Supporters tour $10M Abbot Library renovations

About a dozen Abbot Public Library volunteers and supporters donned hardhats recently for a tour of the Pleasant Street building’s $10 million renovation project.

Abbot Public Library Executive Director Kimberly Grad talks with a supporter during a tour for members of the Friends of Abbot Public Library on May 19. CURRENT PHOTOS / NICOLE GOODHUE BOYD

“We’re just so excited,” said Kathleen Waslov, president of the nonprofit Friends of Abbot Public Library. “We’re delighted to see how well it’s going — and that it’s on budget.”

Town Meeting approved $8.5 million for the renovation in 2021 and supporters have raised another $1.5 million. The construction, which began in January 2023, is about 20% complete and is on schedule to be completed by spring of 2024. In the meantime, the library has moved to a temporary location at the old Eveleth School, 3 Brook Rd.

Kimberly Grad, the library’s director, led the tour, along with Board Chair Gary Amberik. They often had to shout over the sounds of drilling and sawing. The library, originally built in 1954 and expanded in 1990 to 33,000 square feet, appeared much brighter and larger without stacks of books and furniture. Sunlight poured through the windows and filled the space.

“We’ll be putting in lower stacks in the front area to let the sunshine in,” Grad said.

The tour started on the lower level, where the Teen Center is being updated to include a Project Studio that will feature a sound booth (for recording music and podcasts), computers, sewing machines and more. There will be two glass-door entrances to the Teen Center, so it will be more easily accessed.

The Children’s Room, which was updated in 2016, is getting new ceilings and lighting.  

“We’ll touch up the carpet and the furniture will stay the same. It will get a good clean-up,” Amberik said.

The large meeting room is getting new lighting, an HVAC system and a catering kitchen. It will be more of an “event center” now, Grad said.

The library’s garden, which is getting new pavers and landscaping, will have three entry points including a new gated entrance in addition to the staircase off Maverick Street and the original entrance from the meeting room.

Abbot Public Library Dir. Kimberly Grad and Board Chair Gary Amberik led a tour of renovations at the Pleasant Street building. CURRENT PHOTOS / NICOLE GOODHUE BOYD

Climbing upstairs to the main level (while dodging work crews and wiring), Grad showed the group where the new circulation desk will be, along with a self-checkout area.  

“There’s a new color scheme with a neutral palette in charcoal blue and white oak,” she said. There will be new meeting rooms on the first floor and a computer area.

“We’re blending technology with tradition,” said Katherine Barker with the Friends.

In the sitting area with the fireplace, there will be new vaulted ceilings and a counter for refreshments.

“The construction is going very well,” Amberik said. He explained that the building will now have an electric heat pump system, with back-up, gas-fired radiators.

Another improvement? Crews will repave the parking lot.

For updates on the library’s renovation project, go to

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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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