The Scarborough Library staff and trustees are working on an expansion plan for voters to consider in November. The project would add more community and meeting space. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

SCARBOROUGH —  More than a dozen years after voters rejected an expansion and renovation project, Scarborough Public Library officials are preparing to bring a new plan before voters this November.

The Scarborough Public Library was built in 1989. A plan is in the works now to add more than 10,000 square-feet to help the library and community meet its current and future needs. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

“We are definitely targeting November 2020,” said Peter Hatem, president of the library’s board of trustees. “We are confident we’ll make that (deadline) and have been working towards that for awhile.”

Library Director Nancy Crowell said although the designs are still being refined, the expectation is that the library would be expanded by approximately 10,000 square feet by constructing additions on either side of the existing 12,000-square-foot building. The cost, she said, could be between $12 million and $14 million.

A community forum on the expansion plan was held this week. Additional workshops and presentations to the council are planned for later this winter and spring as plans firm up.

Hatem said library consultant Anders Dahlgren, who was hired to conduct a space needs assessment, found based on its population, Scarborough should have a library that is around 30,000 square feet. If expanded, it would be roughly the size of the library in Auburn, which has a comparable population, and Wells, which has a similar seasonal population.

The extra space would provide additional gathering and meeting space, more quiet spaces for tutoring or one-on-one meetings, a computer lab for technology training and more seating, as well as space for art displays or small musical performances. The expansion project would also mean more working space for staff, a drive-thru window for book returns and additional space earmarked for teens and children. For more information visit expansion.scarboroughlibrary.org.

Planning for the library expansion project began in 2016, shortly after the town released a draft of its long-term facilities plan that listed an expanded library as a high priority need after the construction of the new public safety building, which is expected to open this spring.

“We have been waiting for the public safety project to be completed because we knew that was the next big need in the community. There was no question about that. Once that was real and that process started, we felt our time had come to put more energy to what we already started,” Crowell said.

To help guide the process, the library conducted community surveys and focus groups to garner feedback and brought on Dahlgren and Portland-based Scott Simons Architects to help design an expansion project that would meet current and future needs.

Although the project could also include revamping how the adult and children’s collections are laid out, Crowell said: “The need for more people space rather than collection space is the focus for us.”

Jim Kupel, vice president of the Board of Trustees, said he has been “pleasantly surprised by the number of people in the community who have already envisioned alternative needs that could be fulfilled by additional space.”

Crowell said the expansion project will create space that is flexible and able to adapt to the changing needs of the library, much like the existing building has. The building was opened in 1990 – years before the advent of E-books – when patrons were still using card catalogs and librarians were checking books out by hand.

“The Scarborough Public Library has really been a leader not just in the region, but the state on the use of technology,” Kupel said. “We are continuing to envision that as an important part of this project.”

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