Library Campaign passes $500,000

The South Berwick Library celebrated reaching $500,000 in fundraising for the bUilding Fund at the Annual Book Sale in June.  The Friends welcomed residents to an Open House inside the Great Hall, where the Book Sale was held.

By Suanne Laurent, Seacoast Online
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — The Great Hall was filled with rows of all genres of books and other media Saturday at the Friends of the South Berwick Library's annual book sale.

With a simultaneous open house being held, it was also a chance for residents to get a peek at the space being transformed into the town's new library. The library moved in March from the historic Jewett Eastman House on Portland Street to the former Saint Michael's Catholic Church at 27 Young St.


The open house was held in conjunction with the book sale to celebrate the Friends organization reaching the halfway mark in a $1 million capital campaign for the new library.

"Several recent gifts and pledges have put us over $500,000," said Patti Mitchem, president of the Friends.

Mitchem said the Friends were pleased to reach $500,000 because a $20,000 grant awarded by the Davis Family Foundation in 2010 was contingent upon reaching that benchmark.

Library services are currently being offered in the small addition to the building while the Great Hall is under construction.

The book sale earned "well over $1,000," Mitchem said. "We sent a truckload of unsold books over to Goodwill and the York County Shelter."

A $1 donation was asked for most books, with a little more asked for a selection of books hand-picked by a collector, which included Andrew Wyeth's "The Helga Pictures."

Mitchem said a wall separating the addition and the Great Hall will be taken down over the summer, and the hall will be carpeted.

"We still need to raise the rest of the money to finish the main room," she said.

The new library will boast 6,800 square feet of space, compared to 1,500 in the old building, and ample parking.

Mitchem said there will be a picture book nook for young children with wide, comfortable benches, and a young adult area that will be furnished appropriately for that age group. The central area will have flexible space that will accommodate 75 to 100 people for events.

Resident Lisa McColley was at the book fair with her 12-year-old daughter, Mary. "This will be a lot more accessible for people," the youngster said as she picked through some books.

Added her mother, "There was not a comfortable chair to sit in at the old library."

Another resident commented on the new landscaping as she left the building.

"It's looking really nice," she said.

Salmon Falls Nursery donated the landscaping.

It took just about two years to reach the halfway mark for the library's capital campaign and Mitchem estimates it will be about 1½ to 2 years before the library is complete.

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