Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do we need a library?

  • Of all the institutions, both public and private, the public library is the truest democratic space. Libraries today function as community learning centers, offering access to technology, digital resources and meeting spaces, as well as books, whether printed or electronic. Libraries remain the great equalizer, affording everyone equal access to information and resources.
  • Rockport’s library is a vital part of its infrastructure and is extremely important to the people that live here. In fact, a town-wide survey revealed that 74 percent of the respondents feel that way. Over 80% hold a library card and visit the library 33 times in a given year.
  • Clearly, Rockport residents are very active and engaged library users. They feel strongly about the role of the library in our community.

2. Why do we need a new library?

  • After nearly 70 years of wear-and-tear and four renovations, the old library building has outlived its usefulness and reached its limit for growth. As a consequence, Rockport residents can no longer have their needs met by the old library.
  • Usage has increased steadily since it was built and is projected to climb even further. In the past 10 years alone, our library program participation has increased 400 percent. Total circulation figures (or how many articles of information come and go) show that we rank 3rd in the state for libraries in towns of our size... 2nd for programs for adults... yet we are dead last in size!

3. How is the new library going to serve us better?

  • Unquestionably, how people use our library has changed. For example, our statewide inter-library loan program now makes hundreds of thousands of books available, far beyond anything we could have provided on our own, but it increases the man-hours of the staff in the daily transport of books between libraries underscoring the need for more adaptable spaces.
  • The new library is designed to be expanded as usage increases and to adapt to the changing needs of the community. It offers increased parking, easy access, technological resources (including ultra-high speed internet) and generally provides a much more comfortable environment to be in.

4. How much will the new library cost?

  • It will cost approximately $3.5 million to build a new library, of which $1.5 million will be funded through the Town. Again, surveys show that the majority of residents are comfortable with allocating that amount. The remaining costs will be covered by individual and corporate donations.

5. How much will it cost me?

  • The cost to the average taxpayer in Rockport would be approximately $40 per year, based on a property valuation of $360,000. Since the amount is based on the value of your home or property, you can download the calculator file below to determine exactly how much you’ll pay toward the new library.

6. What are we getting for $3.5 Million?

  • A 7,000-square-foot modern library with an additional 3,000 square feet for future expansion.
  • A two-story building with flexible space to accommodate future technological needs.
  • A dedicated space for teens and small children, allowing us to greatly expand our services to support early childhood literacy and raising readers.

7. How does that compare with other towns?

  • When compared to six other towns in Maine of similar size, Rockport ranks dead last in library square footage for its population. Rockport’s population is 3,335, and the old library measured 3,200 square feet. Currently that translates into less than one square foot for every resident. Compare that to Camden with a population of 5,200 and a library of 13,500 square feet. That’s almost three square feet for every Camden resident.
  • Based on extensive surveying and polling, Rockport residents determined that the right size for us was 7,000 square feet, which is consistent with research from the American Library Association for a town of our size.

Additional Questions

8. Couldn’t we fix the old library building?

  • As we said previously, after nearly 70 years of wear and tear, and four renovations, the former library building was no longer safe for employees or patrons. Water damage and drainage issues had caused foundation problems and there was some evidence of mold in two of the basements. The second story was never built to house office space and no safe exit was available. An engineering study that identified these issues was completed in June 2015; this report is available as a PDF by clicking on the link below.*
  • While the current rented building on Route One works fairly well, it was not designed to be a library and has a number of functional and additional cost challenges that would compromise its long-term use. Plus there is a significant safety issue entering and exiting on Route One.

9. How many handicapped parking spaces?

  • The plan allows for two designated handicapped spaces, which meets the ADA requirement for a building of this size.

10. Is there room for expansion?

  • Yes, under the Children’s Room is a large unfinished area at the Russell Avenue level that will add another 3,000 square feet of usable space at some point in the future.

11. What hi tech things will the new library have?

  • The new library is ideally situated to use the Town-owned ultra-high-speed fiber optic network that was installed a couple years ago. Users will have ready access to cutting-edge Virtual Reality equipment as well. Finally, the new building is designed to stay flexible to accommodate new technologies as they become available.

12. Is there a meeting room and how many seats?

  • We’ve anticipated a number of meeting rooms of varying capacity. The Tutor Room will seat from 6 to 10 and offers quiet, confidential space for study, work and meeting with clients. The Marine Room will also seat 6 to 10 and is a multi-use space. A Program Room on the lower level is a larger multi-use space for both daytime and after-hours events that can seat 35 to 40.

13. How much more will it cost to operate a larger building? Will you need more staffing? What about all the costs to operate the Library... who pays for those?

  • Operating a building that’s much larger will be more costly to run. However, it will be very energy efficient so we expect to offer much more in the way of space and services at a lower cost. Finally, the building is designed in such a way that we will not need to hire any new staff unless greater usage demands it ...and that would be a good thing. (Note that approximately 20 percent of the Operating costs are covered by an endowment fund overseen by the Library Committee.)

14. Will the new building have solar panels?

  • Solar panels were not included the initial plan due to budget considerations, but the building is ideally situated to add them in the future as costs diminish.

15. Why this location?

  • After years of town-wide debate, including a town vote in 2014 and multiple surveys, the Select Board decided to keep the library in the historic Rockport Village at the head of the harbor.

16. What’s the timeline for building the new library?

  • The goal is to break ground in June 2019, but that depends on how fast we can raise the $2 million to match the $1.5 million bond. Once we break ground, the actually building should take around 12 months.

17. What if the vote in November fails?

  • We’re extremely confident that the voters will approve the new library plan in this November’s election. Of course, your support assures that it will pass. In the year or more since the last vote, the Town’s leadership has done extensive surveying of the community to ensure that everyone’s concerns were heard and addressed as best they could. In fact, in the many meetings held to present the new building plans, the response has been universally positive and virtually everyone in the room came away feeling enthusiastic about getting the new library built.
  • If you’re a prospective donor and are wondering what would happen to your pledge, you won’t be obligated in any way unless the vote passes.

18. How can I help?

  • You can advocate for the plan and help us get an overwhelming number of voters to pass the bond issue this coming November! That is the number one thing that needs to happen first. A strong vote of support goes a long way to building enthusiasm among private donors and gets us to our fundraising goal faster.