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With new building mission accomplished, Erving library director retiring


  • Erving’s new library on Care Drive opened at the beginning of March, but was only open for 10 days before the COVID-19 crisis caused it to close. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/24/2020 12:50:00 PM
Modified: 4/24/2020 12:49:47 PM

ERVING — When Library Director Barbara Friedman landed her job with the Erving Public Library in 2008, she anticipated staying in the role for just a few years, and retiring by the time she turned 62.

Now, after an unexpected 11½ years, Friedman is retiring. Her last day is June 24.

Friedman’s major project in Erving was seeing through the creation of the new library, which opened on Care Drive last month after nine years of paperwork, negotiations and waiting lists for grant funding, and one year of construction. She also lent her five decades of experience to younger library directors in the area, and has personally mentored four assistants at the Erving Public Library who went on to become librarians.

Erving originally hired Friedman in October 2008 on a part-time basis. At the time, she had recently retired from the Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster, where she lives. She had a 40-year career as a librarian behind her, having worked at universities and public and private libraries, and had established several new libraries herself.

Friedman said she planned to stay in Erving for just a few years. However, the job ended up lasting several years longer than planned, she said, because it became an opportunity to direct the design of a new library building.

“I love construction. I love design,” she noted.

Friedman had previously set up a library for the New England Bible Institute in Uxbridge and a private library for a family in Weston; she had also consulted on new libraries in Athol, Hopkinton and Lancaster.

The process typically takes about 10 years, she said. Erving began talking with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in 2010. Coordinating grant funding and design work took until February 2018, construction began in March 2019 and the building had its soft opening last month.

Less than two weeks later, however, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government began shutting down non-essential business. Erving’s new library closed after being open for only 10 days, with no clear idea of when it will be able to reopen.

A grand opening that had been set for March 29 has been tentatively rescheduled for June 21. Some of the planned events have been rearranged to work remotely. For example, a performance with musician Rob Fletcher is still happening remotely on May 3 at 3 p.m.

The library’s staff is still working its normal hours. There is still administrative work, and some library services can still be done remotely, Friedman said. There is now a weekly story hour through the Erving Public Library’s Facebook page, for example.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back, but I’m thrilled that I got 10 wonderful days in my new library,” Friedman said.

Erving’s Library Trustees have 17 candidates for the position, Friedman said, and a new search committee had its first meeting last week.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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