Renovation FAQ’s

Abbot Public Library Renovation Campaign FAQs

“What is more important in a library than anything else—than everything else—is the fact that it exists.”                                                                                                           Archibald MacLeish


Why bother with this project? Aren't libraries outdated and unnecessary? Who even reads books any more anyway?

Recent research from the American Enterprise Institute shows that having a library in your community could change your life. Living close to public amenities--like the Abbot Library--increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government.

According to the American Library Association, there are more than 17,000 public libraries alone in the USA—that’s more public libraries than there are Starbucks! On average more than 4 million people walk through their doors every day. Libraries are relevant!

And the library is about a lot more than books. It is a gathering place. The Teen and Childrens’ rooms weave generations together. Last year alone, the library sponsored 537 programs in the Meeting Room.It is an art gallery. The Carten Gallery is often used for art shows for students, amateurs and professionals. It is a town archive. The Marblehead Room holds materials relating to the Town’s history, institutions, organizations, and town government. Included are histories, maps, a Marblehead newspaper clipping file, many works of Marblehead authors and numerous other items such as yearbooks and genealogies. You can trace your family’s history through our new digital archive of the “Marblehead Messenger” and the “Marblehead Reporter” from 1871-1976. And in addition to books, you can borrow CDs, DVDs, ebooks , audiobooks, and periodicals, not just from Abbot Library but from many libraries on the North Shore through NOBLE (the North of Boston Library Exchange). All for free!

The funding of major upgrades will ensure that the library will continue to be an asset.


Why is this project necessary now? What happens if we do nothing? What about short-term fixes?

The Town of Marblehead faces critical infrastructure needs at the Abbot Library. The library was last updated in 1989, and we are at a juncture which requires upgrades and improvements of systems that are 30 years old. Short term fixes are no longer adequate to sustain our facility. With major upgrades and replacements of the HVAC, fire alarm and protection, ADA access/stairs, electrical and elevator, the library will continue to be an asset and not a liability to the town.


What is the scope of the project?

The $9.5 million renovation project will not only upgrade and replace aging and failing systems but will also simultaneously redesign and reallocate space to make it more efficient, more welcoming and more able to meet the demands of the 21stcentury. The proposed initiative will not enlarge the library’s footprint yet will totally transform the space inside with expanded and robust technology, learning nooks, a fireside reading and café area, a teen section, a “maker space” project room, a business center, a quiet reading room, and access to the beautiful garden.

In addition to the $9.5M renovation project, the Trustees are raising an additional $2M to be held in the Abbot Public Library Foundation as a quasi-endowment for the library.


What will we be voting on at Town Meeting?

The language in the warrant reads as follows:

“To see if the Town will vote to raise, appropriate & apply a sum of money for renovating, remodeling, reconstructing & replacing infrastructure to the existing Town building known & identified as ABBOT PUBLIC LIBRARY, & to determine whether this appropriation shall be raised by borrowing or otherwise, or by taking any other action relative thereto.

PROBABLE RECOMMENDATION that a sum not greater than  $9,500,000 be appropriated ($1,000,000 of which will be provided by the Abbot Public Library Foundation)”


What improvements to the facility are included?

Infrastructure/Systems (HVAC, Electrical, Fire Protection, Elevator, Plumbing, Parking), Building, Renovation, Furnishings, Equipment, Project Costs (Professionals, Contingencies, survey, testing, etc.)

The Abbot Public Library Advocacy Committee has also been meeting with the Water and Sewer Commission to coordinate the timing of a planned installation of a catch basin, scheduled and budgeted for 2024. The goal is to make the project concurrent with the library work.


There is not enough parking at the library. How does this project address that issue?

The proposed project includes an improved layout of the current parking lot that will yield additional spots. Like many communities, we rely on ample street parking within walking distance to the library. And for those who use public transportation, there is a bus stop directly in front of the library.


Is there funding set aside to properly maintain the library and how will it be implemented?

We have learned through this process that the town does not have a budget line item for significant building maintenance. While the library trustees will set up a complete maintenance plan, the majority of which will be covered by the library’s annual budget, we will also continue to work with the town administrator on establishing ongoing maintenance needs. The Campaign calls for a $2M quasi-endowment fund to be established at the Abbot Public Library Foundation, (the nonprofit arm of the Library) that will be administered by the Board of the Fund, for the purpose of funding needed additional maintenance, upgrading technology in a timely fashion and considering parking options as they might arise in the future.