Falmouth library finally on downhill side of fundraising for expansion

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FALMOUTH — Trustees of Falmouth Memorial Library have passed the halfway point in their commitment to raise 50 percent of the $5.62 million earmarked for a significant addition and renovation.

The library has raised about $1.5 million and hopes to raise the remaining $1.3 million thanks to a new fundraiser called the 1718 Society, and other special events planned for 2017.

It was 2014 when voters initially approved a bond for $2.81 million with the understanding that the library would privately raise another $2.81 million. The Town Council in September gave the library another year, until the end of 2017, to complete its share of the fundraising. 

Nearly three years after the bond referendum was approved, library Director Andi Jackson-Darling acknowledged there is a mix of impatience and understanding among library patrons and staff. She said while “it’s been a long process and some patrons want to get going,” they also know that fundraising can be difficult and painstaking.

In addition to the 1718 Society, which asks 300 individuals, families or local businesses to commit to a total donation of $3,000, or $600 over each of the next five years, the library is also planning a mass mailing in the spring.

Even with more than $1 million yet to raise, Marsha Clark, president of the library’s board of trustees, is still hoping for a groundbreaking next fall, which would allow the library expansion to open to the public the following year, just in time for the town’s 300th anniversary.

She said the addition and renovation is “all about needing more space. The library is the focal point of the community. It’s not just about about books, it’s about creating a facility where people want to come; from the youngest in town to the oldest.”

Clark said the library is the only place in town where residents can come free of charge, and find something “designed especially for them.” She said the new library will be all about “making connections” and that “it will be about people.”

Jackson-Darling said the library expansion and renovation project is “a recognition of the changes and evolution of libraries. They’re now about people; connecting people with the information and resources they need. And people need more space than a stack of books.”

The goal, she added, is “keeping up with changes and staying relevant.” Jackson-Darling said along with adding another 8,000 square feet to the library, the construction project will allow the space to be flexible and energy efficient.

As part of the project, the original farmhouse and a 1964 addition would both be razed and replaced, while the 1995 entry lobby would remain.

Like Clark, Jackson-Darling is “very optimistic” that “we’ll get this done” by late fall 2018. “This is a very, very exciting project and ours is a great organization, with a great staff in a great and supportive community.”

Overall, according to the library website, “our much-needed expansion will allow us to maintain the traditions and practices of the past while crafting and leading the way to new and exciting traditions for our future.”

The construction project includes a separate youth services wing, a variety of new community seating areas, a separate reading room and increased access to computers and other technology, among other innovations.

Both Clark and Jackson-Darling said there is no fundraising idea too small or unusual, citing both a recent Pokemon tournament that raised $107, and a bottle- flipping contest at the middle school.

“We’re always working on raising awareness” of the expansion project, Clark said. “And if we’re extra successful, we’ll be able to afford some add-ons that would make the project even more special.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

An architectural rendering of what the expanded Falmouth Memorial Library would look like after a $5.62 million, 8,000-square-foot project is finished.