MOUNT DESERT — The Northeast Harbor Library apparently will not be housing a collection of 5,000 to 6,000 books on sailing that a Mount Desert resident who wished to remain anonymous offered last year to donate to the library on the condition that the books could be kept in a separate, secure, climate-controlled space.
In an email response to an inquiry from the Islander last week, the library’s executive director, Elly Andrews, said she thinks it is a “dead issue.” She declined to elaborate.
The Islander reported in July that the prospective donor had asked the library to propose two options for housing the collection, “one high range, one low range” in cost, Andrews said at the time.
She said that if the library and the donor agreed on an option, the donor would pay for whatever construction or renovation would be needed.
The lower-cost option that the library identified was the conversion of part of what is now storage space in the basement of the building into a room for the sailing books. The books would not be allowed outside the room, and anyone wishing to see them would be escorted to the room.
The much more expensive option for the book collection was to build a room above the Mellon Room, which is used for meetings, lectures, musical performances and art exhibits. The Mellon Room is the only part of the old library that was incorporated into the larger, modern building that opened in 2007.
Any substantial alteration or expansion of the library building would require the approval of the town’s planning board. Board members discussed the two options the library was considering at their June 26 meeting but took no action. However, there was consensus that the basement option would be far preferable.
“It seems like the basement is the no-brainer,” board chairman Bill Hanley said.
Andrews said at the time that the library was “just exploring” the possibility of housing the collection of sailing books and that “it might not happen.”
Now, it appears that it won’t.