The additional funding will allow the Pittsfield library to expand its collection and weekend hours.
The Pittsfield Public Library pictured Monday. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Pittsfield Public Library will see more books, newspapers and other materials for the first time in two decades.

The PIttsfield Town Council plans to boost the library’s budget by nearly $7,600.

The decision marks a big moment for a small-town library in Maine. Rural libraries offer essential services beyond books, including access to computers and printing services, after-school programs and aid while applying for unemployment benefits and jobs. The additional money also will boost the library’s Saturday hours, meaning more patrons can take advantage of its services.

“I actually cried when I got to my car,” Library Director Holly Williams said Tuesday. “It was a really emotional couple of weeks. The community just really came out, and I was so happy that the council listened.”

The council’s move comes after an Oct. 18 discussion about cutting costs, including reduced hours at the library, and a Nov. 1 meeting where residents turned out in force to support the longtime facility and Williams, who had put together growth options in hopes to stave off the suggested cuts.

Councilors voted 4-2 to boost the library’s budget tentatively by nearly $7,600 and expand Saturday hours, which many residents wanted, Williams said. Next they’ll consider other municipal department budgets — meaning the library’s budget is not yet set in stone.

The library director was glad that councilors heard from townspeople about what role the library plays in their lives and made a thoughtful decision. People often complain about not being heard by those elected to represent them, especially on a larger scale, but this was not one of those times, Williams said.

The library is primarily funded through property taxes, and serves Pittsfield, Burnham, Detroit and Palmyra.

Williams brought three proposals to councilors — gold, silver and bronze options, she called them Tuesday — and they chose the best one, which supports both the library and its patrons.  

The budget for books, magazines, newspapers, movies and other items will increase by 11 percent, totaling $16,650, Williams said.

In 2002, the budget for the collection was $16,500, and it’s now $15,000 after $1,500 was allocated for events, she said last month.

Councilors also agreed to allocate about $6,000 toward increasing the library’s hours and those of part-time staff. The library’s two part-time employees will each work three extra hours, which will keep the building staffed when Saturday hours change, Williams said.

The library is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, and it’s closed on Saturdays during July and August. Saturday hours will likely change 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., though no final decisions have been made, Williams said.

A final town budget vote is scheduled for Dec. 6.