BERLIN – Dozens of local officials and community members celebrated the start of construction of the town’s new library this week.
Worcester County officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for the new $6.4 million Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library set to open on Harrison Avenue in 2018. The state-of-the-art 12,000 square foot facility, to be located on ground that was once part of the famed Harrison Nurseries, will replace the long outgrown building on Main Street.
“It seems fitting this is where the new library will be,” said Jennifer Ranck, director of the Worcester County Library. “Instead of growing fruit trees we’ll be growing readers. We’ll be producing thinkers and cultivating lifelong learning.”
The new library, which is expected to open to the public in the summer of 2018, will feature roughly four times the floor space of the existing facility and will include a community meeting room as well as expanded areas for children and teens. Though a much enjoyed, homey space, the current library—built in 1970 on property owned by the Berlin Fire Company—has struggled for years to accommodate its many visitors.
Officials commended the added opportunities library patrons would have in the new facility.
“It’s a public asset and a very greatly needed public space for our town,” Mayor Gee Williams said.
He praised the design of the new branch, which has been described as a high performance building.
“That is it’s going to consume less energy and be much more cost effective,” Williams said. “It also is a library that complements the historic architecture of our community which is very important to our revitalization and our future pride.”
Williams pointed out that the library would be completed just as the town celebrated an important moment in its history.
“It actually is marking the beginning of a new era in the town of Berlin,” he said. “That’s not just hyperbole. It’s real. Next year, when this library comes to reality for our community, it will be in the 150th anniversary of our town…This library, this facility, is coming in a time and place—when and where—it should be. Where it’s meant to be.”
Jim Bunting, president of the Worcester County Commissioners, also spoke highly of the project. He said county officials were proud of the facility, as it would be an addition to the community that would be used by young and old alike. He thanked everyone involved in making the new building possible.
“There was a lot of people involved in this,” he said. “It wouldn’t have happened without a lot of work.”