The recent vote of the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce to support the library expansion project is no surprise to those in the know. Perhaps more than any of the towns around greater Portland, Scarborough has generated multiple organizations and business ideas that are improving society every day. And the Scarborough library has been — and is still — supportive of local businesses and instrumental in that kind of innovation.

Some of that business support comes in simple and very tangible ways. Last winter, local businesswoman Annalee Rosenblatt shared a story about how the library served as a temporary office when a power outage put her organization out of commission for several days.

“Back when we had the Halloween storm, our office had no power for three days,” Rosenblatt said. “I found that I could go to the library and do my work because it had internet service and power. We were able to not miss a beat during the business day.

“That’s one of the benefits of seeing the library as an expanded space,” she said. “It was surprising how efficient it was with its big bandwidth. Others found out about it as a place where they could go to do business during the storm. It could be loud. We had to clear out after school. Sharing space was difficult for groups because there weren’t enough rooms along with the after-school programs.”

“There is a certain symmetry to the fact that my first — and probably last — businesses were based in Scarborough,” said longtime local businessman, Jim Kupel. “My businesses have ranged from the simple sole proprietorship Commercial Research and Writing to the more sophisticated Behavioral Health Acuity Index System, a behavioral health tool that measures data-based outcomes in real time from a cloud-based application. Both businesses were made possible, in part, by the assistance I received from the staff and tools of the Scarborough Public Library.”

“I was able to learn much of what I needed for business formation at the library,” Kupel said. “I still remember struggling to understand double entry business accounting and the financial education resources at the library helped. Today, if I need access to technical articles on behavioral health from scientific journals, they can be found through the Scarborough library resources.”


Free library cards are available not only to residents and property owners, but also to employees of Scarborough businesses. A Scarborough Public Library card provides access to digital resources at no cost to cardholders. Of particular use to business owners and their employees are Udemy, an online learning platform that includes 14,000 online video courses, many that build business and technology skills and Kanopy, a video streaming service that contains instructional videos including The Great Courses.

Bendable, a collaboration between the Maine State Library, the Drucker Institute, local libraries, and other agencies, is a new community-centered lifelong learning system that links users to in-person and online training opportunities, many free or low-cost, for both personal and occupational enrichment. Included in Bendable are Career Collections, sets of learning resources curated by local employers to help people prepare for in-demand jobs in Maine.

Library staff will tell you that on any given day you might find a homeowners’ association (with its own EIN) or another nonprofit group having a meeting at the library. In the lone small conference room, you might find a tutor helping a student or a private business conversation. A national social media expert might be using one of the library’s few quiet rooms as a satellite office just to get out of her home office for a while.

The plans for the new library expansion are flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the area. The library of the future will be able to provide these kinds of small workspaces along with other supports we can hardly imagine now. In the new world of remote work there is a greater and greater need for this kind of business support.

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