Building Program for the East Bridgewater Public Library

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Executive Summary

III. Community Description and Demographics

IV. History of the Library

V. The Library Today

A. Library’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values

B. The Role of the Library in East Bridgewater

C.  Collection Analysis

D. Planning Efforts

E.  Existing Structure

F. Deficiencies

VI. Needs Assessment

VII. Specific Area Descriptions

VIII. Construction Options

I. Introduction

The world of library services has entered the digital age, expanding services through Internet databases, online catalogues and downloadable content. Additionally, libraries have assumed an expanded role in the community, providing spaces for civic organizations, Internet connectivity, and social services for children and young adults. This document will describe comprehensive architectural building requirements for the expansion of the East Bridgewater Public Library. Built in 1896, the library was expanded in 1978, when the town’s population was approximately 9,500. Now, with a population of nearly 14,000, the current structure of the library has become inadequate in terms of size and efficiency to support current and future library services.  East Bridgewater residents have held a vision of a modern public library for many years. The people of East Bridgewater would benefit greatly by a library renovation that meets these needs.

The location of the library is a very important part of this process. The current building is situated in the geographic and social center of town, in close proximity to schools, post office, local businesses, and town hall.  The library building should remain in the community center of East Bridgewater to stay inviting, welcoming, and accessible.

Although there is great affection for the history and architecture of the old Library, the current structure and addition added in 1978 is functionally inadequate. It prevents the achievement of many of the goals and objectives as outlined in our strategic plan. East Bridgewater Public Library’s mission statement focuses on a commitment to serving all residents of the community. Deficiencies in our current facility prohibit the fulfillment of this mission.

One of the great aspirations of East Bridgewater Public Library is to be the destination for all age groups.  It is imperative to see this translated into the design of the building. The library must offer services and collections that are accessible to everyone in a setting that is appealing, inspiring, and enriching. The library’s mission is to welcome the community and invite them to stay by offering captivating gathering places, age specific social areas and tranquil private spaces for quiet study. With this consensus, we can collectively build an eco-friendly, economical, comfortable, and practical community library that will be enjoyed for many generations.

II. Executive Summary

The face of the 1896 East Bridgewater Public Library reflects the illustrious past of the Town and is highly valued by its citizens. Despite an addition in 1978, the library suffers from inadequacies of size and thus, function. There is a woeful lack of accessibility and space. The children’s area and the large meeting room are relegated to the basement. The staff workspace and the director’s office are miniscule. There are no inviting areas for Internet access. Despite these disadvantages East Bridgewater Public Library has developed programs that are quite popular for all age groups but are seriously limited in attendance by space.

It is well known that today’s libraries are challenged to change with the continuously evolving needs of its patrons. Our library must not only update what currently exists but also create new spaces designed specifically for young adults, children, and make available both large and small meeting spaces that bring the community together.

The East Bridgewater Public Library’s building plan takes into account the remediation of the current building and provides for a facility that can meet the needs of the community for decades to come.

III. Community Description & Demographics

The Town of East Bridgewater is a medium sized residential community located in the northwest corner of Plymouth County in Southeastern Massachusetts.  The town has a total area of 17.5 square miles and is bordered by the towns of Whitman to the north, Hansen to the east, Bridgewater to the south and West Bridgewater and Brockton to the west.  The major roads that run through East Bridgewater are State Routes 18,104, and 106.  The town is generally level, with no high hills, but has several tracts of elevated land. Robbins Pond is located in the southeast corner of East Bridgewater and comprises one hundred and twenty-five acres.  The Satucket River originates at Robbins Pond and joins the Matfield River at the south point of Whitman’s Neck as it runs through Town into Bridgewater. Elmwood Village is a small hamlet in the southwest corner of East Bridgewater.

As of 1723, East Bridgewater was a part of Old Bridgewater and was known as the “east” parish. It officially separated and became incorporated on June 14, 1823.  The economy of East Bridgewater at that time was based upon both agriculture and industry. Iron works provided muskets and cannons during the American Revolution. In the late 19th and early 20th century residential development came along the trolley lines in the community. The Bridgewater Branch Railroad was constructed from Whitman through East Bridgewater and further stimulated industrial growth, and the town became an important site of boot and shoe manufacturing and textile mills. Further population expansion followed the Second World War.

