Late drive puts Falmouth library campaign over the top

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FALMOUTH — After more than three years of fundraising, Falmouth Memorial Library reached its $2.81 million goal.

Construction of a planned new building is expected to move forward this summer.

In a 2014 referendum, residents agreed to pay half the cost of the new library if the organization could raise the other half privately. The total cost of the renovation and expansion project is $5.62 million.

“I was very optimistic that the community would come through,” Andi Jackson-Darling, the library director, said Tuesday. “But the past two weeks have just been unbelievable in terms of the support we’ve gotten.”

Under an agreement with the town, the library had until Dec. 31, 2017, to raise its share of the capital.

The library is still totaling up all the donations, and Jackson-Darling said she believes when it’s all added up, the total will exceed the original fundraising goal.

In mid-December the library received a much-needed boost to its fundraising efforts when an anonymous donor offered a $250,000 matching grant.

The library still had to raise $600,000 to meet its year-end deadline.

“It speaks volumes how we all pulled together to make this happen,” Jackson-Darling said. “From young kids giving us $10 bills, to new people signing up for a library card and donating at the same time, to people handing over large checks, it was just marvelous.”

She said before ground can be broken on the new building the final construction documents must be created. The library also needs site plan approval from the Planning Board, as well as several permits from the state.

“We’re having a party today” with cake and balloons, Jackson-Darling said, “but then we’ll be getting down to work again.”

Marsha Clark, president of the library board, agreed that the last month of fundraising “has been just amazing.”

“I’m not surprised, because I knew we would make our goal,” Clark said. “But the outpouring at the end made a huge difference.”

Clark said people were writing checks “the last two minutes before the library closed” on Dec. 30.

Both Clark and Jackson-Darling were particularly pleased with the support of young people, from a young girl who handed over $20 just before Christmas, to the boy who held a Pokemon event, and the Falmouth Middle School community, which held a book sale this past fall.

“I think this bodes very well for the future of the library,” Clark said. “I think they realized the impact they could have.”

“Across the board people realized the importance” of supporting the library’s efforts to become a 21st-century institution, she added.

Clark said people who no longer live in Falmouth, but still have ties or warm memories of the community, also stepped up. “People from Alaska to Virginia to Florida were making donations,” she said, “as were those from Portland, Yarmouth and Cumberland.”

While Clark said the anonymous $250,000 grant was key, “people stepped up at many different levels and it all added up and made a huge difference. In the end, it was the small, individual donations that put us over the top.”

Both Clark and Jackson-Darling said they can’t thank the community enough.

The hope going forward, Jackson-Darling said, is for the library to become a true focal point for the community.

“It’s not just about books, it’s about creating a facility where people want to come, from the youngest in town to the oldest,” she said in a prior interview.

The plan is to add another 8,000 square feet to the library. The original farmhouse and a 1964 addition will be razed and replaced, while the 1995 entry lobby will remain.

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

Library functions will move out of the building while construction takes place.

That means the children’s and adult libraries will be split, with the kids programming moved to the Mason-Motz Activity Center, while the adult library will be housed at Town Hall.

Neither Jackson-Darling nor Clark are thrilled with that plan, but both said the library has looked for a suitable temporary location for more than a year and nothing has panned out. Both said if anyone has space they would like to donate, they should contact the library.

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

Marsha Clark, left, and Andi Jackson-Darling celebrate Tuesday, Jan. 2, after Falmouth Memorial Library met its fundraising goal for renovations and an addition. Clark is the board president and Jackson-Darling is the library director.