One Grafton library

It was a  surprise to me, when we first started researching Grafton, to discover the town had not one, not two, but three public libraries. The town really didn’t seem big enough to justify three separate buildings, but I figured that maybe Grafton was just a highly literate town, dedicated to the printed word.

Growing up, I practically lived at the Bellingham Library, a tiny brick building that was haunted by a ghost with a sense of humor — you could always find a cold spot lingering around the research room at the books marked with the Dewey Decimal signifier of 130. Norma, one of the librarians, introduced me to books and authors that remain my favorites to this day. Bellingham eventually outgrew its little brick building and built a lovely new library near the high school; it doesn’t have a helpful ghost, but my daughter now loves to visit there with her grandmother to read in the bright children’s room.

We happily explored the three libraries in Grafton after moving here but were still puzzled as to why there were three of them. The children’s room in the main library, near the Common, seemed cramped, especially after our years with the Northborough Library. Nelson was a newer facility, but its hours never quite seemed to jibe with ours. South Grafton, in size, reminded me of my childhood library, but both times we dropped by, we ended up stopping back at the main library for a better selection.

Anyway, this is all roundabout, it came as no surprise to hear that the Library Trustees have decided to close both Nelson and South Grafton as of Jan. 1, 2009. The town’s going to be hard-pressed to level-fund its budget and three buildings, with the cost of heating, lighting, staffing and stocking them, seem to be a luxury.

Of course, the problem is, none of the buildings are the perfect stand-alone library. The main branch isn’t handicapped accessible and the parking lot is tiny; I don’t see much room for expansion there. There’s also a letter in this week’s Grafton News that notes that Nelson is completely funded, save for its librarians, by a trust fund — so what ends up happening to the trust fund?


8 thoughts on “One Grafton library

  1. I think Nelson would be a sweet little spot for the Grafton Pre-School (way better than the annex).

    By the way, if you ever peruse that locale, there is a cool little hiding spot/area that all the kids know about. Its in an area totally encricled by overhanging tree branches by the back of the library (opposite of the fields). Very trippy.

  2. When I first moved to Grafton, I lived on Nelson street and the Nelson library was my kids’ favorite place to go. And, Michael, that tree with the overhanging branches was awsome. The kids loved it.

    I’d hate to see that library get shut down. We had our cub scout meetings there. And, what about the trust fund?

  3. I’m really curious about that trust fund too. I assume that the money aint comin to the town…given its the town breaking off this relationship. But if they need someone to administer the funds, I would be glad to step up to the plate (XMAS gifts are killing me)!

  4. I’d love to know what happened to the trust-fund, too. I took my daughter to the Nelson just this week for the first time and we loved it, only to see the closing notice as we were checking out. So sad. It’s also a shame — no, an embarrassment — that the main library is not handicap accessible. I can’t believe the library had recent renovations and a ramp/ramps were not included.

  5. Just an FYI… there will be a meeting at the Nelson Library this upcoming Monday, beginning at 7pm. It is a regular meeting of the Nelson Library Trustees and there will be a discussion regarding the closing and other possible options.

    Despite the dismal fiscal outlook, I am disappointed at the prospect of the closing of this site. This library and the 18 acreas surrounding it are a wonderful assest to our town.

    If interested in hearing more, consider attending the meeting on Monday. Plus, I think the topic of libraries is on the agenda for the Selectman’s Meeting on Tuesday the 9th as well.

  6. Will we lose any funding because we now have a library system that is NOT accessible to those officially handicapped citizens never mind those that have trouble negotiating stairs? How can we have a government building that is not ADA compliant? I ask sincerely, how can this be?

  7. Want to clear up the questions about the Nelson Library Trust – in 1898 Mr. Nelson gave the Town $20,000.00 to build a new library on the Nelson Property – he also gave the Town his home which was used as a Library until the fire. The Trust monies and the Insurance money was used to build the present Library – what was left of the Trust money has been invested with the Town of Grafton money and the Town gives the Nelson Library a small budget to maintain the building and the park grounds.
    The will states that the Nelson property must ALWAYS be a park or the property (all the property) reverts back to the Heirs. It also states that he was donating the money and his home to be used as a library in Memory of his Father Jasper Nelson – so how can the Library be closed. I don’t think he wanted the building used only for one hundred + years then we can do what we want with it. Legal opinions all depends on who reads them and how they interpret it.
    So sorry we don’t have much money to manage it is managed by the Town/invested by the Town
    Being one of the Nelson Library Trustees, we have tried to make our Park a great place for all to enjoy keeping it an old fashion park – no lights at night – just enjoyment for all during the day.
    Nelson has 18 acres that the Town ownes, there are parcels of land across Route 140 – the Pines that is currently being used for parking during the spring & summer – we also have another area behind the library which could be made into a parking area. We are the only Library that is handicapped accessable – and because of an expection by the Building Inspector spent quite a bit of budget money to become more compliant. This inspection was requested by the Center Library – but am not sure if they also requested an inspection of the Center Library which we all know will cost many $$$$$ to make accessable. So we will wait and see what ADA comes up with.
    Not a smart move on the Center Library Trustees part.

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