Growing up in Medford, Michael Bloomberg recalls how important the public library was to his family and the city. Now he has found a way to help keep it vital for future generations.
The former New York City mayor has made a $3 million gift to support the ongoing construction of a new library building in Medford, according to an announcement by Bloomberg Philanthropies — his charitable organization ― and the Medford Public Library Foundation.
Under the agreement the future library, set to open in fall 2021, will be named the Charlotte and William Bloomberg Medford Public Library in honor of Bloomberg and his sister Marjorie Bloomberg Tiven’s parents. Charlotte Bloomberg died in 2011 after residing in Medford for 65 years. William Bloomberg died in 1963.
The gift covers more than half the private funds the Medford Public Library Foundation is raising for the $27.5 million project; other costs are being covered through city borrowing and a $12.2 million state grant, according to Barry Sloane, chairman and CEO of Century Bank, and president of the library foundation.
“The Medford Public Library played such a big role in our community, and in my family, when my sister and I were growing up,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Our father was passionate about books and our mother joined one of the library’s first reading groups — and she continued returning to the library for clubs and programs throughout her life.”
“It means a lot to Marjorie and me to have our parents’ names attached to an institution that was such an important part of our childhood, and that provides such important resources to people of all ages in our hometown,” added Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P. and a Democratic presidential contender this year.
The 44,000-square-foot library is being built on the High Street site of the former 60-year-old library, which was demolished when the project began last fall, according to Holly Sargent, the library foundation’s executive director. The library is currently operating in a temporary Boston Avenue location.
The project was delayed about a month due to the pandemic, but is back in full construction, with the steel framing in place and floors and exterior walls being added.
The new building will nearly double the library’s usable space and address problems with handicap access, noise, design, and technology, according to library director Barbara Kerr. Among other features, it will have multiple meeting rooms, private study spaces, a large performance room, a makerspace and tech lab, a local history room, a café, and a gallery.
Sargent said the donation is critical to the foundation’s efforts to raise $5 million, leaving the group now just $500,000 short of that goal.
“We are honored and grateful to Mr. Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies for their support of this important project, which will provide incredible new opportunities and resources for the Medford community,” Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn said in a statement.
Sargent said that Charlotte Bloomberg — who was 102 when she died — was a regular visitor to the library. In recognition, the Bloomberg family at the time of her death listed the library as one of the institutions to which gifts were invited in her memory.
“This is a great day for Medford,” Ellen Tonello, chair of the city’slibrary trustees, said in an e-mail about Michael Bloomberg’s gift. “All of us look forward to opening our beautiful new library in the fall of 2021.”
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.