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. The proposed addition would supply an added floor and 22,000 square feet to the building’s footprint. Courtesy Photo/Scarborough Public Library

SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Town Council met with the Scarborough Public Library library director and board of trustees on July 20 to discuss plans for a library expansion. The council will meet again Aug. 17 to discuss whether to put a $13 million bond referendum on the November ballot to help pay for the expansion.

The council asked questions regarding operating expenses as well as building planning updates, building design costs, private funding updates, community involvement and more. 

During the workshop with the library trustees some council members indicated their support. But they also expressed concerns about timing due to other projects on the horizon in the town, which include the potential town center at The Downs and a new school building. 

“That’s not in the distant future,” said Councilor April Sither, adding that details such as costs for design and construction are not yet known for those two projects. “That’s something we’re going to have to deal with really soon.”

Other councilors stated that plans for the library expansion are ready and the town should let the voters decide.

“The Council asked thoughtful questions,” said Library Director Nancy Crowell. “We appreciated the opportunity to provide updated estimates on construction and operational costs.”


According to the library website, the cost of the expansion would be $13.9 million.

Plans to expand the library have been in the works for over 15 years, Crowell said. The library is looking to accommodate Scarborough’s growing community which means more space and new services. The expansion would allow the library to have more reading nooks, meeting rooms, an upgraded computer lab, activity space for young people and seniors, plus much more.   

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

The Scarborough 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 library expansion will also 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 time is right for us to right size Scarborough’s Public library, and to bring our program offerings in line with other communities,” said Town Council Chair John Cloutier. “We’ve delayed this work long enough.  The Community is rallying in support of this effort and initial fundraising pledges have  been very encouraging.  I look forward to seeking voter approval for this critical project.”

If the bond referendum passes in November 2022, the library would move into a temporary space during construction, and construction would begin in fall 2023. The Town Council will decide next month whether to send a bond of up to $13 million for the project to the voters in the fall. Voters will be asked to approve a bond not to exceed $13 million; the remaining money for the project would be raised through private funding. 

“Last week’s library update of the Town Council was very positive,” Donovan said. “The Council has been a strong supporter of the library’s efforts to develop a responsible expansion plan.  That support has helped tremendously in promoting our fundraising campaign which is now projected to raise upwards of three million dollars, reducing bond costs to $13 million. No Scarborough public initiative has even approached this level of private support.”


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