Bangor library leads ‘last copy center’ plan

Posted Aug. 25, 2010, at 11:16 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine – Almost a year after buying the Moulton Library building, located on the former Bangor Theological Seminary campus, Bangor Public Library is working with its counterparts around Maine to establish the state’s first “last copy center.”

The Bangor Public Library officially acquired the building for $250,000 on Halloween of last year, thanks to a grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, library Director Barbara McDade said Wednesday.

The plan was to use the building as a repository for books and periodicals that rarely are taken out but that libraries are reluctant to discard.

On Wednesday, McDade said that Bangor Public Library now is in the process of determining if there is statewide interest in such a center and, if so, how it would be operated, funded and governed.

Participating libraries would share in the Moulton building’s operating and upkeep costs.

In a post Wednesday on an e-mail list for the state’s librarians, McDade described the center as a “shared offsite facility designed to free valuable space in libraries across the state so libraries can have newer or more frequently accessed material on their shelves.

“The idea would be that instead of every public library in the state having a copy of all of Agatha Christie’s novels, let’s say, or John MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels, or even the early work of Danielle Steel, works that seem to have gone out of favor, but that some people still may want to read, there would be one copy (the LAST COPY) available at the center for anyone in the state to borrow,” she wrote.

“Libraries across the state could then weed these titles from their collections,” she noted.

Besides some of Bangor Public Library’s books and periodicals, the Moulton Library building also is providing storage space for volumes from Colby College and the Fogler Library at the University of Maine, she said. She estimated the building’s storage capacity at about 60,000 books.

On Wednesday, McDade said the center, a five-minute drive from Bangor Public Library, likely wouldn’t need regular staff because existing employees could retrieve books and periodicals when the need arises.

“So we’ve put it out there, and I’ve already started getting some responses,” she said. “So I think it’s doable.”

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