Architect Scott Simons interacts with more than 60 community members at a planning meeting at the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor on Dec. 11. PHOTO BY EARL BRECHLIN

Jesup expansion discussed

BAR HARBOR — Plans for future expansion of the Jesup Memorial Library were presented to an eager audience of community members Dec. 11. Members of the team from Scott Simons Architects and Scattergood Designs presented some early conceptual layouts of the proposed new space and gathered feedback from residents.

The project includes plans for restoration and repair of the current library building, Scott Simons said Monday, but no major changes to the main structure are contemplated.

“There’ll be some restoration and repair, and some parts of the collection will move around, but the building will stay the same,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful building. It’s perfect.”

Library Director Ruth Eveland told the Islander that the library building needs some of the same masonry repair work that has been done at the municipal building and fire station.

“The building itself is in very good shape,” she said. “It has good, thick granite walls. But after 100 years, there are things that need tending to,” including electricity and plumbing upgrades and other minor changes to improve “library functionality.”

“We were very happy that so many people attended this first meeting with the architect,” said Melinda Rice, the Jesup’s development director. “It really shows the interest and commitment of the community to the Jesup and all that we do.”

More than 60 people attended the meeting, Rice said.

The library has expanded programs and other offerings significantly in recent years, Eveland said, but that has required some creativity and a lot of furniture moving. “For all that is fixed in the current building, we have managed to make an extraordinary amount of stuff happen there, but it takes a lot of work.”

In creating the “statement of need,” describing what goals the expansion project might meet, Simons said, the architects interviewed staff and looked at other comparable libraries. They consulted American Library Association recommendations for space needed “based on size of your collection and types of programs that are accommodated.”

The addition would add about 10,000 square feet to the library, Simons said. The building next door, currently the “Secondhand Prose” used bookstore and two residential rentals, would be razed to make room for the expansion.

The new space may include an expanded children’s library space, a large community room to accommodate 150 people for meetings and events, a young adult area and other flexible meeting and teaching spaces.

“A number of organizations in town have expressed a great interest” in the new, larger meeting space, Eveland said. “Particularly, to have something like that right in the downtown seems really, really useful.”

Another key goal is a better space for events geared toward collaborative, intergenerational learning, she said. “A space where people can come together and learn to use various kinds of new technologies” is part of the Jesup’s vision.

The design process is still in very early stages, Simons noted. “What we presented Friday were early models, what we call ‘bubble diagrams,’” he said. “They show roughly how big [the new space] is, roughly how it aligns with the existing floors of the building. We had shown three different sketch plans first to the [Jesup’s] committee then to the group that came Friday night.”

Several public comments at the meeting dealt with parking issues. Resident Lauren Donnelly urged a smaller addition and more parking spaces. Resident Stewart Brecher commented that with a downtown location, there will be as much parking as could be included in a more suburban location. It should not be given priority over the function of the building, he said.

The design team will continue to meet with the committee and will hold a follow-up community meeting in the new year as the design takes shape, he said.

The Jesup plans to launch a capital campaign for the project once a final design is in hand.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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