Spend just a few minutes in any one of the Library’s branches, and you quickly see how many activities we host every day. Story times for our emerging readers, our Brown Bag Lunch series with local authors, exhibits and lectures on a range of topics – just to name a few. All our programing has its roots in our robust collection holdings, but these offerings also depend on having enough flexible space.
PPL has been working for some time to develop a long-term collections management strategy. While the Library has been the fortunate recipient of donated storage space over the past five years, we knew this was not a long-term solution. Our firm commitment to our print collections – which we will continue to expand alongside our eResources – meant we needed to find a sustainable solution to collections management. We found that one of our close, long-time collaborators, Maine Historical Society (MHS), was grappling with the same issues – how to maintain and grow collections, how to house materials appropriately while having them available for circulation or exhibits, how to ensure programs have enough space to flourish.
The more we spoke with our friends at MHS, the more both Boards felt that a joint solution would be ideal. On November 15, following a lengthy and exhaustive due-diligence process, the Library and MHS jointly purchased a property at 1000 Riverside Drive in Portland that will ultimately serve as a shared collections management center (SCMC). The 35,000 square foot building is in the process of being developed on a timetable that will allow both organizations to move in sometime early spring.
PPL and MHS are sharing all purchase and renovation-related costs equally, and our financing was arranged accordingly. No taxpayer funds are being used to acquire or refurbish the building, and our fundraising plan does not anticipate any public monies. There are a number of individuals and private foundations who are very excited about this collaboration and its impact on the ways the PPL and MHS can serve the city of Portland from their Congress Street locations. Some of those folks have already stepped forward to support this project while others are considering how they’d like to be involved.
I am excited both about this collaboration between two of the city’s cultural anchors and the implications this has for our respective programs as well as the evolving dynamic of Congress Street. For us here at the Library, the SCMC will be critical to our ability to move sections of our holdings off-site so we can offer engaging, educational programs for all ages in our branch locations. We will be able to continue to build our collection – including the strongest fiction collection in Northern New England – knowing that we have quality storage available for items, easily accessed for circulation to our sites and around the state. The SCMC will also serve as the headquarters for the Library’s Bookmobile, which continues to provide materials and programing to those Mainers – seniors, the recent immigrant community, those on the economic margins – who face physical, cultural, or practical barriers to reaching a Library branch location.
While this may seem like a new effort for the Library, it is really just the latest expression of our core values: our long-standing commitment to enrich our community, to steward our collections, and to offer programing that enriches, enlightens, and engages.
Watch for Part 2 of this post next week, with an update on our Burbank and Riverton branch locations.