On Tuesday, Framingham’s new McAuliffe branch library will be officially open. (There was an open house yesterday.) This is big news for Framingham, especially for those residents who rarely venture south of route nine (the north part is the nice part, you know—probably going back to Puritan days, as well as being the location of our local Levittown).
The old McAuliffe branch was in Saxonville, and it’s been around for a long time. It’s also about the size of my house, maybe even just the first floor of my house. It’s a metal-shed looking building with no function rooms and no lobby to speak of. It had its advantages. The percentage of kids’ books on the shelves that were something we might want to borrow was higher than at the main library, probably in part because older books were culled more frequently, and because fewer people used it, the shelves were less frequently picked over. A couple of weeks ago, most of the books were packed up, so the branch has been out of commission for a little while, but by now they’ve been moved to the new library, which is quite a bit larger and more functional.
And this is especially good news, because Framingham has been having library issues for a while. Infrastructure work has made Saxonville hard to get to, as one bridge and then another has been closed for two years or more each. The latest one has been the bridge over the falls closest to the library, which means you can’t go straight through the Saxonville intersection to get there. Not a big deal, I guess, unless you’re already in Saxonville, or when you get stuck at a light.
Normally, there is the main library, which is about the same distance from my house, and which I usually go to anyway. But the main library is closed now, too. While doing renovations on the building, an electrical fire was accidentally started, burning some workers and forcing the building to shut down until the fixes are made. Tutoring and elder services have been moved to other organizations’ buildings; concerts have been moved around, as well; a bunch of kids’ activities have been canceled or moved. A pop-up library has opened around the corner, with a teeny-tiny collection of books. (I don’t know where the turtle is.) Reserves and requests can be picked up only at the McAuliffe.
This happens only a year after the new entrance and parking lot were opened. A couple of years ago, the three-level parking garage was declared unsafe, and was torn down. This took place just ten years after the previous time the garage had been declared unsafe and closed for two years. Now it’s been replaced with an outdoor lot, with a new entrance, pretty landscaping, an outdoor seating area, bus shelter, and improved access ramp. But the library itself is closed to the public, until—hopefully—April.
The new branch is near Nobscot, and probably closer to my house than the old one, though I expect it’ll take longer to get there, because it has some of the worst traffic in town. Both areas could use a little revitalizing; the shopping center across the street from the old location is largely empty; I had heard a few years ago that Nobscot had the same problem, but from the street it looks relatively bustling to me.