Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 31, 2014
Brooksville Library marks addition with open house
Two Brooksville youngsters, Jack Pascal, 4, (left) and Winter Blake-Chapman, check out a puzzle on the floor of the new children’s section at the Brooksville Free Library in Brooksville, Maine. The library held an open house on July 27, 2014 to celebrate its expansion.
by Rich Hewitt
Townspeople gathered at Brooksville’s largest living room Sunday, July 27, to celebrate the completion of the new addition to the library.
Folks filled the library and wandered through the addition which now houses the new children’s section. It also has opened up more space in the rest of the library which will be used for a variety of library programs and also serve as a gathering area where people can come and read and socialize.
“We want the library to be a place where people can come to the town’s living room,” said trustee JoAnn Haeberle.
With the addition, the library now has enough space to become that kind of community gathering place, added librarian Sylvia Tapley.
Space was the driving need behind the new addition. The library’s popular after-school reading program had so many volunteers and student readers that it overflowed into the rest of the community building.
“We had volunteers reading with kids in the kitchen, in the storage rooms, even in the town clerk’s office,” Tapley said. “Sometimes they’d be sitting on the floor in between the shelves. This [addition] will allow us to keep that program all within the library and it will give us more flexibility for all our programs.”
The library board had been discussing ways to find more space for programs when the town discovered that the library deck, which extended over the fire station was leaking and had caused damage below.
Harry Madson, who was president of the library board at the time, said that opened up the possibility of an expansion.
“The deck wasn’t used a lot,” Madson said. “Rather than spend money to fix the deck, we made the decision to put our efforts into the addition so we could fix the leak and expand the library.”
The project was fairly straight forward, according to Eric Chase, one of the two architects on the library board who helped to design the new area. Although they looked at different designs for the roof, and even toyed with the idea of adding solar power to the new roof, in the end they simply extended the existing roof. The result is a 16x16x60-foot addition. The addition allowed the library to move the children’s section into the new space, which opened up space in the main part of the library for an expanded public computer area. The library also has created a sitting area for the public which was not possible before the project.
“We really have created a community living room area where, hopefully, people can sit and read and linger and do other things that they just couldn’t do before,” said Bruce Stahnke, the current president of the library board. “The kids have more space and there’s more room for the library to use. It’s just a comfortable place to be.”
The new library space is a far cry from the original library, according to longtime library volunteer Katherine Clifford, who recalled that the original library had been housed in a small building with no facilities, located on what is now the town house parking lot.
“It was nothing like this,” she said. “It’s so nice to see so many people here. This is wonderful”
The library is used by a lot of people and has enjoyed a lot of support from townspeople. As evidence of that support, the library board was able to raise most of the money for the addition from local donors. Of the $200,000 needed for the project, the library raised about $180,000 from donations.
“It really is gratifying that so many people were willing to give,” Stahnke said. “A lot of people volunteer for the library in a lot of different ways. A lot of hands went into making this possible. It is a real community project.”
The town provided additional funding to increase the supports needed to hold the new addition and to address problems in the fire station itself. Some of that work is still ongoing, according to Selectman John Gray.
Enough work was done below to allow the addition to be completed. There are still some final touches to be added and the library has a wish list of things they would like to add to the building, including a custom circulation desk, a projector and screen, carpeting for the conference room and shades. To help with that wish list, local artists partnered with the library and provided a variety of artwork that was up for bid as part of a silent auction during the open house.