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Check out the new Bangor Public Library

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Barbara McDade leads a group of people on a tour of the new renovation at the Bangor Public Library on Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016. Barbara McDade leads a group of people on a tour of the new renovation at the Bangor Public Library on Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016. (edge photo by Kevin Bennett)

Years-long renovation project approaches its end

BANGOR The long wait is almost over the lengthy renovation of the Bangor Public Library has almost reached its conclusion.

The end is so close, in fact, that the library hosted an open house on Aug. 31 to offer tours and show the public just what kind of changes have been made to the venerable institution. While the facility has been open and operating for almost the entirety of the project, this was the first time that the library has had the opportunity to really show off its new look.

And it looks GREAT.

The project which has taken about three years if you include the time spent working on replacing the building's copper roof cost roughly $9 million all told. Of that amount, $3 million was a gift from Stephen and Tabitha King and another $3 million was courtesy of a bond from the City of Bangor for the roof work; the remaining funds came from an assortment of grants, foundations and donors.

There have been plenty of changes, according to Barbara McDade, the library's director. For instance, there have been a lot of things added and altered that relate to the lBPL's younger patrons.

'The Children's room moved from the first floor to the third,' she said. 'We did this because of people's concern for safety. It turned out amazingly well.The youngest children look out over a green grass roof onto the cityscape; the room is filled with light and lots of books and things to do. There is a wonderful story room and a clubroom where children can play board games or study.

'Behind the area for the younger children there is also a room for the tweens, and another area for the teens - the teen area has a small gaming room and two study rooms.'

While there have been some great additions for the kids, there's plenty to like for the grown-ups too. The third floor sports a new dedicated art space; in fact, the BPL now has three different areas intended for the exhibition of the work of local artists.

Meanwhile, on the second floor, the library has added a business center that is intended to be used as a sort of co-working space an area where small business owners or those working out of their homes might come to meet clients, seek quiet workspace or just work alongside other people for a while. The center features a pair of small meeting rooms, as well as comfortable seating, desks, lockers, well-appointed computers and a higher-end printer and copier set-up. Usage of this area will be subject to a fee.

The second floor also features an expanded Local History/Special Collections section. With more space and more access, McDade expects people to have an easier time when learning more about the city's history or working on family trees or other genealogical projects.

The first floor features a beautiful new atrium space that looks out over Harlow Street. The airy space will feature Sage Caf by Seasons; McDade believes the public 'is really going to enjoy the space.' The atrium as well as the new Crofutt Community Room and the Board Room will allow community groups to use library space for programs that can last later than the facility's usual hours.

It can't have been easy for anyone patrons and staff alike to make things work in the midst of all this, but McDade praised the resilience of everyone involved.

'Through this whole process the library staff has been amazing, helping the public while enduring all the noise, fumes, dust, moving and seeming chaos,' McDade said. 'It has not been an easy ride for the staff and I know they are glad that the construction is just about over. They have done an amazing job helping public, moving collections, adding glades and RFID tags [along with] other projects to help the library move forward.'

As for how the public will react to the many changes, McDade is optimistic.

'What we hope will please people the most is how we have blended the old and the new,' she said. 'We worked hard to keep the best of the 1912 building and build on that for the new and renovated spaces. We hope we are doing that with the services, too.'

While there are those myself included with very specific memories of how the Bangor Public Library used to be, rest assured that there's nothing to fear. Yes, things have changed, but while it might look different, the spirit of the Bangor Public Library remains.

'Bangor expects a good library,' said McDade. 'We hope we have positioned the building and services to meet the community's needs.'

They have indeed. Go check it out.

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