspects of the library will be made accessible including the new canopy covered entry, which eliminates outside steps and ramps and provides universal access to the library at grade for all members of the public. Once inside, a gently sloped walkway leads patrons to the library’s main spaces. A new elevator will make the existing basement space accessible to library staff and will also include storage spaces for community organizations such as the library’s Friends group and the Roslindale Historical Society.
A bright, multi-colored entry wall of terracotta baguettes will maintain the library’s iconic blue color scheme while representing the diversity of the neighborhood and alluding to the shelved books inside, waiting for eager readers. An intimate reading garden, slightly elevated from the street level, with a wood deck and seating, sheltered by landscaping and fencing, will provide a pleasant outdoor reading area in the midst of the busy center of the Roslindale community.
While the Roslindale Branch is closed for renovations, it welcomes patrons to go to the nearby Jamaica Plain Branch, the Hyde Park Branch, and the West Roxbury Branch. In addition, The Friends of the Roslindale Branch also started a “Little Free Libraries” initiative to keep books available in the neighborhood during construction.
Mayor Walsh’s FY2020 capital budget invests more than $127 million over the next five years to reimagine Boston’s branch libraries and critical departments at the Central Library in Copley Square.