Art Paine, a member of the Bass Harbor Memorial Library board of trustees, painted this depiction of what the library would look like with a proposed addition designed by architect Jeri Spurling. IMAGE COURTESY OF BASS HARBOR MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Bass Harbor library seeks addition



TREMONT — For the past few months, trustees of the Bass Harbor Memorial Library quietly have been raising funds for their planned addition. On Saturday, Sept. 9, they kick off the public phase of their campaign with a free community barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the library grounds.

“It’s time to celebrate and make the community aware of what we’re doing,” said campaign chairman Susan Edson.

Michael Hays, Carey Donovan and Susan Edson hold a banner with the Bass Harbor Memorial Library’s slogan for its campaign to build an addition and make upgrades. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Plans call for a 770-square-foot addition for use as a children’s area and the remodeling of an earlier addition to make it more user-friendly for both patrons and staff. The total cost of the project is estimated at $350,000.

Meeting that financial goal just got a boost from an anonymous donor who matched a $100,000 challenge grant. Added to the $30,000 in contributions for named gift opportunities, the library is just $120,000 shy of its goal. And according to Edson, they expect to hear this fall about grant money for the project.

The need for more space became apparent in responses to a survey and in comments made at a series of “community conversations” conducted in 2014. While an addition may not have been specifically mentioned, the library recognized that meeting the needs of the community would require more space.

“There are institutions that make a community a community,” said Mike Hays, a trustee and member of the campaign committee. In Tremont, the library, along with the school, is one of those institutions, he said. “The more we can do for the community, the more people will use it.”

There were practical matters as well. With a collection of more than 7,300 materials, the tiny library was bursting at the seams.

“We’re running out of space for things like books,” Hays said.

Access to books is only part of what the library offers.

“One of the reasons people come to the library is to use the computers,” said Trustee Carey Donovan.

People of all ages also take advantage of the library’s many programs, which include art exhibits, lectures, children’s story hours and summer art camp. Oftentimes these programs interfere with other uses of the small library.

Once trustees established the need for more space, they approached Tremont selectmen about adding on to the town-owned library. The goal was to raise the money without using town funds. Selectmen gave their approval, and work began to hire an architect.

Requests for proposals were sent out, and five architects were interviewed.

“The one that made sense was Jeri Spurling,” Edson said.

Spurling worked with the library to design an addition and remodel part of the existing building “to make it a more flexible space so we can have programs that are important to the community,” Hays said.

Bookshelves will have casters, making it easy to move them around to accommodate various activities. Noise from the children’s area can be kept at a minimum by using a sliding glass partition between the remodeled area and the children’s area. The glass will allow a librarian to keep an eye on what’s going on.

The main entry will change. It is now directly into the reading room. Spurling designed a new entrance through the addition.

Donations to the campaign can be sent to the Bass Harbor Memorial Library, 89 Bernard Road, Bernard, ME 04612.

The Bass Harbor library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed in the Colonial Revival style by Charles Lawson, the original brick structure, now used as a reading room, was built in 1922.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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