The 2010 census gave the population of East Bridgewater as 13,794, an increase of 6% from the 2000 census. At that time, East Bridgewater ranked 144th out of 351 communities in the Commonwealth in population between the average and the median, and 134th in terms of population density, just below the mean. Within Plymouth County, the town ranked 15th of 27 towns by population and twelfth by population density. Town officials expect only modest increases in population over the next few decades. The Massachusetts Population Projection from the UMASS Donahue Institute predicts a growth to 14,887 by 2030. The Town Clerk of East Bridgewater estimates a population of 15,000 in 2034. A lack of efficient road access to major highways will limit commercial development. Lack of available land for residential development will result in this slow growth rate.  The location of the library and its outstanding services stimulates a considerable number of residents from surrounding towns to use its services.

At $60,311, the median household income is slightly less than the state median ($67,307).  Residents are 96.91% White, 0.99% African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Eighty-two percent of housing units are owner occupied, well above the state figure of 62.3%.  An average house in East Bridgewater has 6.2 rooms, is 36 years old and has a tax value of $172,200.

East Bridgewater is governed locally by the open town meeting form of government, led by a board of selectmen.  East Bridgewater has its own school system for the town’s approximately 2,500 students. The Central School serves students from pre-kindergarten through second grade. The Gordon W. Mitchell Middle School, located to the east of the town center, serves third through six grade students. The new East Bridgewater Junior/High School opened in 2013 and serves seventh through twelfth grade students.

The following demographic information is provided by the UMASS Donahue Institute Massachusetts Population Projections:

East Bridgewaters population: past, present, and projected



IV. History of the Library

A donation from Cyrus Washburn allowed the building of the East Bridgewater Public Library.  Mr. Washburn was born in East Bridgewater on November 6, 1812 and was a successful businessman. At the time of the donation, Mr. Washburn resided in Wellesley Hills, MA but desired to make a gift to the residents of East Bridgewater.  Originally, Mr. Washburn planned to donate the money to be held in a trust, with the actual structure to be erected after his death. However, he reversed his decision in order to see the building completed during his lifetime.

The construction of the East Bridgewater Public Library began in 1896 and was completed in 1897 at the cost of $10,000. Architect W.V. Howard of Brockton designed the building.  The building is located on the former site of St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, which was lost in a fire in 1893. The original structure of the public library was 6,240 square feet.

Renovations were made to the children’s room in 1937 under a Federal Works Project at a cost of $7,000.  In 1972, the Town of East Bridgewater voted to purchase the land adjacent to the public library in order to expand the building and parking lot.  An addition of 9,760 square feet was completed in 1978, thus enlarging the public library to a total of 16,000 square feet.  The addition included a community room for the residents of East Bridgewater to congregate, increased shelving for adult materials, an elevator, and expanded storage facilities. The most recent renovation, in 2009, brought the library’s first functioning circulation desk.

A board of six library trustees elected by the townspeople governs the East Bridgewater Public Library.  The Board of Trustees’ authority is consequent from Chapter 78, Sections 10 and 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The Library Director is appointed by the Trustees and is responsible for library management, collection development, and the annual budget.

In December 2013, the East Bridgewater Public Library, with the support of the Board of Library Trustees, applied for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Planning & Design Grant to investigate and form a plan to enhance the library.  This plan allows the library to determine the feasibility of renovating the existing facility, and instituting new construction.  This grant awarded $50,000 from the state to undertake this project.  At its June 2013 Annual Town Meeting, the citizens of East Bridgewater voted to authorize $25,000 towards the grant, and voted to accept and expend the state funds.  The Planning & Design Grant application for East Bridgewater Public Library was approved in June 2014.  The Board of Library Trustees will act as the building authority for the duration of the grant. The East Bridgewater Public Library Building Needs Committee was formed, comprised of eight community members, trustees, library staff, and the library director. The committee oversees the planning and design process, including the selection of the site, the needs assessment, the project manager, and the architect.

