Dorcas Library Director Faith Lane shows off the new space on the first floor of the new building. She plans to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2020 as a means of calling attention to the funding needs of the library. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JOHANNA S. BILLINGS

Dorcas Library expands to meet patrons’ changing needs

GOULDSBORO — The rules have changed. You no longer have to be quiet in the library, especially when you’re in Dorcas Library’s new building.

About a year ago, the library purchased the building across from its Main Street location, which used to house a pizza and sandwich shop, with plans to address the changing needs of patrons in 21st century.

“Libraries are no longer book repositories. They are information centers and the information comes in many forms,” said library Director Faith Lane.

You won’t find library books in the new building, however. It’s reserved strictly for programming.

“We are a community learning center,” Lane said, adding libraries not concentrating on programming are missing out on opportunities to reach more patrons. “We are very, very much program driven, making, doing, creating.”

In 2016, Lane and members of the library board began considering adding a new room to the existing building to accommodate programs. By 2018, they had developed a concept and cost estimate. At the time, the building across the street was for sale. After discovering the cost of purchasing a second building was comparable to adding on to the current one, they decided to look into it.

“It doesn’t make much sense not to take a look,” Lane said.

Knowing money was an issue, a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous loaned the library the $180,000 required to purchase the building. Lane emphasized the purchase was financed through a loan, not a gift. So far, the library has paid back about half, with the other half to be paid in the coming year. The loan helped the library take advantage of the opportunity and not risk losing it while fundraising, she said.

Although the new building is not connected to the existing library, it offers more space than the proposed addition, which would have measured about 12-by-15 feet.

“By buying this property, we gained parking and space,” Lane said.

The two-story building has an unfinished basement, which won’t be used. The second floor will initially be used for office space and storage, at least until the library can address handicap accessibility. In the meantime, the library has received a $7,500 grant from the Schoodic Community Foundation to build a ramp to the front door on the ground level.

“We’re very, very grateful,” Lane said, adding they hope to install a lift to the second floor at some point in the future.

The first floor will serve as an activity center. Already, weekly programs such as a youth gaming group, a music program and a Community Play Day now take place there.

The library is in the process of developing a list of new programs to better utilize the space. Plans include building portable cabinets to hold supplies for uses ranging from music to paper crafts.

The most important cabinet would house everything needed to provide technology — both devices and training — to patrons. To complement that, others cabinets would contain items such as a 3D printer and laser cutting materials or hardware and supplies for a digital studio.

Lane said providing access to technology is critically important for children who need internet access to complete homework assignments, and for adults considering relocating to the area.

“Once [the technology infrastructure] is built, it’s a draw to new families or new workers,” said Lane.

“It’s critically important to attract the people to live here,” she said.

Other cabinets will contain materials for fine arts, fiber and textile arts, cooking and tinkering and fixing things. The idea is to give people of all ages a chance to sample different activities. Such opportunities are important for learning and development, Lane said. For example, she said, the teens who participate in the weekly gaming group are doing more than playing.

“Those games are about creating a narrative and working collaboratively,” she said.

Outfitting all the cabinets will take time, but some changes will be made quickly. A large TV will be installed to allow patrons to do Skype conferencing.

Users may notice a few improvements already made, such as a new wood ceiling that has replaced mismatched ceiling tiles. Volunteer Craig Pursell worked with subcontractors to fix the ceiling and to reinforce the floor.

Johanna S. Billings

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Johanna S. Billings covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. An avid photographer, she lives in Steuben with her husband and several cats. She welcomes tips and story ideas. Email her at [email protected]

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