A librarian tidies up the temporary shelves at the end of the day. Photos by Alex Oliveira
By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Since the Sherborn Library closed for extensive renovations in December 2016, the library’s collection and staff have found a welcoming temporary home in the Sherborn Community Center.
“The Community Center has been very kind to us, letting us integrate ourselves into their space,” Said Liz Rowland, the library’s Assistant Director.
When a visitor opens the doors of the Community Center today, it isn’t a pair of expectant ballrooms that greets them, but a compact and miniaturized version of the full Sherborn Library. Past the front desk and down the main hall, what was once the Community Center’s first-floor event room is now lined with tall bookshelves to the left, and computers, desks, magazines and more books to the right. They even brought along the telescope and the 3D printer.
“We’ve certainly had to pare down our selection and tighten up what we can have available, but we’ve been extremely lucky to get a space like this,” Rowland said. “I know plenty of other places that have wound up in trailers during their transitions, so we’re very, very lucky.”
A book-lined Community Center may be a new sight for today’s eyes, but it’s nothing new to the walls of the space itself. In fact, the Library’s residence is something of a homecoming for the organization.
“The Community Center is a building that the library inhabited back around 1858, so we decided to come back to where the library started out in this town,” said Library Director Elizabeth Johnston.
Back then, the Community Center building was Sherborn’s Town Hall (known as the Town House); as per New England tradition, the town housed its library alongside its legislation. For 56 years, the library lived on inside the Town House, moving in 1914 to the Dowse Library building, where it would reside for another 56 years, finally settling in its modern home (now under renovation) in 1970. Back in its original home while it’s current is being modernized, the poetry of that narrative circle is not lost on the community.
“People are responding to it like, ‘Oh this reminds me of my childhood library!’, and ‘It’s so cozy and old fashioned!’ We’ve really set it up so that its very appealing, even though its tiny,” Johnston said.
Largely untouched since its construction in 1970, the new library is being revamped and modernized. An elevator is being added to make the whole building accessible to all, and 8,000 square feet for a children’s room and a meeting room have been added to the space. Estimates from the construction team say the library should be able to move back home in June 2019. Until then, though, both the library and the people of Sherborn seem to feel right at home in Community Center.
“We’re still doing story time and still doing adult programs, and everybody looks out the window and they can see the new roof going on the building that’s being renovated, so I think it’s been perfect,” explained Johnston. “If the Community Center Foundation didn’t allow us to rent this space, I don’t know where the library would have moved to.”