V. The Library Today

A. Library’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values

Our Mission

The East Bridgewater Public Library serves the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs of our community by providing access to professional staff and the highest levels of materials, programs, and library services in a welcoming environment.   The public library intends to be the complete civic, educational, cultural and recreational resource for each citizen of East Bridgewater.

Our Vision

The East Bridgewater Public Library will be the complete civic, educational, cultural and recreational resource for every citizen of East Bridgewater.

Our Core Values

  • Maintaining an institution of excellence in customer service
  • Administering, supporting, and advocating access to all
  • Acting with leadership, creativity, and resilience
  • Finding innovative ways to incorporate technology into integral services
  • Bringing more sense of community to the Town of East Bridgewater
  • Keeping local history alive
  • Using sound financial management and support to insure efficient and effective services
  • Working collectively, with devotion and confidence, to accomplish goals and objectives
  • Practicing responsible stewardship of resources

B. The Role of the Library in East Bridgewater

The library is open six days (51 hours) each week. On average, 1,700 patrons use the library weekly. In the fiscal year ending 2013, circulation reached 98,137.  The print collections include 25,965 children’s materials and 26,471 items for adults.  Non-print materials such as compact disks, downloadable audiobooks, DVDs, and Blu Ray titles add approximately 3,700 more items to the physical collection.  The librarians continuously trim the collection to conserve space.  For almost every new item purchased, one is removed from the collection. Computer usage continues to grow each year.

Visitors come to the library to use our free Internet access, borrow materials, attend programs, accompany their children to story times, and obtain information of all types.  The majority of our reference services are provided online.  The Library and Commonwealth offer an expanding list of online subscription databases, which provide relevant access and respectable information.

A vital service in both our Adult and Children’s Departments is advising patrons.  Children and their parents visit East Bridgewater Public Library for help with school assignments, readers advisory, utilizing computers, borrowing materials, attending story times, and other programs.  With the increased cost in education, distance learning has become an important resource for our community.

There are 8,420 registered borrowers at East Bridgewater Public Library, of which 7,482 are residents of the community.  The Children’s Department offers weekly toddler and preschool story times, monthly craft programs, an annual summer reading program and programs for children & families.  There were 312 programs sponsored by the Children’s Department last year with 5,688 attendees.

One of East Bridgewater Public Library’s goals is to offer more adult programming. In 2013, there were 16 adult programs held, ranging from resume workshops, a haunted history of Massachusetts, local author speaking engagements, and aspiring authors workshops. A total of 677 adults attended these programs.

The East Bridgewater Public Library offers Internet access for all patrons and visitors with Wi-Fi devices at no charge. There are four computer workstations located on the first floor adjacent to the circulation desk. The library’s user-friendly website is hosted by the SAILS network and was designed by a local web marketing business.

C. Collection Analysis

East Bridgewater Public Library has the reputation of having the best collection of popular titles in the area.  The library also serves as an educational resource for independent learning and school assignments.  Residents and those of surrounding communities heavily use our compilation of audio materials.  With the extinction of VHS and the burgeoning collection of DVD and Blu Ray, the library is at capacity for collection expansion and shelving.  There is no floor or wall space to expand these popular collections.  This suppresses the library’s mission of providing the highest levels of library services to our community.

As of June 30, 2014, the library owns 55,077 books, of which 25,965 are children’s titles, as well as 3,352 audio materials and 2,606 titles on DVD and Blu Ray.  The library currently holds 102 periodical subscriptions and nine museum passes. Patrons have access to a catalog of over 10,000 downloadable audiobooks and eBooks through our membership in the SAILS network.

East Bridgewater Public Library has an excellent fiction/non-fiction collection, reflecting a diversity of reading interests, which require continual weeding due to space constraints. The new arrival section, located near the circulation desk, is a favorite stop for patrons.  Non-Fiction suffers due to the location of the collection on the second floor and the consistent weeding process.  Libraries have seen a tremendous increase of audio/video materials over the past ten years. As a result of this, print collections are being reduced.  The library’s print collection has decreased by 15% in the past decade. Demand for audio/video has increased each year. If the library had space to add more audio/video, circulation statistics would escalade immensely. East Bridgewater Public Library has completely weeded out the VHS collection and added Blu Ray.

