Library space assessed

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Community organizations here are looking at their space needs and talking with each other about the possibilities for making better use of the meeting and activity spaces that currently exist in town.

The Southwest Harbor Public Library initiated the conversation by inviting representatives of a number of groups to a workshop last Saturday, Jan. 31. Despite the snow storm, about 20 people attended, including officials of the Chamber of Commerce, Harbor House and American Legion Post 69.

The workshop grew out of the library’s internal consideration of its own space needs and options, including the possibility of expanding their building. One issue is the inadequacy of the workroom space, which is behind the circulation desk.

“We have five people trying to have offices back there,” library Director Candy Emlen said. “It’s also the space that volunteers use.”

She said the workroom area will need some major work in the next few years, including a new roof and probably better insulation.

“We asked ourselves, ‘Do we really want to put money into that and keep it the way it is, or do we want to think about alternatives,’” Emlen said.

One option might be to replace what is now the workroom area with a two-story addition. Emlen said that when the library was expanded in 2000, the workroom area was built with that possibility in mind.

In thinking about the library’s space needs, Emlen said a broader consideration is accommodating the changing role of libraries, including holding more programs and events.

“We’re looking at how to prepare for that and how the community can work together if we all have issues and needs in common,” she said.

Rather than the library “plowing ahead blindly” on its own, Emlen said it seemed like a good idea to involve other organizations and the community at large in the conversation.

As for the next step, she said, “We’re going to see a small group put together to inventory what spaces are available in the town and what their uses are.”

She noted that some sharing of meeting and event space already occurs. Both the library and Harbor House have meeting rooms that are available to other groups. The library uses the American Legion Hall for its annual book sale. And the sanctuary of St. Andrew and St. John Episcopal Church has been used for library-sponsored concerts.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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