The newly renovated Falmouth Memorial Library. Courtesy / Jenna Mayotte.

FALMOUTH – Staff members and patrons alike say they are thrilled that Falmouth Memorial Library has reopened its doors to the public after nearly 18 months of extensive renovations.

Curbside services, or “library take-out” as Director Jenna Mayotte calls it, began Sept. 21. Two weeks ago, the library started allowing members of the community to browse for 30 minutes to enjoy the new space and select books from the shelves. Due to the pandemic, the temporary location at Mason-Motz Activity Center closed March 10. 

Following guidelines Maine State Library has drafted, the building’s maximum occupancy is 15 people to maintain adequate distances for staff and patrons. Visitors are also asked to wear masks and use hand sanitizer on the way in if they plan to handle books. There are no programs being run, but the staff continue to offer what they can virtually. The new building includes a self-check system, which allows people to have a low-contact experience. 

The good side of the (re-opening) delay for us is that by now, people are used to following these kinds of practices. We’re going to keep these protocols in place until it’s safe to gather again,” Mayotte said. 

Extra staffing is required to run both the service desk and curbside pickup. Out of the 11 staff members, at least two are typically working together per shift. 

A lot of the same staff has remained through the whole renovation, which is really exciting because they get to go back into this nice, new space and really see the fruits of all of their labor. They worked so hard through all of this,” Mayotte said.  

The project began in early May 2019 and ended in August 2020. The $6.6 million budget went to good use, expanding the building from 10,750 square feet to 18,750 square feet. The new library has has a separate youth services wing, a separate teen room, an adult services wing and a quiet reading room, along with a community gathering space. There are significant technology upgrades as well. The last addition, built in 1965 was removed along with the 111-year-old Iverson House due to structural problems.

Three donors contributed to the library’s new look. Longtime educator and community leader Ann Waldron donated a painting by Maine native Bernand Langlais. “Fiesta” can be found in the quiet reading room.

A sculpture by Jac Ouellete has been installed on the lawn of the Falmouth Memorial Library. Courtesy / Jenna Mayotte.

A large metal sculpture of three dancers made its way to the library’s lawn, thanks to an anonymous donor. 

A sculpture by Jac Ouellete has been installed on the lawn of the Falmouth Memorial Library. The librarians have named the piece “Celebrate” in celebration of the library re-opening.  

Another anonymous donor had a solar energy system installed on the roof of the building.

Maryann Sedlack, a frequent patron at the library, said she’s amazed by the new building.

Just walking into the space is so remarkable. The light in there is extraordinary and the way the chairs are arranged draws your eyes to the trees outside,” Sedlack said. “The world looks so crazy right now and to see something happy maybe has more meaning than it would in another time.”

Through the lens of a world consumed by a pandemic, among other things, this reopening has provided much-needed positivity.

“A library is meant to be shared. It’s not the same for us to be just working in there ourselves, so letting people back in has been a great way to gain back that sense of community,” Mayotte said.

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