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A Tale of Two Libraries

By Keith Spencer

It’s a throwback to the idea of how most adults envision a library: dimly lit aisles of books from the floor to well above your head, the antique leather smell, and a true sense of quiet solitude. It’s a library from the movies, where all you hear are the creaks of old wooden chairs and the occasional rustling of newspapers.

Thirty years ago, this was perfect. Today, it is certainly quaint, but not a reflection of everything a modern library should be. What’s promising is that the Shute Library, Everett’s longstanding additional branch to its centrally located Parlin Memorial Library, will soon receive the major overhaul necessary to bring the building into the 21st century.

While some initial design and engineering work has already been completed, the next step is to raise the necessary capital in order to bring the project to life.

The Friends of Everett Libraries and Library Trustees are on a rapid march to raise nearly $1 million in order to match a $2 million grant awarded by the Commonwealth.

Kicking off a fundraising campaign last month, the Library has already accepted a $25,000 donation from Everett Co-Operative Bank, a great start to what will be a monumental collaborative effort to renovate the Shute.

The major renovation project will include the addition of a new wing to the building that will allow for an expansion of the children’s room as well as the creation of a homework center, teen area, and a small study room for group projects and tutoring.

There will also be updates to all major electrical, sprinkler and HVAC systems. The library will also make use of a self-checkout system as well as state of the art technology.

The work is certainly warranted with flocks of Everett High School students using the Shute on a daily basis since the new Everett High School was erected just blocks away. Unfortunately the library does not meet the technology needs of modern teens or the average visitor to the library.

While the library staff makes due with what they have, an upgrade is really what they need. In an era where access to information through the Internet is dominating all of our lives, libraries still play a vital role.

For Everett to have two state of the art libraries is a testament to the city’s vibrant growth.  It’s also a testament to the library staff and their ability to mix traditional with modern technology. Hopefully, the good people of Everett and the business community can come together to save one of the city’s few remaining architectural gems.

Upon his death in 1891, William Shute of Lynn left $10,000 to the City of Everett for a public library in the Glendale neighborhood. Shute was born in his family home on Ferry Street in South Malden, known today as Everett. The Shute Library opened its doors in 1899, providing special programs and emphasizing the importance of reading to the children of Everett for more than a hundred years.

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