BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Public Library officials are planning to close the city’s 101-year-old library for six weeks as renovations and upgrades to the historic structure continue.
Director Barbara McDade said the library will close Nov. 16 and will not re-open until Jan. 4, predicting the shutdown would leave the library’s average daily patronage of more than 800 people “very upset.”
“We just found out that this was what we’re going to have to do,” she told City Council this week.
The closure will allow construction crews to install a three-story staircase in what is known as the octagon room. The staircase will connect new and old portions of the library, according to McDade.
The shutdown also will allow library staff to install radio frequency identification tags on each of the library’s more than 500,000 books.
McDade said the tags will allow for self checkout at the library, as well as enable library staff to locate misshelved books and identify missing books using an electronic wand scanner.
Before the temporary shutdown, library staff will begin relocating the children’s section from the first floor to the newly renovated third floor. That will close the children’s section from Sept. 8 until Sept. 14.
In preparation for the shutdown, Bangor library staff have worked out agreements with libraries in neighboring communities for Bangor patrons to go there, though the stop-gap measure will not cover the full shutdown period.
The Edythe Dyer Community Library in Hampden, the Old Town Public Library in Old Town and the Orono Public Library in Orono will accept Bangor library cards during the shutdown.
Meanwhile, the Fogler Library at the University of Maine, the Maine State Library in Augusta and the Nottage Library at the University of Maine at Augusta in Bangor will continue accepting Bangor library cards, as they normally do, according to McDade.
Additionally, from Oct. 16 to Nov. 14, the Bangor library will allow cardholders to checkout as many books as the need for the six-week shutdown. Those books will not be due back to the library until after the Jan. 4 re-opening.
The library also has electronic books, magazines and research resources available on its website.
While local patrons can go to neighboring libraries, the shutdown could impact people who use the library’s Internet and computer resources.
Asked by Councilor Gibran Graham whether she had any recommendations for library Internet users, McDade said they will leave the libraries free public Wi-Fi on during the shutdown so users can log on from outside the building.
Other than that and the UMaine library, she said she was not sure where patrons could go to use computers.
The planned shutdown comes amid a large-scale renovation at the library. Those renovations, slated for completion in March of 2016, include a two-story atrium, work on the third floor to create a children’s room, an expanded young adult section and an art gallery that will feature work by local artists.
The library’s lecture hall also is being updated, and a $3 million repair of the library roof, including the replacement of the copper dome, already has been completed.
The updates and repairs come after a $9 million fundraising campaign, with $3 million donated by the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, $3 million coming from city bonds and the rest coming from private donations throughout the community.
McDade estimated about $1 million of that would go toward the library’s endowment fund, which pays for library operations. Approximately 40 percent of the library’s annual budget comes from the endowment with the rest coming from the city.
Follow Evan Belanger on Twitter at @evanbelanger.