The Wheeler Memorial Library Renovation Project

Wheeler Momorial Renovation

You have questions about our library renovation project, we have (some) answers!

Q: This looks long, and I don't want to read it; how else can I learn about the renovation project?

A: The Building Committee meets twice per month in a hybrid live/Zoom meeting. You can see our meeting schedule here. Please note the mytowngov says we meet every fourth Thursday; that's been the case for a while, but as we get closer to our deadline we're finding we need to meet a bit more often!

Q: This is such bad timing! Why not wait?

A: The money from the state might not be there if we wait! When we were first approved for this grant back in 2003, the state was prepared to reimburse us for 80% of the project costs. For the 2016 grant round, we've been waitlisted for just a little over 50% of the project cost, and the work has only gotten more expensive over the last 13 years, The longer we wait, the more it will cost the town. Moving the project forward now is our best shot at giving Orange an up-to-date, up-to-code library while minimizing the cost to the town.

Q: Up-to-code? What's wrong with the library the way it is now?

A: The library isn't handicapped accessible, and there's no effective way to make it accessible. We have one small bathroom for staff and public, we have very limited programming space and quiet study space, our children's room and reading rooms are subject to leaks and mildew issues, our children's programming room is also our storage/public meeting/staff room space, our teen space is just a corner with a few tables, (and it shares a room with our public internet computers!), repeated serious leaks from the roof have been damaging the building for many years, there is no part of the library available to the town or public without a staff member present, and no part of the library is ADA-compliant.

Q: Those are pretty good reasons, but what about the armory? What about relocating town hall? Those buildings are also in rough shape, shouldn't they take priority?

A: Those are definitely important projects! However, the library needs to be addressed at some point, and this is our best shot at getting a grant to help mitigate the costs to the town. The library has not been renovated in over 100 years, and the longer we put off renovations, the more expensive they will be. It's also important to note that the trustees have already set aside $300,000 of the library's trusts to help cover the costs to the town, and both the trustees and the building committee have plans in the works for further fundraisers.

Q: Why do we need a fancy, renovated library in Orange when there are brand-new libraries in Athol and Erving?

A: It's fantastic that Athol and Erving have new libraries, and Orange deserves one too! One of the great things about the Wheeler Memorial Library is that it's right downtown, within easy walking and driving distance for a lot of residents. Also, remember that investing in our community sends a signal to developers and home buyers that we care about our town and its future. (It is not a coincidence that) when Athol citizens voted "yes" to renovate their library and school, there was a dramatic upturn in new business and increased confidence from existing businesses! Also, should physical neglect or lack of town financial support cause Wheeler Library to close, other libraries will not continue to allow Orange residents to use their services! We share materials with each other, and with every other library in the consortium. If Orange fails to take care of its library to the point where it no longer has resources to share, then other libraries, (and their taxpayers!), have no good reason to continue to share with Orange.

Q: What did the votes on back in 2016 and 2017 accomplish? What is Orange now committed to? Why hasn't the project moved forward since then?

A: The vote on December 10th 2016 gave us your support to file an application with the MBLC to try to get a grant. The vote on April 1st 2017 gave the MBLC the official go-ahead to process our application and add us to the wait list for a grant. When the grant round ended, we were 17th in the waitlist, now, in 2022, we're finally at the top of the list and ready to move forward!

Q: What if the town doesn't vote to accept the grant when it's offered?

A: Then the building project will have to wait for the next grant round, whenever the state chooses to have another grant round. The trustees of the library and the building committee all live in Orange. They know the town can't support the full cost of the renovation without help from the state. A lot of the money that we had set aside for a renovation will have to be put into projects like fixing the roof and reading room walls, and the building still won't be acessible or ADA compliant.

Q: This Q&A didn't answer my question, who should I contact?

A: E-mail Jessica at, or come to a Building Committee meeting! We love seeing new faces at our meetings. And we want to hear from everyone, even if you're not sure yet whether you support the project or not!