After 3 years, Harpswell library renovations nearly complete
HARPSWELL — The renovation of the Orr's Island Library is nearly complete after three years of construction and an outpouring of local and national financial support.
The library's treasurer, John Webster, said the $450,000 project has raised about $360,000 in cash donations. He said the support comes from a mix of local residents and people who either live in Harpswell seasonally or have lived there in the past.
The out-of-state donations represent about 30 states, Webster said.
"It's been very impressive," he said, "and we've had incredible support."
Orr's Island Library is operated as a private nonprofit organization, Webster said, and it was originally built in 1905. While the building has received improvements over the past decade, he said it was time to make a larger investment on the library.
A large portion of the donations, in particular, comes from Albert Moren of Guns Point, who gave $30,000 in three installments over the past three years.
Webster said Moren's gift is meant to fund work on the library's 107-year-old reading room, which will be named after Moren's late wife, Sue Fisher Moren.
"He was looking for a place to memorialize her," Webster said. There will also be a shelf dedicated to Fisher Moren's favorite books.
To solicit more donations, Webster said Moren challenged other supporters to match each donation amount, which was met each time with a larger amount.
Moren's 2010 donation of $5,000 was meet with around $6,000, his 2011 donation of $12,500 with about $14,000 and his 2012 donation of another $12,500 with $16,000, the library's treasurer said.
Altogether, Moren and the supporters who matched his donations raised around $66,000.
In addition to those donations, Webster said the municipality has also donated $50,000 that was given in installments over the past few years.
"I think these libraries in Harpswell – Orr's Island Library and Cundy's Harbor Library – are institutional gems," Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said, "and they are both assets to the community."
Webster said while there are only a few items left on the checklist to complete the building, a grand opening won't happen until next year after landscaping work is done.
In the meantime, Webster said the library is looking to pay off the rest of the project with a few grants and finish small projects like installing a bulletin board, a commemorative plaque and a toilet that is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
So far, he said, the group has added more storage, stabilized the original building, built an additional reading room and installed an ADA-compliant wheelchair lift.
"We hope to make a huge deal of it when we make it to the end," Webster said.