With white hard hats and gold shovels, Edgartown officials on Monday celebrated the beginning of construction on a new library.

The space formerly occupied by the old Edgartown School is now dirt surrounded by a chain link fence, with construction equipment signalling the beginning of the building process.

There will be a community groundbreaking in May.

On Monday, members of the library building committee, library trustees, town selectmen, the Edgartown school principal, the building architect and project manager were on hand to commemorate the initial groundbreaking.

“This is special because you guys are our real boots on the ground,” library director Jill Dugas Hughes told the group of volunteers. “We can finally say this is really, really truly going to happen.”

The library project has been a long time in the making as the town grappled with replacing or expanding the circa-1904 Carnegie library on North Water street. Early plans to expand or rebuild the library at the existing location fell through, and plans turned to the site of the old Edgartown School, which is located next to the existing school. Edgartown received a state grant for about half the $11 million cost.

The old Edgartown School was demolished over the summer, and the library is expected to be substantially completed by June 2015.

“Today is symbolic of all the efforts that so many people have put forth over the last decade to build a really outstanding library for current and future generations,” Ms. Hughes said.

After applause, the gold shovels went in the dirt.