The library’s children’s collection is heavily used and quite large. Materials are divided in several categories: board books, picture books, juvenile fiction & non-fiction, chapter books, parenting, easy readers, multimedia kits, DVDs, audio CDs, periodicals, and developmental toys for preschoolers.

The library has four public computers for Internet, word processing, and browsing the online catalog.  The number of computers is far below the Wisconsin Public Library Standards and fails to meet the needs of the community.  The library does have software for patrons to make reservations for the next available computer.  However, patrons tend to get frustrated due to the excessive wait time and will travel to other libraries to use their computers.

The Library maintains a historical collection focusing on East Bridgewater and surrounding communities. The collection is used for research and is very popular to our patrons and visitors. Unfortunately, the room is not ADA compliant and suffers from a lack of heating/cooling ventilation.

Collection Projection


Adult Books26,47134,650

Young Adult Books2,6414,000

Children’s Books25,96522,000

Periodical Subscriptions102150

Audio Disc (Audiobooks & CDs)2,5455,500

Audio/Video (DVD, Blu Ray)2,6065,700

D. Planning Efforts

The planning efforts for the expansion of the East Bridgewater Public Library began in 1972. The town voted to purchase land adjacent to the library to expand the building and parking lot.  An addition of 9,760 square feet was constructed, thus enlarging the library to a total of 16,000 square feet.  The addition provided a community room for meeting space, air conditioning for select areas, additional shelving for adult materials, an elevator, and increased storage space.

Since that time the Board of Library Trustees and the Town of East Bridgewater have worked successfully to accommodate the increasing deficiencies of the library without incurring large capital expenses. 2009 saw the construction of the library’s first circulation/reference desk.  In 2012, the Trustees realized they could no longer delay major capital improvements to the library facility.  The Board of Library Trustees revisited the planning process by requesting and receiving town funds for feasibility, engineering, architectural, and cost studies relating to the expansion or new construction for the East Bridgewater Public Library.

The East Bridgewater Public Library Building Needs Committee formed in 2014 and includes two library trustees, two staff, the town facilities manager, a resident who is a library director in another town, and a local business owner. The town administrator, police and fire chief are ex officio members on the committee.  The committee interviewed staff and patrons and administered an online survey to the citizens of East Bridgewater.  The survey conveyed to the committee that a new or renovated East Bridgewater Public Library should contain:

  • An alternate entrance/exit for drivers to enter the parking lot.
  • A larger, more convenient meeting room that can be used by local groups in addition to library sponsored programs.
  • A Young Adult room with a welcoming environment.
  • Study rooms for patrons seeking quiet space.
  • A larger Children’s room that reflects on current and anticipated future usage.
  • Additional computers for the public in the adult, young adult, and children’s areas.

E. Existing Structure

The East Bridgewater Public Library is a brick building situated on Union Street in the center of town.  The library has two floors and a basement, totaling 16,000 square feet. The following complications impact greatly on the library’s ability to deliver quality library services to the entire community.

There are four entrances into the current building. The 1896 section of the structure has a doorway that is considered the main entrance into the library. However, the majority of patrons enter through the remaining three doorways, as they are adjacent to the library’s parking lot. One entrance is composed of nine cement steps descending down to the children’s room.  Another has eight cement steps that lead into the library’s meeting room. None of the entrances are completely ADA compliant. The entrance most frequently used is only partially handicapped  accessible and is closest to the parking lot.

Original Library First Floor

Circulation and Reference services are located on the main level in addition to new arrivals, adult fiction, paperbacks, audio/video, newspapers, fax & copy machine, a public printer, and several wireless hubs, which provide free wireless access throughout the Library. The circulation desk was constructed in 2009 and is considered the “hub” of the library. Check-in/check-out procedures are performed here, as are patron registrations and museum passes.  This area serves as work/office space for the Circulation Supervisor and three library assistants.

The periodicals are located in an alcove.  Community and library bulletin boards are located on the main floor adjacent to the staff workroom, and in the main foyer entrance.



The library director’s office is located off the main lobby in a small room.  The small office space prohibits the library director from conducting any size group management activities. There is barely room for one guest. The small space prohibits the director to have a proper desk and storage for work. It is not heated.


