Tag Archives: Bailey Library

We’ve Reached a Million!

IMG_9350Yesterday was an exciting day for the Bailey Library Expanding Our Boundaries Campaign Team. We have reached the million-dollar goal of our campaign, and we were able to add two books indicating this on our sign outside the library. Oh, happy day!

What an achievement for a town of 6,000 with only a handful of businesses. The road has been long and, at times, very bumpy, but we did it thanks to awesome fund raising by the entire team and awesome grant writing by Liz Sienko, Mary Jane Auns, and George Ames. (Because of changes in work orders, we still have about $60,000 more to go, but the team feels confident that it can raise this additional money.)

Richard Fortin, the library director, places the last book
Richard Fortin, the library director, places the last book


Roger Lajeunesse peels the sticker
Roger Lajeunesse, a campaign member, peels the sticker

After adding the last two books to the sign, we had a pizza party for the campaign team.  Before, whenever we had a campaign-team gathering, it was in the original library’s fireplace room, which was crammed with bookshelves and tables. Now, we have an honest-to-God meeting room with two long beautiful oak tables that can comfortably seat twenty people. We have a big table in the adjoining events room where food can be served buffet style. How roomy and comfortable it all is and how much these rooms add to the library.

Much-deserved pizza for the team
Much-deserved pizza for the team

Sometimes, I still can’t believe we have this lovely expanded library for our town. As Shane-Malcolm Billings, the adult services librarian, likes to point out, with an average of 3,000 books being borrowed each month, books are still very much the center of Bailey Library. This is as it should be, and it warms my heart to think about how much Winthrop reads.

However, what the expanded library allows is plenty of room to hold events, and this summer is chock-full of activities for children and adults. Between books (and DVDs) being borrowed and the expanded space for events, it is my guess that Bailey Library will soon become the cultural center for the town.

When I think about this, all the hard work seems so worthwhile.  (I must also admit that I am completely exhausted by all the library brouhaha and the wrangling with the town council about money for operating the library. )

But, there. Now that the grand opening is behind us and the budget is set for another year, I should be able to settle into summer and rest a bit.

Onward and upward.


Charles M. Bailey Public Library is Officially Open

IMG_9108There! After a week of folderol and brouhaha, the new and improved Bailey Library is officially open. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony, with Sarah Fuller, the chair of the Winthrop Town Council, doing the honors. Before cutting the ribbon she quoted from Cicero: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

IMG_9123Hear, hear!

Edie Smith, from Senator Angus King’s office, told a charming story of coming to Bailey Library as a young girl. She would find a book and read perched on the window sill in the reading room until Mrs. Dow, the head librarian, would say, “Edith Ann, it’s time to go home.”

After the ribbon cutting, people stayed  to chat, admire the library, and check out books and DVDs. Clif commented on the happy vibes that filled the library.

The happy crowd at the library
The happy crowd at the library

We were indeed all happy: the trustees and campaign volunteers who have worked so hard to raise the million dollars for the project; the library staff who have  also worked hard to move the library from its temporary location and to make everything presentable for the opening; the patrons who now have an expanded library filled with light and oak shelves and plenty of room to sit and read.

We were all smiling, smiling, smiling.

My friend Margy Knight said, “We’re so in love with libraries that people might think we’re loony for libraries.”

Loony for libraries. Margy certainly got that right.

Later in the day…happy teens in the new teen section.


A Library Budget Cut?

Bailey Library, before the addition
Bailey Library, before the addition

Last night  in Winthrop, there was a town council meeting where our library’s budget was discussed. (Full disclosure: I am a trustee.) With the new addition, the library has nearly tripled in size, and we were asking for a $25,000 increase over last year’s library budget. This is right on par with what the architect suggested would be needed for the library after the addition was built, and the councilors knew this before they approved the project. (The library requested a total of two hundred eighty-three thousand dollars out of a seventeen million dollar town budget.)

