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Planning for a possible new library in Erving

ERVING — It won’t be a reality for some time, if at all, but planning for a new library is under way.

Library Director Barbara Friedman began pursuing state aid for new space through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners planning and construction grant program this summer.

The Board of Selectmen approved the first step in September with a letter of intent to the commissioners, and Friedman and her committee of volunteers are preparing to submit a proposal for the next step in what she said could ultimately be a five to 10 year process.

The committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting Monday at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall, 12 East Main St., at which time the members will review the planning and design grant application before sending it on to the Library Commissioners through the Board of Selectmen.

That grant would provide $50,000 to study the feasibility of three options: expanding the existing library on Moore Street; renovating an existing structure in town; or building fresh.

The money is contingent on approval from the Board of Library Commissioners and from the town, with a $25,000 match required from the town.

That request would go to residents at the annual town meeting in May, Friedman said. If residents vote in the affirmative, the town could expect an answer from the Library Board in June.

Friedman said what she is asking residents to support is not their grandmothers’ library.

“We really think of ourselves more as a community center,” Friedman said.

Books are no longer the central attraction. Circulation of DVDs is equal to that of books and almost half of library users come in to use the computers, she said.

The need for space is driven more by users than the collection.

“Our teen area is the size of a telephone booth, if people remember what a telephone booth looked like, and our children’s area is the size of two telephone booths,” Friedman said.

The library’s circulation has increased 100 percent over the decade since the town’s two libraries merged in 2003, Friedman said, but the library also hosted more than 50 programs in the last year. Ten of these were too big for the library and had to be held elsewhere, outdoors or in the new senior center.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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