The Final Chapter for Worcester Public Libraries: 193-year-old institution being razed

Wondering what the future could hold for city libraries and the books that line their walls? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, July 19, 2052 — Scores of people gathered on the Worcester Common throughout the day Friday to witness the demolition of the Worcester Public Library Main Branch. Aside from the college campus depositories, the building, built in 1964, was the last standing public library in the city and the largest library in Central Massachusetts. The teardown is part of Beacon Hill’s cost-cutting plan to close and consolidate libraries across the Commonwealth.

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Begun in 2040, the “10-year plan” aggregates local libraries’ physical materials into four regional centers: Whately, Worcester, Waltham and Wellfleet. Samples of books, including works of local history and genealogy, have been reviewed, categorized and transferred to the Region C Information Distribution Center, formerly the Greendale Mall. Relocation and storage fees are being paid for by Amazon.com, which, in 2041, initiated its ambitious plan to purchase every copy of every known paper-based volume in existence.

Of the old C/W MARS regional consortium, which at one time included more than 149 libraries in Central and Western Mass., only eight buildings remain open to the public: Pittsfield, Leominster, Leicester, West Brookfield, Shrewsbury, Wales, Williamstown and Lenox. All eight are set to close within the next 12 months.

“I understand that it’s sad to see the old libraries go, but we need to start thinking about space in Worcester,” said state Sen. Edward Rodrigues, who voted for the plan. “This move eliminates on building upkeep costs, saves on librarian salaries and benefits, and all but cuts out book purchases. We’ve outsourced all of that — almost for free — and now we can put that prime CitySquare land back on the tax rolls for a new tenant.

In fact, proponents say CitySquare, the sprawling downtown development project, will finally be completed in the next few years.

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State Rep. Kate Campanale talks Trump, Dixon, guns and making things happen

Republican state Rep. Kate D. Campanale, who represents Worcester’s 17th District (encompassing all of Leicester and “all the way to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Main South”), met for an extended interview with Sun correspondent BJ Hill recently at the Leicester Senior Center. This is their third sit-down since her election in 2014.

Find out how she really feels about Moses Dixon, which of her colleagues she’d like to have a beer with, her thoughts on transgender rights, sanctuary cities, Rep. Brian Dempsey’s sudden House departure, and what it’s like being a Republican in Massachusetts in the era of Trump.

[Editor’s note: Lightly edited for clarity and brevity.]

BJH: In November 2016 you won your first re-election campaign. What was that like, going back into the community and again trying to win support after your first election in 2014?

KC: It was a different campaign since you’re running as an incumbent and you have a record to run on. You’re a little more known. Going door-knocking, people remembered me from the previous two years. And you’re able to talk a little bit more about things that you’ve accomplished versus things you want to do. I’d say it’s a little more comfortable campaigning.

What are three differences campaigning in Leicester versus campaigning in your area in Worcester?

Honestly, BJ, I wouldn’t say there are many differences. It’s still the same strategy as far as you’re going to someone’s door, you’re meeting them, you’re introducing yourself for the first or second time, and you’re talking about pretty much the same issues. And you know, every person has [unique] priorities, but in general, I would say that the campaigning part is the same. Maybe one difference would be I’m a little more known [in Leicester] because I grew up here. Other than that, the campaign strategy really is the same, you know, meeting people is the same, whether it’s an event here at the [Leicester] Senior Center or one at University Park. I kind of handle them the same way.

You mentioned priorities. What did you notice were different priorities between folks in Worcester and folks here in Leicester?

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