PITTSFIELD, Maine - The tally of grants for the expansion project of the Pittsfield Public Library is impressive - very impressive, when the list of private donations is revealed.
The library project — a $1.5 million expansion that will enhance the building’ s important historical significance while meeting the needs of today’ s users — has received 40 grants. The most recent was announced last week, a $45,000 Maine State Library New Century Grant that Rosalie Williams and Librarian Lyn Smith hand-delivered to Augusta an hour before the deadline.
That good news came on top of even more: The bid for a renovation of the existing library’ s basement came in at half the projected price.
Grants, foundations and trusts accounted for almost $500,000 in gifts.
But stack those 40 gifts up with what area readers have provided: more than 500 individuals, 36 businesses, 11 organizations and three towns have boosted the fundraising, which has been ongoing for the past five years.
“We’ ve also recently confirmed a $5,000 donation from Merrill Bank and a $10,000 in-kind donation from Webber Energy,” project chairman Anne McGowan said. “In just the last 10 days, we have received a dozen gifts.”
That brings the total raised to just over $1.4 million, McGowan said, with one-third coming from grants.
In addition, the community has supported 52 various fundraising events over the past several years.
“This is so impressive, for a small town the size of Pittsfield,” she said. “Everyone has been so generous.”
All the hard work by the Building and Fundraising Committees has paid off. Renovation of the downstairs area of the existing building will begin within weeks, McGowan said. The library is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and McGowan said it is the “treasure of the community.”
Town employees and library staff have been busy boxing up books, tearing down shelves and preparing the space for the work, which will solve foundation issues. Building Chairman Doug Frati has been working with Town Manager Kathryn Ruth, engineers from Kleinschmidt Associates and Cianbro Corp., and the project’ s architect, Dick Reed of Portland.
The renovation work will be conducted by Nickerson & O’ Day of Brewer.
“We have been clearing everything out of the lower level so the renovation work can begin,” Smith said. “We are operating out of only the main floor of the library,” the books being boxed up and moved represent about a third of the library’ s overall collection.
“Even though some desired materials are not here, we can obtain almost anything a patron wants through cooperative sharing with other libraries in the state,” Smith said.
McGowan said the downstairs books, which include reference and fiction, could be gone for as long as a year, waiting the new construction. The books and shelving are being stored at three locations, all donated. They include Manson Park School, R & R Storage on Route 100 and a private individual. CM Almy, a local church vestment manufacturer, donated all the boxes for the move.
“The last major work that was done on this library was in the 1960s,” McGowan said. The expansion will create a new circulation desk area, a major new children’ s section, meeting and conference space, expand the current computer area and provide additional sitting areas for patrons.
Meanwhile, the recently organized Friends of the Library will be holding a yard sale from Aug. 14 to 16 on Madawaska Avenue.
“It will be huge,” McGowan said.