The first new library in 20 years is being built in Springfield, Massachusetts. The $10 million project is being paid for by the state and the city while a campaign to raise additional public funds passed a milestone.
The Springfield Library Foundation launched a $2 million fundraising campaign a year ago to support a new East Forest Park Branch Library and last week announced it crossed the halfway point with a $100,000 donation from the Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation.
"We are not that big, so that is pretty generous giving on our part," said William Wagner, president of the Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation. He made the announcement in the cramped space of the existing East Forest Park Library in a strip mall storefront.
" Its fun being Santa Claus," joked Wagner.
He said the board of the private foundation determined the Springfield library project satisfied its philanthropic mission to support programs and projects that benefit the elderly or children.
"It is important for each generation to do something special for the next," said Wagner.
Construction of the new library started this month. The project received a $4.9 million grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in 2017 and the Springfield City Council voted to authorize a matching amount through borrowing.
The funds being raised by the Promised Realized Campaign will be used to furnish and equip the new library, according to Springfield Library Foundation President Patrick Markey.
" We are going to have a library. But if it is with all the bells and whistles the people have been asking for and deserve, it is going to take a little more money," said Markey, who added he was very confident the $2 million goal would be reached.
A $200,000 contribution from the MassMutual Foundation jump-started the fundraising campaign, which is now encouraging pledges from residents of East Forest Park to support their neighborhood library.
" In order for ordinary people to give bigger gifts than they think they can give, they've agreed to give the same amount over the course of five years," explained Markey. " So all the money won't be there, but all the pledges will be in."
With 17,000 square feet of space, the new library will be four-times the size of the existing facility. Springfield City Library Director Molly Fogarty said it will be a state-of-the-art library with special areas for children, teens, and adults, dozens of public computers, 3-D printers, flat screen monitors, and collaborative workspaces.
"There is no other library that I know of in Massachusetts that has the kind of equipment we are going to have and the opportunities we will be providing with all the space we will have available, " said Fogarty.
Mayor Domenic Sarno said the new library will be another testament to the resiliency of the East Forest Park Neighborhood which was rebuilt after the 2011 tornado.
"It just makes for a wonderful community that people can continue to be proud of and raise their families," said Sarno.
A formal groundbreaking ceremony for the new library is scheduled for October 15th.