Renovations planned at 2 Portland library branches

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PORTLAND — Two branches of the Portland Public Library will be renovated in the coming months.

The Burbank branch, at 311 Stevens Ave., will close for renovations at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. The work is expected to take six to seven months. The Peaks Island Library and Community Center is slated for renovations over the winter.

Executive Director Sarah Campbell said renovations to the 3,900-square-foot Burbank branch have been planned for years, and mostly have to do with the layout and some “structural and ergonomic” changes.

Changes will include adding a self-service checkout counter, rearranging the floor plan for more seating, and adding an elevator so the second floor will be more accessible.

“It will be a much better experience for the public,” Campbell said.

Campbell said the cost of renovating Burbank will be $300,000, which will come from the city’s capital improvement budget. PPL has occupied the Burbank location since 1995.

While Burbank is being renovated, Campbell said, the Riverton branch at 1600 Forest Ave. will expand its hours. She said it will be open more hours a week – 47 – than Burbank is now, and staff from Burbank will move to Riverton during the renovation.

“We’re more than doubling the number of hours it’s open,” Campbell said.

The extended hours at Riverton will begin on Dec. 7: Mondays 1-6 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Regular hours at both libraries will resume after the renovations are complete at Burbank. 

“The branches are so well loved and heavily used, we wanted … to not miss a beat,” Campbell said.

Much of the Burbank collection will be moved to a storage facility, but Campbell said any item can be requested online and picked up at any branch.

The date for renovations to begin at the 2,000-square-foot Peaks Island Library and Community Center has not been set.

Like Burbank, Campbell said, the project will include accessibility, ergonomic and structural improvements, such as enclosing a porch and reconfiguring some facilities. Just over 400 square feet of library space will be added.

She said since the library is also a community center, it is a joint project between the library and the city’s Recreation & Facilities Management Department.

The projected cost for improvements at Peaks Island is $650,000. A fundraising effort on the island has netted $200,000 in pledges. Campbell said private funds are being solicited, and library staffers are working with the city to procure the balance. The Peaks branch has been open since 1979.

Emily Levine, PPL’s development and external relations director, said the construction bidding process will begin this winter, and renovations are scheduled to begin by fall 2016. The goal is to have the library fully operational by the summer of 2017.

She said PPL is working to secure an interim facility to continue offering library services on Peaks Island during renovation.

“We’re excited,” Campbell said. “Both projects are a way to update these libraries and have them provide wonderful experiences for people to come together learn, to convene, and to have community conversations.”

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

The Burbank branch of the Portland Public Library on Stevens Avenue will close for renovations on Dec. 5.

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