Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the questions we receive most frequently from the community. If your question isn't answered here please add one using the form at the bottom of the page.

The planning process began as part of the 2016 three-year Strategic Plan. Last year the work included community surveys and discussions about the future space. This year it has continued with the involvement of nationally-recognized library space planning consultant Anders Dahlgren. His expertise involves creating a library space planning guide that details the essential connection between a library’s service goals and its space needs. The simple conclusion is that we need specific improvements to more appropriately serve the needs of the community – especially as a gathering place for seniors, singles, young families, and youth.

The space planning project was timed to provide information for the architectural planning process that began this month. The architects, Scott Simons Architects, are beginning to work with the community in a multiple-phase engagement including:

  • “Test Fit” the Building Program Development
  • Develop Alternative Concept Plans
  • Community Workshops in early 2020
  • Preferred Concept Plan

In addition to significant community engagement in the planning process and ballot measures, the Library accepts the responsibility to raise private support through a capital campaign. This planning is expected to begin shortly after the start of the year.

You can also visit our up-to-date timeline posted on this website.

The simple fact is that the library is more active than ever. As library Executive Director Nancy Crowell has said “we continue to move from collections to connections.”

“Over the last twenty years, libraries across the country have made tremendous strides to expand public access to e-resources through technology stations,” reports library space planning consultant, Anders Dahlgren. “Two important measures of access to these resources compare the number of computers with population served and with the number of annual visitors received at the library.” The Scarborough Public Library surpasses its peers on both of these benchmarks and others.

  • Today, the Scarborough library provides 39 technology stations for public use. This well exceeds the current-day benchmarks derived from the national, regional, and in-state cohorts.
  • The library’s current-day tally also exceeds the service benchmarks that derive from the national, regional and in-state cohorts for the library’s projected population.
  • In circulation numbers per capita, each item in the Scarborough collection circulated 2.72 times, on average, which places the library above the three cohort benchmarks in every case.
  • In 2016, Scarborough tallied 132,710 visits, which again, when compared against all three cohorts, places Scarborough above state, regional and national peer benchmarks.
  • Visits will increase to between 185,000 and 200,000 by 2040!

Learn more about how libraries are more relevant than ever here

We like to think we're one of the best libraries in the region, but we are far from the biggest. In fact, as the table below shows, we're currently one of the smallest libraries per capita in Maine; and even if we double our space, we'll still be below average in size. However, our new space will be highly efficient and built to be adaptable for the future. While we don't need to be the biggest library to be the best, our current space constraints are impacting the quality and quantity of our services and collections.

Chart showing comparative library sizes in Maine

Parking needs are likely to increase. From a practical perspective, as expanded space provides for larger and concurrent programs, there will need to be parking to accommodate attendees. The library will consider how adjacent areas could be incorporated into planning to reduce impervious surfaces.

The current library building was constructed 30 years ago. The structure was designed with “wings” that could expand the building on the current parcel as the town grew.

In 1989 the town population was just over 12,000. Today it is over 20,000. By 2040 the town population is expected to be above 27,000. Preliminary work suggests even with this growth, it will be possible to expand at the current location.

The 2018 community survey results suggest that well over three-quarters of the participants believe:

  • The Library has a convenient location;
  • It is an important public space for the community that anyone can use for free; and
  • The Library is an essential service for a growing town like Scarborough.

An early estimate, based on the floorplans presented on this site, is around $12,000,000. We are committed to a substantial private fundraising effort, but a majority of the cost would be included in a bond proposal that we hope will be on the ballot this November.

There are a couple of problems with expanding up rather than out. For one, book stacks require much more support than typical building construction. The ground in Scarborough, especially over on our parcel of the town "campus," isn't as supportive as is typical either. Moreover, our foundation wasn't originally built with a second floor expansion in mind.

That said, we could move other service areas besides book collections to an expanded second floor assuming our parcel would safely support even that (not a given, by any means). However, expanding up adds other costs, including handicapped accessibility and additional staffing. Our first choice is to expand outward.

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