Scarborough Public Library holding an Open House to show the community why an expansion is needed for the growing community. Alexis Wells photo

SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Public Library will be hosting an open house on Sunday, April 3, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. This event will kick off National Library week takes place April 3-9.

During the open house, visitors can learn about the improved services the much-needed library expansion will provide, see primarily sketches of the proposed library expansion and share feedback. Take a behind the scenes tour to learn about space constraints that affect their services. Residents can meet members of the Scarborough Public Library community, volunteers, patrons, and staff as well as enjoy some refreshments and see the architectural plans and drawings for the long-awaited building expansion.

Plans to expand the library have been in the works for over 15 years. The library is looking to accommodate Scarborough’s growing community which means more space and new services. Design plans for the building began two years ago but the COVID pandemic caused a set back.

The proposed addition would provide an additional floor and 22,000 square feet to the building’s footprint. This new building would allow the library to have more reading nooks, meeting spaces, an upgraded computer lab, activity space for young and seniors, plus much more.

After school, the library is filled with children and young adults from the elementary school and the high school the library would like to offer more space for all ages to have their own sections of the library as well as offer more study rooms for tutoring or children trying to complete homework in a quiet space.

“A dynamic space for both children and young adults is important,” Library Director Nancy Crowell.

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“It is important to have a safe, welcome, and warm space for the children and young adults to come to. We want a dynamic space for both children and young adults that feels like there’s,” said Bill Donovan, president of the library’s Board of Trustees.

The library is thriving when you walk in through the double doors but what residents and town councilors do not understand that behind the scenes the library is at max capacity to keep up with the growing population, accommodate new and old books, storage, and many other issues, according to library personnel. Crowell and staff have been able to move around the library and accommodate the needs of the public. But there is a lack of office space for employees, lack of storage space for supplies including tables, technology, books, and more. The shelving units for the current library need some TLC, there is not enough space for books, and they are too tall for seniors or those in wheelchairs. Books and DVDs are at maximum capacity, the library must recycle through books every year. Each year the library recycles 3,500 to 5,000 books due to lack of room.

Over flowing shelves at the Scarborough Public Library/Alexis Wells photo

“The need for this expansion is necessary. The expansion will accommodate the community for 20 years from now and not just a band-aid for now,” said Crowell.

The library expansion will include a new IT space that will allow seniors to come in and get to know technology as well as receive help. The lab would include 20 to 30 computers to use free of charge.

“The need to socialize is important and the library would like to offer more senior services that are different than what is offered at the Community Center,” said Donovan.

Due to the pandemic, the target date for the referendum to support the expansion was moved back and the Town Council will vote on whether to approve it to appear on the November 2022 ballot.

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The library is the smallest library per capita in Maine, according to library staff. The current size is around 12,884 square feet, the largest library in Maine is in Portland and is 88,000 square feet.

The estimated cost for planning for the building expansion is estimated at $250,000; this would cover engineering and architectural designs for the projects as well as a project budget, in preparation for a bond referendum vote in November. The whole expansion is estimated to cost about $12 million with proposed construction beginning in September 2023 and a completion date in December 2024. Construction should last 12 to 14 months and the building should be ready for occupancy in January 2025. During the construction period, the library will find a different location to open so residents can still its resources.

The library continues to hold several new events and have brought back in-person events as well. Monday Matinee Movie Day is back. On Monday, April 11 at 1:30 p.m., the library will be showing the film “Belfast,” which is PG-13, 98 minutes long and free to the public. The library requires those who would like to participate to register due to reduced seating. Check out the library website for more details. The library is currently offering AARP Tax Help held in their meeting rooms on Friday mornings and will have 1040/1040-SR federal tax forms and instruction booklets available. Those looking for help can call the reference desk at 207-883-4723.

RSVP for the open house or ask questions via email at http://[email protected]

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