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Granby celebrates start of $5.1 million library project

  • Alice Stewart, who donated the four-acre parcel for the new library with husband, Fred, attended the ground breaking with her son, John.<br/><br/>ETTA WALSH

    Alice Stewart, who donated the four-acre parcel for the new library with husband, Fred, attended the ground breaking with her son, John.

    ETTA WALSH Purchase photo reprints »

  • Celebrating the start of the construction of Granby's new library, from left, are Granby librarian Janice McArdle, library trustee chairwoman Virginia Snopek, state Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham, who presented a proclamation, and state Reps. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, and John Scibak, D-South Hadley.<br/><br/>ETTA WALSH

    Celebrating the start of the construction of Granby's new library, from left, are Granby librarian Janice McArdle, library trustee chairwoman Virginia Snopek, state Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham, who presented a proclamation, and state Reps. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, and John Scibak, D-South Hadley.

    ETTA WALSH Purchase photo reprints »

  • Alice Stewart, who donated the four-acre parcel for the new library with husband, Fred, attended the ground breaking with her son, John.<br/><br/>ETTA WALSH
  • Celebrating the start of the construction of Granby's new library, from left, are Granby librarian Janice McArdle, library trustee chairwoman Virginia Snopek, state Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham, who presented a proclamation, and state Reps. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, and John Scibak, D-South Hadley.<br/><br/>ETTA WALSH

The town reached a milestone last Wednesday when ground was officially broken for the new $5.1 million town library.

A group of about 50 people gathered at the new library site, off Route 202 opposite Taylor Street, on a sunny, “gorgeous day,” according to Virginia Snopek, chairwoman of the Granby library trustees.

The new 12,000-square-foot library, which will be constructed by contractor Western Builders Inc. of Pleasant Street, is expected to open next October, Snopek said. It will replace the 2,500-square-foot Carnegie library built in 1917 at 1 Library Lane.

The cramped quarters, which currently house 38,000 books in a space designed to hold 5,000 volumes, was built to serve Granby when its population totaled about 1,000, Snopek has said. Current population is about 6,200.

Granby received a $2.7 million state grant for the library project last year, contingent on the town’s ability to raise the remaining funds for construction.

“These projects don’t happen without that,” said Celeste Bruno, communications specialist for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).

Town voters have approved spending $1.1 million on the project and donations are contributing the rest. Fundraising by Friends of the Granby Public Library is continuing and the library recently received a $15,000 grant to provide furnishings for the new building, according to the library’s director, Jennifer Grant.

Bruno said new library projects funded by the MBLC provide not only printed and electronic materials for borrowers, but also “flexible space” in the buildings, where community events can be held. Those spaces are particularly valuable in smaller communities such as Granby, where local groups often have difficulty finding adequate space to hold meetings, she said.

“I love the old library,” said state Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, who attended the groundbreaking. “But the new library will be better, so much better.”

“Libraries are the launching pad to knowledge and technology,” said state Rep. John W. Scibak, D-South Hadley. “This is a landmark day and time for this community.” A major gift to the new library was the donation of a 4-acre parcel for the new building by Fred and Alice Stewart. Another was a $50,000 grant from the Dr. Thomas Bombardier and John Fowler Charitable Family Trust, which was accompanied by a “challenge grant” promising matching funds if the new-library backers raised an additional $150,000 by the end of 2011. The challenge was met through donations from local residents and area banks.

Thomas Bombardier, a Granby native and medical doctor who now lives in California, “is a special kind of person,” said Maureen Bail, who taught Bombardier in first grade.

The following fundraisers are being held to benefit the library building fund: A “Hats Off for Our Library” knit-a-thon is being held at the library through Dec. 1, asking knitters to make simple hats of any style or pattern. The hats will be sold at the library’s annual Knitting Fashion Show and Luncheon on Dec. 8. Prizes will be awarded for most hats knitted and most money raised for the library. The event is sponsored by WEBS Yarn Store of Northampton.

Mo’s Fudge Factor Fudge Sale will be held Tuesday through Nov. 23, selling gourmet, made-to-order fresh fudge and chocolates. Order now to receive by Dec. 18, in time for holiday gift-giving.

Ongoing programs at the library include Snuggle Time Lap-sit, designed to encourage early literacy for children ages 4 through 18 months. The 20-minute segments include songs, finger play and stories where parents of babies interact with their children and each other.

The next three-week session will be held Nov. 7, 21 and 28 at 10:30 a.m. and registration is required.

Pre-school story times are held Fridays at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 9 and 16. Children ages 3 to 5 have playtime, story time and craft time.

Library events are free and open to the public. For information, call the library at 467-3320 or visit www.granbylibrary.com.

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