For the past several months things have been “looking up” at the Bangor Public Library as a contractor started replacing the facility’s original copper roof, which was installed more than 100 years.
The staging surrounding the venerable library attracted the attention of passersby beginning in June, when workers from Bangor-based Roof Systems of Maine started work on the $3 million project approved by Bangor voters that same month.
The original roof had leaked for some years, according to Library Director Barbara McDade. Leaks caused some interior problems, but the current roofing project (slated to finish in early 2014) dealt with such issues as sandblasting and repointing bricks.
The project also entailed installing copper box gutters along the edge of the 1997 library addition designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern. The gutters “carry the water away” from the building, , McDade said.
“We did have to replace one of the back roofs for an addition built in the 1950s,” she said.
The roof project should be finished in mid- to late January 2014, McDade said. The new copper dome will be unveiled before the project wraps up.
The roofing project represents 33 percent of the $9 million “Yes For The Library” fund-raising campaign launched to bring the BPL’s facilities into the 21st century. An additional $3 million will cover a major redesign and renovations of the library’s interior, $2 million will boost the endowment fund, and $1 million will cover construction contingencies, fund-raising costs, and three years of operating costs.
Stephen and Tabitha King have pledged a $3 million matching grant toward the campaign. According to Lisa Frazell, the BPL director of marketing and development, the library is “at $2.5 million and some change” for “our part of the fund raising.”
“During the private fund-raising phase, a huge amount was received from our patrons,” including “over 500 gifts that are under $500” apiece,” McDade said. “That has equated to $40,000.”
With less than $500,000 needed to complete the fund raising, Frazell foresees the renovation project “going out to bid in late winter, early springtime” 2014. “We hope to break ground in a May-June timeframe.”
The project’s longevity depends on whether or not the library will continue operating at its present location during construction. Moving the library’s 525,000 volumes “off campus” would allow contractors access to the entire building, Frazell said. “Tt would save time during construction.”
“If there is a large, empty building” in Bangor that offers some 60,000 square feet of available floor space, “if they (owners) would like to talk to us, we would be interested in hearing from them,” McDade said.
The proposed interior redesign as envisioned by Portland architect Scott Simons “pretty much changes everything” inside the library, she said.
Among the major changes that would be made to the library’s first floor:
• The Children’s Room will relocate from the first floor to the third floor of the 1997 addition. As part of the Children’s Room, an expanded Young Adults’ section will occupy space on the third floor of the main library.
• New stairs will extend from the entrance to the 1997 addition all the way to its third floor.
• Topped by a “green” roof, a two-floor glassed atrium will be constructed on the Stern addition. Inside the atrium, which will face Harlow Street, will be a cafe where library patrons can relax. Skylights placed atop the “green” roof will bring sunlight farther inside the addition.
• The main circulation desk will relocate to the first floor of the Stern addition and will face a new reading room. The computer room will relocate to space beside this reading room.
• Compact shelving will be installed “so we can store 2 and 1/2 times as many books in the same space we’re using for book storage right now,” McDade said.
On the library’s second floor:
• The existing computer room will become “a nice reading space with periodicals and places where you can sit,” McDade said. “It’s the room that gets the best sunlight even in winter; it will be a pleasant, sunny place to relax and read.”
• The Bangor Room will move from the third floor to the large room on the left of the library’s main entrance. The BPL’s extensive microfilm collection will be placed next to the Bangor Room.
• The reference desk will occupy the space vacated by the main circulation desk.
• A business center will open on the second floor of the 1997 addition and will feature “small rooms where people can meet for business,” McDade said. “This center would be a resource for small business owners.”
On the library’s third floor:
• A fine art gallery will replace the existing Bangor Room.
• Renovations will be made to the lecture hall.
For information about the “Yes For The Library” fund-raising campaign, go to yesforthelibrary.com. To donate, call 947-8336, ext. 130; email email@example.com; or go to yesforthelibrary.com.