Acushnet Public Library and Community Center
at the site of the former Howard School
232 Middle Road, Acushnet
The creation of the Russell Memorial Library evolved from a true sense of community and values that recognized the importance of a library as central to community life and well-being. Eighty years ago, George Russell saw the need for a growing town to have the facilities to make it a good place to live. Mr. Russell’s gift to the town of a new library was both generous and foresighted. The Russell Memorial Library has served the town well for many years and is as relevant today as it was in 1930. The library still strives to meet the community’s needs for information, education and recreation and serves to help Acushnet grow into a wonderful place to learn, work and live. The current library, however, housed in a 3,600 square foot building, was built in 1930 to serve a population of 4,092.
Acushnet has grown to over 10,000 and no additions or renovations have been made.
Established by the Town in the 19th century, given a home on Main Street in the 20th century, the Library is now ready to move forward with an improved facility to meet the community needs of the 21st century…
Better Libraries Help Build Better Communities.
The residents of Acushnet deserve a 21st century facility.
In a new location at the heart of the community with:
- Room for library collections to meet growing and new demands.
- A Children’s Room with adequate space for early learning programs that serve our young children and an expanded Young Adult area to encourage teens to use the library and indulge in the joys of reading, or gather to work on school projects.
- Comfortable seating and quiet study rooms.
- Safe off-street parking for vehicles and drive-by book drop open 24/7.
- More computers for public use and public instruction.
- Space to display the works of local artists.
- Improved work areas for staff and volunteers.
- A community program room with seating to accommodate up to one hundred and fifty people for lectures, concerts and other programs, as well as acting as a voting location for the Town.
- Complete handicap accessibility.
Project Goals and Objectives
Quality service to the entire community is a public library’s basic responsibility. Every community includes children, young adults, adults and seniors; each of these groups has needs that must be considered when developing library services. The improvements planned for the former Howard School will allow this facility to be a center of community services that reflects the diverse needs of all ages and interests. Building on past achievements, current strengths, and future aspirations to develop a facility:
1. To create a central community gathering place with information resources, educational and entertaining programs, areas for art exhibits, meeting rooms for community groups, quiet study areas, homework stations for students, and space for community discussions. A fully handicap-accessible facility will be a gathering place for all members of the community.
2. To foster life-long learning - The facility will be the learning center of our community. The Library—by building a balanced collection and The Community Center – by offering a diversity of programs--will provide the resources, technology and activities that reflect the community’s interests in history, popular culture, social trends, and recreational pursuits.
3. To provide exclusive areas for adults, children, and young adults of Acushnet to browse, read, and study. Patrons of all ages, from young children to seniors, will all be able to find an area of the library that provides a welcoming environment suited to their individual needs.
Some of the specific recommendations include:
- The building will be universally accessible so people of all physical abilities will have full and equal access to services and programs.
- Increasing the overall size of the collection to 50,400 items to meet a basic level of service.
- Building a children’s book collection that meets the critical literacy needs of early readers; the collection will grow from 9,950 to 16,175 titles.
- Defining separate areas where young children, teens, professionals, families, and seniors can use the library in a way that meets their specific needs.
- Providing a space for library-sponsored programs and for community groups to gather during or after library hours that will accommodate 150 people.
- Effectively distributing 72 seating spaces throughout the building in comfortable and convenient areas.
- Planning for off-street parking, outside book returns, and building entrances that maximize accessibility and convenience
- Clear sightlines from public service desks will give maximum supervision and greater security of the library space with minimal staffing.
- Realizing the potential for future community growth and designing a library of approx. 14,500 square feet that will serve future generations of Acushnet residents.