Falmouth library expands hours, mulls renovations

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FALMOUTH — While future plans for Falmouth Memorial Library are still in flux, it is now expanding its hours.

On Saturday, the library on Lunt Road will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  following feedback from the community and expanded programming, Director Andi Jackson-Darling said.

“It’s a reflection of how busy we are on Saturdays,” Jackson-Darling said. “People still work through the summer and want to come to the library after, so we’ve just shifted things internally so we can be open more for the public.”

The library also wants to encourage more accessibility for children to continue reading throughout the summer, she said.

Previously, the library was open 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

The library’s board of trustees is also mulling its next steps after shooting down a proposal in April to move into the former Falmouth elementary school buildings on Lunt Road.

The consensus of the board was to keep the library where it is and renovate the building, Jackson-Darling said.

“The feeling as a community is that we like where we are,” she said, adding that now trustees are in the early stages of planning for an expansion: they have selected an architectural firm to draw up preliminary plans. 

At the Town Council meeting Monday night, the council approved a $25,000 appropriation to help pay for the drawings. The selected firm had yet to be notified and its name will not be released until next week, said Kim Millick, president of the library board.

It was also unknown what portion of the total preliminary design cost the appropriation covers, although Councilor Sean Mahoney said the cost range was $21,000-$50,000.

Cost estimates for the library renovations are still premature, Jackson-Darling said.

And while the time line for the design and renovation is still undecided, Millick said they hope to have plans ready by Nov. 1 and will conduct neighborhood discussions to get input from the community.

One possibility for the changing design of the library and its grounds could be to reconfigure Depot Street to allow the library and the American Legion Post No. 164 to be combined on one property, Jackson-Darling said.

The library’s most pressing problem is space, the director said, noting staff have had to convert former small meeting spaces into offices. And an increase in programming demand has tightened the amount of working space available to patrons.

“We’ve done a lot of creative tweaking space and moving around moving furniture. It’s the best we can do right now,” she said. “There’s been so much more programming – children and adult programming – and now that space is being used more than it has been in the past.”

And now that school is out, tutors are coming in to teach and the library doesn’t have the appropriate space for them, Jackson-Darling said.

Although the library has now expanded its hours and seen an increase in demand for programming, the budget has remained relatively flat, she said.

Still, it is about $10,000 short of a $52,500 fundraising goal for operating costs by the end of the fiscal year, June 30. The library’s budget is 75 percent publicly funded and relies on community fundraising for the remainder.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.