Also off the main lobby is the Millet Room, named after the famous artist, and town resident, Francis Davis Millet. Notably, Mr. Millet died in the sinking of the Titanic but his body was eventually recovered and rests in nearby Central Cemetery. The Millet Room houses the library’s large print collection and showcases artwork from Mr. Millet.

The Aquarium Reading Room is a small area adjacent to the circulation desk that houses daily newspapers. The centerpiece of the room is a fish tank that is very popular with children.


The main entrance, part of the 1978 addition, is a ramp with cinder block walls, and no view of the interior of the library except at the top. Several stairs leading to it outside are not handicapped accessible.



The Technical Services librarian and Administrative Assistant occupy the small staff workroom. With poor ventilation and limited electrical units, there is ongoing frustration with staff and their ability to provide the highest level of library services.


The library has room for only four Internet computers for the public. Frustrated patrons are now using other libraries that have more accessible computers. An update in electrical service, and more space would be required to provide additional computer workstations. There is a general lack of electrical outlets throughout the building.

There are five shelving units dedicated to young adult patrons on the first floor. Lack of space has resulted in the non-fiction young adult collection being integrated into the adult non-fiction. There is no teen designated, dedicated social space.


Second Floor

The second level of the building contains the non-fiction collection, two storage closets, a small room used for staff breaks and the library’s historical room.


The second floor storage space overflows with library supplies


The tiny staff break room can fit only a small table with no sink and has no heat.


The library’s historical room is extremely compact, has no heat, and is not handicapped accessible. This is where the Board of Library Trustees holds meetings.


Lower Level

The lower level of the building contains the meeting room, public restrooms, utility rooms, and the children’s room.

The children’s room is an uninviting room that is outfitted to capacity. There are cement poles in the middle of the room that support the main and second floor of the building. Seating is limited to two small tables for preschoolers.  Shelving is primarily around the perimeter of the room, with an assortment of mismatched bookshelves handling the overflow.  Preschool story time takes place on rugs in the corner of the children’s room.   One of the most important goals of the East Bridgewater Public Library is to excel with programs and services for children.  There are many children’s programs throughout the year and a successful summer reading program geared to teens & children. Our programs are so popular that the library has to turn away families because of the large meeting room capacity limit (80).

The “large” meeting room is also located in the lower level at the west end of the 1978 addition. It contains no storage space, only access to the building’s heating unit and other utilities. It provides auditorium seating for 80 with pillars obstructing views. It has low ceilings common to the cellar. It also serves to house book stacks for sales by the Friends of the Library, and children’s’ program activities.



F. Deficiencies

1. Adequate and observable access to the Library:

    • The facility does not meet current ADA standards and regulations.
    • All four of the entrances are out of view of library staff.
  • Heating and cooling is uneven throughout the facility, resulting in discomfort for patrons and staff.

2. Space for current and future needs:

    • There are no quiet study rooms for the public.
  • There is minimal space for study or research.
    • The absence of a Young Adult room makes the library unappealing to young adults.
    • There is cramped storage space for supplies, seasonal items.
  • A confined workroom slows down the processing of books.
    • There is no storage space for tables and chairs in the meeting room.
    • There are no separate office areas for Department Heads i.e. Reference, Children’s, Circulation, and Administration.
    • There is an inadequate break room for staff.
    • There is no separate programming space for the Children’s department.
    • There is no computer equipment workroom.
  • Computer access is inadequate due to lack of room for additional computers.
    • Despite an ongoing weeding process, overcrowded and high shelves make it complicated to view and access the collection.
    • A cramped and an outdated meeting room limits attendance at programs, and sometimes results in the inability to present programs.
    • Crowded conditions results in a Children’s department that is uncomfortable and uninviting.
  • The Historical Room is restricted and cramped.
  • Limited space does not allow displays to an optimal effect.

