On April 7, 2011 the Branch will be celebrating its 31st birthday. In 1977 city government officials began to look for another use for the West Fire Station which was closing. In June of 1978 a committee formed to study the feasibility of turning this building into a “Community Center” with a Senior Center and a Branch Library to serve the west side. The process took over two years to come to fruition.
Today the Branch is no longer housed only in the basement due to the building of a brand new Senior Center next door in 2005. With funds from the City and the Library Foundation the West Branch expanded to all three floors of the old West Fire station. These renovations were completed in 2006. The Branch now has a dedicated children’s area as well as the Allen Gene Cote Reading room on its main floor. The Cote Reading room was dedicated in 2007 in honor of the significant bequest received by the Library Trustees from Mr. Cote’s estate. Members of his family still live on the west side and he remained a Branch library supporter from his new home in Virginia. The lower level (or the basement!) continues to house all our fiction and non-fiction books, our busy public Internet computers and a Teen area.
The Branch recently had the public Internet computer equipment updated with a grant from the Gates Foundation and matching funds from our Library Foundation. The Branch had a very successful 2010 with 56,604 visitors and our west side patrons borrowed 68,060 volumes of library materials. Internet computers at the Branch were used 16,000 times in the 2,218 hours the building was open in 2010.
The Branch has always offered programs to the west side community especially for children. There is a weekly story time, crafts and special programs are often held. During school vacation weeks our neighbors at the Senior Center graciously allow us the use of their larger meeting room to host a family program which usually involves live animals! The Branch also hosts “Movies at West” every Friday with current releases playing on the big screen in our upstairs meeting room.
We are also very thankful to our Friends Group at the West Library. Over the years they have helped to sponsor our discounted museum passes to the Museum of Fine Arts, New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science in Boston. They also host the annual Bingo night! Their next big event is their book and bake sale on April 16th. Please join us in supporting their efforts as part of our National Library Week activities!