Library transformation gets underway 

A bundled-up crowd gathered in the Abbot Public Library courtyard the morning of March 8 to celebrate the start of a $10 million renovation to the library’s Pleasant Street building.

The event brought together elected officials, contractors, employees and residents weeks after the project kicked off in late January.

“Our motto throughout this campaign has been ‘Our 17th-century town deserves a 21st-century library,’ and we are truly thankful for everyone who has supported us in that vision,” Gary Amberik, chairman of the Abbot Public Library Board of Trustees told the small crowd fanned out before him. “Today, we celebrate the start of the transformation of the Abbot Public Library.”

More than 30 years have passed since the library’s building underwent significant upgrades. Once the renovation concludes, Amberik pointed out the following upgrades to the public space:

  • New energy-efficient heating and cooling systems
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting system
  • Improved, high-speed WiFi
  • Upgraded and expanded fire alarm and sprinkler systems
  • A new elevator
  • New landscaping and new finishes throughout the space
Kimberly Grad, library director, tries on a hard hat during the Abbot Public Library construction launch party on March 8 at the Maverick Street entrance. PHOTOS BY NICOLE GOODHUE BOYD

“The renovated library will also include small meeting rooms, a maker space, an expanded teen room and an upgraded fireplace room with lots of comfortable chairs and tables for gathering,” Amberik, who also chairs the renovation’s oversight committee, said. “Our team has accomplished a lot since the early planning of the renovation project began over five years ago.”

Since October, the Eveleth Elementary School, 3 Brook Rd., has served as the library’s temporary home. Moving in was not only a five-week, Herculean effort but also took several months of planning.

Abbot Public Library Executive Director Kim Grad said the renovation will help staff better serve Marblehead residents and North of Boston Library Exchange patrons.

“Abbot Public Library takes on a vital role in our town in the promotion of literacy and lifelong learning, the freedom to read what we choose, the pursuit of knowledge and trusted information resources, providing free, inclusive and adaptive spaces for gathering and supporting civic engagement through collaboration and connection with our community,” she said. “We look forward to the moment when we can continue our work in the updated space.”

Amberik said the small gathering allowed all involved in the renovation to “get together and take a moment to appreciate all that we have accomplished.” People caught up on the project’s progress, peering over a slide show and chatting with each other. Donuts and coffee were served.

 Elected officials, town employees and residents celebrated the Abbot Public Library’s renovation on March 8. 

Nancy Perkins Arata, who serves on the renovation oversight committee, has been with the project since day one.
“The town’s citizens are truly getting a bargain for $10 million,” she said. “They are going to be so pleased when the library opens.”

She added, “I’ve gone through a demo, and it looks amazing.”

In June 2021, the request for an $8.5 million override to renovate and replace the failing infrastructure of the building at 235 Pleasant St. was overwhelmingly approved by the town of Marblehead. Furthermore, the Abbot Public Library Foundation has raised an additional $1 million through private donations, which will be made available to the town for the renovation.

“The project is currently on budget, although it has certainly been challenging due to the record inflation and market escalation that we have all been experiencing,” said Amberik.

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