Press Release -February 13, 2013

Easton Library Wins a Massachusetts Community Innovation Challenge Grant

The Ames Free Library in Easton is among 27 recipients of Massachusetts Community Innovation Challenge (CIC) grants for programs designed to support regionalization and cost saving initiatives.  The Library won a $40,000 award for its innovative plan to expand traditional library services by creating a multiple-use learning hub at Queset House, a 19th century mansion owned by the library and adjacent to its main building. 

With its classic exterior and savvy interior, Queset House offers the opportunity to integrate technology, information, and collaborative expertise to support lifelong learning, intellectual, and creative pursuits.  Its rooms are ideally suited to a scalable environment and will be used as meeting and study spaces, a digital media lab, film presentation and multimedia conference rooms.  Guided by the spirit of a 'creative commons,'  the CIC grant will help equip these spaces so that several community agencies can collaborate for the benefit of their mutual constituencies.  Organizations that helped develop the plans for the grant are: Town of Easton, Oliver Ames High School, Easton's Council on Aging, Easton Community Access Cable Television, and Stonehill College.

Colleen Corona, Chair, Easton's Board of Selectmen, enthusiastically endorsed the plan to create this new environment for the benefit of Easton residents: "Queset House is a town treasure and we are extremely grateful to the library for opening it to the public.  The plan to outfit its gracious rooms with the technology tools needed to further digital education and collaboration is truly innovative.  Those of us who work in town government are always looking for practical ways to apply Easton's rich heritage -- with includes five H. H. Richardson buildings and hundreds of acres of conservation land -- to the needs of our citizens."

The Ames Free Library, true to its motto, Where the Community Connects, was awarded the Library Journal and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant as a Best Small Library in America in 2011.  Recognized for innovative programs and community service, the library now is planning to follow the lead of such libraries as Darien and Westport CT, and Skokie, IL, among others, which have pioneered digital media laboratories for their users.  These labs incorporate the philosophy of the ‘makerspace’ or ‘hackerspace’ movement, providing a venue for people with common interests to meet, socialize, and create. Queset House will incorporate these activities along with offering space for a wide variety of other programs.

The Library’s Board of Directors purchased Queset House several years ago to provide expansion space for its main library, a national historic landmark building designed by H.H. Richardson.   The house is part of the campus that includes Queset Garden.  The romantic history of Queset House, an English Gothic style cottage, centers around the years Winthrop Ames, notable Broadway producer, lived there from 1899 to 1937 and hosted his New York theater friends. Visitors included such luminaries as Katherine Cornell, George Arliss, and Leslie Howard, the latter who is most remembered as Ashley Wilkes in the movie Gone with the Wind.

For further information, contact Uma Hiremath, Executive Director, Ames Free Library, 53 Main Street, North Easton 02356; 508-238-2000, opt. 7; uhiremath@easton.ma.us.

*Read more about the grant