Open Table Drop Ins: Beginning March 26, drop by the Library on Tuesdays between 11AM and 12PM to ask the Director any questions you have about the renovation/expansion grant opportunity. This is your chance to learn more!

Since its inception, the Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library has been a cherished part of the community. The beautiful, historic library building holds a special place in the hearts of many Manchester residents. The Library, however, faces many challenges due to its size, age and especially its many accessibility issues. 

 The Library cannot truly fulfill its mission until it is ADA compliant and can provide welcoming and easy-to-navigate space for all. Libraries of today are not merely book repositories, but thriving community hubs providing access to information, resources, technology, programs, and lifelong learning opportunities with room to connect and grow. To do so, we need to renovate and expand.

Lots of kids sitting at plastic tables in front of book shelves.

The Library is currently in the process of applying for grant funding to support our renovation/expansion goals. Should we be awarded a grant, Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program grants provide up to 50% of the eligible costs. The application will be submitted in May 2024.  

Why now? 

The Library has had accessibility challenges for years and has suffered from a lack of space to provide library services, so why now? Almost 50,000 visitors used the library last year and close to 70,000 items were borrowed. 5,590 people of all ages attended over 500 programs. These numbers speak volumes about the essential nature of our library in the community. In the past year, our beautiful, historic building has shown significant age-related wear. The answer to why now is simple: grant funds are available this year. Massachusetts has a strong history of helping communities make their libraries the transformational places they can be, but grants are not available every year. Indeed, the last MPLCP funding round was in 2016. We do not want to lose out on this opportunity!

Seated and standing adults face a presenter and a screen.

Steps we have taken so far in the application process: 

  • Spring 2023: Grant round announced and the Library submitted a Letter of Intent to apply 
  • Summer 2023: The Library Foundation hired a consultant to assist with the application process 
  • Fall 2023: Our Library Consultant held focus groups and community forums to engage the community around what a future Manchester-by-the-Sea Library should be 
  • Fall/Winter 2023-24: Over 200 residents filled out a library survey to give feedback future possibilities and desired outcomes for library service 
  • Winter 2023: Working with the Library Director, and based on the community feedback, the Library Consultant is writing a Library Building Program, an important part of the application which provides the specifics about needed space to fulfill the vision of a future library 

Next steps: 

The application process requires a Library Building Program and an approved warrant article authorizing the Town to appropriate $150,000 for the planning and design phase of the project. Residents will vote on the warrant article at Town meeting in April.