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Recorder Staff; Friday, June 6, 2014 GREENFIELD — The state has given Greenfield $50,000 to plan how to replace or update its public library, now housed in a historic colonial home designed by the country’s first architect.
This grant will allow library stakeholders, including the Library Board of Trustees, the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library, library customers and staff, to begin the process of defining what services the library should provide, where it should be located and what it will look like.
According to Library Director Ellen Boyer, the Main Street library is busier than it has ever been. In fiscal year 2013, the library was visited 162,000 times and circulated nearly 300,000 items, which was a record number. Public Internet access computers are in constant use, and program attendance is on the rise. All this takes place in the historic Levitt-Hovey House, a wooden structure built in 1797, with east and west wings added in 1817. A masonry addition, where the collection of adult books is currently located, was constructed in 1908 when the building became the town’s public library.
“Trying to function as a 21st-century library in a building that was designed as a house when John Adams was president of the United States is extremely difficult,” said Boyer.
“There was no way 18th-century building contractors could anticipate today’s technology use and all the accompanying wiring requirements. Nor were they sensitive to the need to make a building accessible to everyone.”
Greenfield’s Comprehensive Sustainable Master Plan envisions improving the library facility to include adequate parking, accessibility and a community gathering space.