Falmouth library sees tie-in with town's 300th anniversary

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FALMOUTH —The next chapter in a fundraising campaign to expand Falmouth Memorial Library will turn an eye both toward the future and the past.

In an effort to commemorate the town’s upcoming 300th anniversary in 2018, while continuing to reach a fundraising goal of $2.81 million, the library’s capital campaign committee is looking for donors to join the 1718 Society, a group of what they hope to be at least 300 people giving at least $3,000 over the course of five years.

Marsha Clark, president of the library board of trustees, said fundraising is at the halfway point. While donors large and small are still being sought, the capital campaign committee came up with the 1718 Society as a way to tie in the town’s history by marking the 300th anniversary, also known as the tercentennial celebration.

“It’s not much, but it’s such a nice tie-in with our history,” Clark said.

Clark said the plan is to open the new library on Nov. 11, 2018, which is believed to be the day the town’s letter of incorporation was signed in 1718. Members of the 1718 Society would get an exclusive look at the finished space before it opens to the public, as well as a combined commemorative membership card for both the society and the library, a tote bag and recognition.

“A small group of people can make a huge difference,” Clark said.

Tercentennial coordinator Erin Cadigan said the idea of the town’s future is compelling and valuable, and that’s part of the tercentennial committee’s focus as well – not just the past, but also an eye “to who we want to be in the future.”

“We’re both telling the same story here,” Cadigan said of the library and tercentennial committee.

Cadigan said part of a tercentennial celebration would include landmark architecture and iconic buildings in town such as the library.

“I can see the library working into whatever event we do (on Nov. 11, 2018),” Cadigan said.

The library capital campaign committee has already begun sending out mailings about the 1718 Society to between 700 and 800 people they feel may be interested. Members are hoping word about the society spreads and more will want to join.

“Three hundred is a doable goal,” Clark said.

The expansion project carries a $5.62 million price tag; in 2014, voters approved a referendum requiring the town to contribute up to half the funds. The library initially had until the end of this year to raise the money, but were given an extension by the Town Council to Dec. 31, 2017.

Clark said members don’t feel they will need all the time allowed in the extension to meet their goal, as the library will host other fundraising events as the year progresses.  A schedule of events can be found on the library’s website.

Donations range from $10 given by a middle school student to $250,000 from a business owner. Clark said the $10 donation means just as much as the $250,000.

“That’s equal sacrifice,” she said.

Cadigan said in asking people to become part of the 1718 Society, they are asking people to stretch themselves, and part of the tercentennial celebration theme will be giving and working together.

“It’s amazing how interconnected it’s all becoming,” Cadigan said.

Clark said the Society is an opportunity for people not to just rally around the library, but to “rally around the community.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

The Falmouth Memorial Library expansion committee has raised about $1.2 million of the $2.81 million required by the end of 2017.  Members hope a new fundraiser will help reach that goal.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.