Construction of our new library began June 7, 2019 with the official Groundbreaking Ceremony. On hand to speak and toss a ceremonial shovelful of dirt were Select Board Chair Ken McKinley, Town Manager Rick Bates, Architect Steve Smith, PHI Builder’s Bettina Doulton, Library Director Ben Blackmon, and RLF Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Joan Welsh and Bill Leone. Thank you to all the many people that worked tirelessly toward this momentous occasion over the years. We can't wait to be in our new building so we can serve the community better than ever.
The Rockport Public Library is a living symbol of Rockport’s commitment to the idea that all people should have equal access to information, new technology and be welcomed into the heart of the community. More than just a building that holds books, the Rockport Public Library is the community’s gathering and learning center.
At the Rockport Public Library, people come to engage in many different ways. It can happen quietly as a child or adult reads a story that transports them to new places, or as neighbors listen intently to a speaker or pick up new skills in a workshop. Sometimes we connect while reading a poem or with light-hearted laughter as parents and children create crafts. These are the bonds of community engagement that benefit us all. Having no library in Rockport would mean losing more than just a building. We’d lose a vital part of who we are.
A Century of Service
The role Rockport Public Library plays in our community has grown significantly during the past several decades. Uses are changing — books now can be checked out in audio and downloadable formats. The staff strives to offer all of the technological services of a modern library and meet the cutting edge needs of the next generation of patrons, while maintaining the inviting, small-town community the Library always has been. Usage has only increased since it was built back in 1949, and it’s projected to climb even further. In the past 10 years alone, our library program participation has increased 400 percent.
By the Numbers (in 2016)
59,496 items checked out
5,815 questions answered
6,942 program participants
4,125 computer searches
Recognizing the imperative of expanding library space and services for the future, the Rockport Select Board initiated a community outreach process several years ago to gather input on what community members want to see in a new library.
A Plan for a Beautiful New Library
In response to all this, a dedicated team of local architects and engineers have settled on a handsome, two-story 7,000 sq. ft. building with a brick façade, patios and a small garden overlooking Rockport Harbor. The new library in the heart of downtown Rockport, with entrances on both Limerock Street and Russell Avenue, will continue the library’s tradition of serving as the community’s gathering place and providing a vital space for community engagement.
The plan for the site also includes a redesigned intersection of Russell, Union and Limerock streets, with the expectation that the Maine Department of Transportation will step in to assist with funding this important traffic infrastructure improvement. The intersection redesign would remove the existing island that lies in the middle where the three roads merge.
The site plan also calls for creating new parking spaces, including dedicated parking, across Limerock Street from the new library, which would indent into the existing park. Public response to the new plan at public meetings and workshops has been enthusiastic.
A Public — Private Funding Partnership
The library design that Rockport’s Select Board has carefully reviewed and approved will cost $3.5 million. $1.5 million will be provided through a bond issue approved by town voters in November 2018. The remaining $2 million will be raised through private donations to build the new library.
Capital Campaign Committee
A group of Rockport volunteers formed a Capital Campaign Committee to secure the private funding, which will complement the town bond funds needed to construct the library.
The good news is that over $1.5 million has been pledged by generous residents and foundations toward the private fundraising goal. But we need your help to complete the campaign by December 2019.
We hope you will study our plans carefully and respond as generously as possible to this vitally important and exciting community-based campaign.
We are happy to answer any of your questions.
Board of Directors
Joan Welsh, President
John Viehman, Vice President
Sarah Rheult, Secretary
Bill Leone, Treasurer
Ann Filley, Peter Ralston Denise Munger, Helen Shaw,
Photo Courtesy of Ralston Gallery