VI. Needs Assessment

A. General Design Requirements

An expanded library for the town of East Bridgewater should include:

  • Architectural integration with historic and newly constructed components.
  • A “green” facility, which satisfies an upper level (silver or above) LEEDS certification
  • Natural light without too much gain or loss of heat
  • Energy efficient heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and electrical systems
  • Solar sensitive artificial light with fixtures that is cost effective and efficient
  • Solar energy system
  • Complete access to all services and areas of the Library in compliance with ADA standards.
  • Comfortable and inviting atmosphere that encourages use and allows staff to oversee and supervise when necessary.
  • Operable windows for ventilation. Windows should be equipped with electric shades/screens with manual backup.
  • Community, meeting, conference, and group study spaces for formal and informal gatherings.
  • Provision for collection growth by planning for unfilled top and bottom shelves and 75% shelf capacity on opening day.
  • Sufficient storage areas.
  • Exhibit areas for local artists and artisans.
  • Vertical access: Elevators, stairs, heating and air conditioning ducts and electrical risers kept on the outskirts of the building to assure future functional flexibility.  These features should be on the side of the building yielding the least attractive view.
  • Internal flexibility to accommodate changes in collection size and type, or a change in library usage. Mobile shelving (portable shelves etc.).
  • Wire management:
  • Provide for both telephone and data communication lines that run in separate conduits and are easily accessible throughout the building.
  • Provide for wireless to encompass the facility.
  • Establish dedicated wireless service for staff.
  • Ensure sufficient Power for special areas:

Circulation/reference desk

Public computers

Computer systems room

Staffs work areas, offices

Study and meeting rooms

Security systems

  • Power outlets should be readily accessible on desks and in study areas, and be located at work level and not on the floor.
  • Security System that includes:
  • Library wide security system
  • General security system for materials,
  • Panic buttons
  • Mirrors
  • Good sight lines
  • Restrooms that are water sparing, dependable, easily maintained and meet building codes
  • A large dedicated workroom for the processing of materials
  • An acoustical design, which can allow for quiet study areas

B. Functional Relationships

In designing an expanded library building, careful consideration must be given to the locations of each functional area in relationship to the building itself and in relationship to each other.  Many of these proximities are cited in the Area Descriptions in this document.

On the entry level:


Book Return Room

Circulation/Reference desk

Technical, Administrative, Circulation offices and work space {adjacent to Circulation desk}

New Materials

Audio/Video Area

Technology Commons

Periodicals and Newspapers

Meeting Room

Conference Room

Copier/Small Business Area

Public Restrooms

Self Check Out Machine

On any level:

Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Large Print

Reference Collection

Children’s Services (including family restroom)

Young Adult Room

Staff Room

Server Room

Staff restroom

Library Storage

Utility room

Historical Room

Quiet study rooms (4)

Custodian Closet

Friends Room

VII. Specific Area Descriptions

Each service area of the building has been identified for its unique space needs.  Functional areas may be combined into common areas or exist as their own distinct space to best meet and maximize library services.

Functional Area Space: Materials, Staff Computers, Public Computers & Public Seating Summary




































VIII. Construction Options

A. New Structure at present site:

This approach would necessitate the demolition of the present structure. Since the original library is an historic building, beloved by the citizens of East Bridgewater, this is not a viable plan.

B. New Structure at alternate site:

There are two sites in East Bridgewater that could accommodate a new Library such as is described above.

1. Leland Farm site:  this site is located on 90 acres between Belmont St. and North Central St. Beaver Brook and the Matfield River subdivides the parcel. There are required setbacks from these streams and the sole access to each of two buildable parcels would require traversing wetlands.

2. Sachem Rock Farm: This parcel is located on Plymouth St. about 1 mile south of the town center. It contains a recently built Senior Center, but there are sufficient acres to the southeast of the center to accommodate a new Library such as this plan describes. Notably, Sachem Rock is said to be the site of a land transaction between Myles Standish and the Native American Massasoit.

C. Renovated Structure with new addition:

This option is considered the most ideal approach of the three. There is sufficient Town owned property to accommodate a doubling of floor space. There is a small privately owned lot that would be needed for the project. There is an abandoned railway path leading from North Central St. that could provide parking access.


The following resources were used in developing this program:

  • Library Administration and Management Association. Building Blocks for Planning Functional Library Space. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow, 2011.
  • Massachusetts Board of  Library Commissioners. Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, 2013
  • Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Library Standards. Madison, Wis: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2010.