PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Five months ago, the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library successfully completed the first phase of a $1.5 million renovation project that added more space for books and computers, and made the facility more accessible for people with disabilities.
With that behind them, city and library officials, trustees, city councilors and others gathered at the Second Street building with golden shovels in hand on Monday to kick off the second phase of the renovation.
“We are so happy to usher in the second phase of the project,” Sonja Plummer-Morgan, the building’s librarian, said Tuesday. “The first phase has just brought a major change to the facility, and we are so happy to begin the next chapter.”
In June 2010, a California woman with ties to the city gave the facility $1 million to fund the expansion project. The woman, Mary Barton Akeley Smith, visited Presque Isle in the past year and came into the library to use a computer. While she was doing so, she overheard another patron who was using the phone. He was calling employers to whom he had sent resumes to ensure they had received them. She then realized how important the library is to the community, especially to those who do not have a computer or telephone of their own. In June 2012, she donated another $25,000 to help fund interior design planning.
During that time period, the library’s board of trustees also voted to allocate $250,000 for the project and city officials added approximately $350,000 more. Public and private donations also came pouring in.
The library first opened in 1908. The community uses it not only for its books, computers and the Internet, but also to obtain notary public and passport services.
Phase one of the expansion was completed in May 2011. It added more space for books, computers and other materials and made the facility more compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
On Tuesday, Plummer-Morgan said that phase two will consist of creating renovations such as fashioning a functioning conference room on the ground floor that will enable users to have catering services if they wish, creating a larger teen section under the mezzanine on the ground floor, fashioning a larger reference section and creating a new section for local history on the top floor.
“What we have found is that our patrons have a growing interest in genealogy,” she said Tuesday. “This change will help cater to that need.”
Construction will be ongoing for six or seven months, according to Plummer-Morgan.
“This whole process has been a real team effort,” she said Tuesday. “We have a very dedicated staff here at the library and from the whole construction and architect and project team that is making this happen.”