648 Main Street
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
Phone: 508-845-6226
Fax: 508-842-0061
Bonnie O'Brien

Bonnie L. O'Brien

Tuesday, June 30th, 1942 - Friday, March 13th, 2020
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Bonnie L. O’Brien, 77, longtime Shrewsbury resident, passed away unexpectedly on Friday March 13, 2020.

Bonnie was born on June 30, 1942, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to the late William T. and Louise (Tobey) O’Brien. Her life-long love affair with libraries began when she was a young girl. Bonnie was an avid reader. In high school, she started as a volunteer and then was hired to work at the Portsmouth Public Library.

Upon graduation from high school, she attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated in 1965. She went on to attend Drexel University and earned her Masters degree in Library Science. Upon graduation in 1967, with 10 – 12 job offers, she said yes to a position at the Worcester Public Library, allowing her a chance to begin her career and be near her family. In less than a year, she was the head of Children’s Services and the Bookmobile.

In 1978 Bonnie was appointed the Director of the Shrewsbury Public Library. She was immediately involved with the building project that remodeled the Artemas Ward Annex and the original 1903 building and created an addition. Bonnie was one of the twenty-eight librarians who joined together to organize and develop C/W MARS, a library consortium in central and western Massachusetts dedicated to efficient resource sharing and rapid access to information. She was a member of the American Library Association and the Massachusetts Library Association. During her tenure as president of the MLA, Bonnie saw the need for and established a section for paraprofessionals. She was elected to the MLA Hall of Fame in 2010.

Upon her retirement in 2004, then assistant director George C. Brown noted, “Bonnie brought a lot of experience, and she’s seen this library through many years of fantastic growth.”

Bonnie was an active member of her community. She served as a member of town meeting, Tower Hill Botanical Garden, the Shrewsbury Garden Club, the Shrewsbury Historical Society, and a supporter of many local causes. Bonnie was a woman of faith and active in her church community.

Bonnie is survived by her sister Bette Kirby and husband Rick of Oconomowoc, WI, and her sister Bev O’Brien of Northborough, MA. In addition to her siblings, she is survived by her niece Lisa Kirby-Mangas and husband Bob of Middleton, WI; nephew Brent Kirby and wife Jenna of Cleveland, OH; grandnieces Maggie, Jenny, Abby, Mira, and grandnephew Ever.

Funeral Mass will be said for Bonnie L. O’Brien on Tuesday, July 14th. This mass is for family and invited attendees only. A Celebration of Life for Bonnie is tentatively planned for the spring/summer of 2021.
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Service Details

Funeral Mass will be said for Bonnie L. O’Brien on Tuesday, July 14th. This mass is for family and invited attendees only. A Celebration of Life for Bonnie is tentatively planned for the spring/summer of 2021.


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Private Condolence

J. H. Mitchell

Posted at 02:07pm
Bonnie O'Brien was my first boss, a friend and mentor. Her guidance led me to grow personally and professionally and was instrumental in helping me become the person I am today. She truly believed that anything was possible if you put your heart and soul in it. Bonnie was a gift to the Shrewsbury community and to all whose lives she touched. I will cherish her in my memory always. Thanks Bonnie, you were the best.

Nancy Gilbert

Posted at 02:35pm
I have Bonnie to thank for my becoming a library trustee. Shortly before her retirement, she encouraged me to run for the board. I have been a trustee for 3 terms now and have enjoyed every moment. I would never have considered serving without Bonnie's faith in me. Thanks for your unwavering dedication to SPL, Bonnie. You will be missed.

Nancy Gilbert
Shrewsbury Public Library Trustee

Elizabeth Greene

Posted at 08:13am
Bonnie was a very sweet person and I was glad to have the chance to see her again at the lunches at The Dinnerhorn the past few years. Rest in peace, my dear

Nancy Hughes

Posted at 10:06am
Bonnie was such a supporter of all social justice issues in our area. She donated her time, talents, and treasures to so many of us. We will miss her dearly. Rest in Peace

Harry Roger Williams III

Posted at 09:15pm
Look at that smile! I met Bonnie in 1972 and that's exactly how I remember her. She was among the first to welcome me when I moved from NYC to begin my career at Worcester Public Library. She was a hard and dedicated worker, but a friend to all and a credit to our profession. Condolences to Bonnie's sisters and family. My life is richer for having known her.

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