Yarmouth library starts new chapter after $2.5M renovation

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YARMOUTH — Merrill Memorial Library will open its doors Sunday for a community open house to celebrate the completion of a $2.5 million renovation.

The updated library will be open Dec. 7 from 2-4 p.m. It will reopen for regular library operations sometime next week, but as of Dec. 1, a date had not been set.

The 108-year-old building at 215 Main St. has been closed since February after voters in June 2013 passed a $1.5 million renovation bond. The additional $1 million was raised through a capital campaign.

The open house will begin with a ribbon cutting at the library entrance, which has been updated with the addition of an enclosed, 1,000-square-foot entry. The area, done in brick and dark wood, offers many places to sit and features large windows and a skylight.

“We thought we’d have a nice welcoming structure where you can sit and talk, park a stroller, drink coffee,” Gro Flatebo, president of the library board of trustees, said. “And there’s Wi-Fi out there.”

Flatebo said the space, named the Gorman Wilson Welcome Area, also protects people from the falling snow or ice above the doorway, which was a problem in the past. It also keeps people from having to walk down an icy path to get to the library door.

The renovated library gained a total of 6,000 square feet and has many new features and updates. There are additional parking spaces, new bathrooms, a new reading room, and new staircases, among other things.

The library also now has access to the third floor, which was being used by the Yarmouth Historical Society. The historical society has moved, and the third floor now houses a staff area and kitchen, and has space suitable for large-group gatherings and programs.

“We’re really excited to have this extra space to ramp up our library programs,” Flatebo said.

Flatebo said book groups can meet on the third floor, and a projector has been installed for presentations. Flatebo said it will also be used for library movie nights.

On the first floor, the children’s area has been redone with new bookcases and a story-time corner. There are also tutoring rooms on this level, where people can meet in small groups or pairs, and work without disturbing others in the library.

The second floor has new light fixtures and a reading room. The Joan Wilber Goddard Reading Room, named for a resident and library trustee who died in 2012, has replaced the previous staff room. A wall was removed to create a common area, and new tables and bookcases have been installed.

The library, which was built in 1905, didn’t have a sprinkler system before the renovation and it had old wiring. These have been updated, as have the heating and air conditioning systems.

“Really there hadn’t been much work done to the building in 20 years,” Philip Jones, vice president of the board of trustees, said. “It was in crying need of TLC.”

The windows, which are still the original ones from when the library was first built, have also been redone and insulated. Flatebo said the library hopes to cut fuel costs by 40 percent.

The updated library was designed by Barba and Wheelock Architecture of Portland, and construction was completed by Landry/French of Scarborough. Flatebo said the construction moved quickly while the library operated out of a temporary space on Forest Falls Drive.

Flatebo and Jones said there were 700 donors to the capital campaign. They said this shows how much the community cares about the library, although they are still looking for additional donations to buy more furniture.

“Clearly I think in many ways the library serves as a community center,” Jones said. “It’s very much the beating heart of Yarmouth. I think the public support shows that.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Sidebar Elements


From planning to completion, renovation of Merrill Memorial Library at 215 Main St. in Yarmouth has taken 2 1/2 years.

Board President Gro Flatebo, left, and Vice President Philip Jones on a new staircase at Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, which reopens next week after a $2.5 million renovation.

Inside the new entryway at Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, which brings in natural light and offers patrons a place to sit and chat.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.