PORTLAND — The Portland Public Library will close its main branch March 16-30 as it prepares for major renovations.
When it reopens March 31, the main library will operate out of a compact space for about a year, consolidating services to the rear of the the lower level. The Monument Square entrance to the library will be closed and visitors will enter on Elm Street.
“It’s going to be a different kind of place for a year,” said Steve Podgajny, executive director of the library.
While new books, the young fiction collection and the music/movies/audio-book collection will remain mostly intact, only about 10 percent of the rest of the library collections will be available. Computer stations will be reduced to 12, and there will be no separation between adult and youth stations. Seating will essentially be unavailable.
“I’m feeling very concerned about that, but we have to get on with the project,” Podgajny said of the limited public computers and seating. “We have 380,000 visitors a year. It’s a big deal.”
The library will store its displaced materials in a Reed Street warehouse donated by JB Brown. Materials stored there will be distributed when online requests from users are picked up and delivered to branch libraries.
During renovations, the Portland Room will be available by appointment only, and the piano will not be available.
The Brown Bag Lunch Series is moving to Community Television Network facilities on Congress Street and the programs will air on CTN. Podgajny said he was especially excited about the partnership.
The first phase of renovations includes the main floor and the lower level, Rines Auditorium and other public gathering spaces. The facade of the library is expected to undergo a dramatic transformation, with the addition of a glass front and a “solar chimney” meant to capture air, heat it and then send it to the building’s rooftop ventilation system. There will also be a giant video screen mounted to the front of the building.
The main stairwell will be open so visitors can see down from the main floor to the lower level. A cafe is also planned for the front of the library. The new design will allow the front of the library to remain open at night for public events.
There will be a separate teen section and a children’s section on the main floor.
The renovations were designed by Scott Simons of Scott Simons Architects. Ledgewood Construction is doing the work.
Podgajny said he expects the first phase to take about a year.