First the bad news: The town council recommended a $10,000 increase rather than a $25,000 increase, which will make what is a tight library budget even tighter.  The trustees were taken to task for not wanting to use money from their endowment fund—there is about $100,000 in the account—to pad the budget. We were also chided for not doing enough to raise money for the library.

As I listened to various councilors scold us, I thought of the $900, 000 the trustees and the campaign team have raised for the addition and of the years of hard work that have gone into getting to this amount.  Like most projects, the expansion fund raising started with a bang, but it is inching ever so slowly to the end, and there is a lot more fund raising to go. I would encourage all those who think raising money is a snap to join the campaign team and help us reach our goal of a little over a million dollars.

Now the good news: Despite the tongue lashings, there was also a recommendation to forgive $100,000 of the $300,000 bond taken out by the town for the library expansion. The trustees are responsible for paying this bond, which is why we are so reluctant to dip into the endowment fund to operate the library. We are concerned, quite rightly, about paying this debt. If  $100, 000 of the bond were forgiven, then that would be a big help in our fund-raising efforts.

But best of all, the meeting room was packed with people who love the library. Around eighty people came to this meeting, and many of them spoke in defence of the library and the requested budget. It was heartening to see how many people in town love and use the library and how many think that it is important for the town to support the library. Unfortunately, despite the number of people, despite their eloquence, the councilors were not swayed to give the library the full $25,000 budget increase.

None of these decisions are final until the June meeting, where the budget is presented to the town, but it is my guess that the councilors will stick to the $15,000 cut and the $100,000 forgiveness of the loan.

One thing has become very clear to me. In times of budget shortfalls—brought in part by our governor’s decisions—the library is going to be a tempting target.

And we must never, never forget this.



Our Library’s Beautiful New Addition

The new adult section with its beautiful shelves and lights
The new adult section with its lovely shelves and lights

As long-time readers of this blog know, for the past few years, I have been part of a campaign team that has been working oh so diligently to raise money for a new addition for the Charles M. Bailey Public Library, our town’s library.  (Full disclosure: I am also a library trustee.) The budget is one million dollars, which sounds modest enough, but in fact it has been quite a challenge for a town with a population of 6,000.

Late last summer construction began, and all through the winter workers have been busy pounding, hammering, and sawing.  (Or sawring, as we Mainers would say.) Now the workers are coming down the homestretch. The new addition is nearly complete, and good progress is being made getting the original library spiffed up so that it won’t be totally overshadowed by its new sibling.

Yesterday, after doing our civic duty and paying our property taxes, Clif and I went over to Bailey Library to check on the progress. Oh, how beautiful Bailey is, even partially finished, and how wonderful it will be for the town to have this expanded library. The original library, built when the town was half the size it is now, was bursting at the seams, and there was no room for new books, not enough space for events, and hardly any place for the staff to work.

Now, we have a spacious new events room that will hold 130 people, greatly expanded children and adult sections, a meeting room, and an honest-to-God little staff room. The expanded library, in the center of town, will truly become even more central than it is now.

I want readers to know that while Bailey Library hosts events, has computers, and offers a wide range of DVDs, real books, made of paper, are still the thing, with thousands being checked out each month. And I’m happy to report that this book trend doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

Right now, volunteers are busy shelving books that had to be stored during construction. (The library is in temporary quarters in the Commerce Building in town.) In late spring or early summer, Bailey Library will reopen, and there will be a grand celebration.

I’ve written this before, and I’ll write it again. It’s not every day that ordinary people get to work on a project that will be around long after they are gone. One hundred years from now, Bailey Library will be there for the people of Winthrop. It’s been a true pleasure to be a part of this project.

The beautiful lobby, with original stone work
The beautiful lobby, with original stone work
The view from the lobby of the adult section
The view from the lobby of the new adult section
Wainscotting from the Masonic Building that had to be torn down to make way for the new addition.
Wainscotting from the Masonic Building, which had to be torn down to make way for the new addition
A view of "old" Bailey, still under renovation
A view of “old” Bailey, still under renovation
The spacious new events room
The spacious new events room