BELGRADE — Library patrons will have more elbow room once the library completes its move to its more than-four-times-as-large new location on Dec. 18.

The Belgrade Public Library is crammed in a 400-square-foot space in the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons on Route 27.

About 2,000 of its 7,000 books are stored in a shack. Director Marcia Haigh said library workers have to walk outside to get books and patrons can’t browse the entire collection.

All of this should change at the 1,800-square-foot former house at 124 Depot Road.

“Our patrons are looking forward to seeing those books on the shelves, where they’ll have easy access to them,” Haigh said.

To help with the move, the library is giving purple tote bags to patrons to fill with books that they’ll then return to the new location. Haigh said many volunteers will also box up books and drive them the five miles south to Depot Road.

“I’m so pleased at how this has worked out. People are just embracing the tote bags,” she said.

Haigh said the library has been in the space for 12 years, since the community center opened.

The new building is owned and maintained by the Friends of the Library — a fundraising group — and leased to the town for $1.

Judy Johnson, president of the group, said they raised around $440,000 over five years to pay for the land and building renovations. The group bought the house in 2008 for $140,000.

The renovation included an extension on the back with an electric fireplace. The library will have significantly more shelving and seating and the library’s entire collection will be displayed.

“I think it came out beautifully,” she said.

The new building also has a new circulation desk, a large, wooden piece that was originally built for a library in New York. Johnson said Hammond Lumber Co. donated the desk, which was in a woodworking building the company bought.

The Friends of the Library are planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony over the summer.

“A lot of our donors are summer residents, so they want to be here,” Johnson said. “And the weather’s better.”

The Library Board of Trustees is inviting community members for an open house on opening day, though.

Haigh said she hopes people will embrace the new location, but there are some advantages to the current space, like being neighbors with the recreation department.

She said the library hosts events for summer camps, so she’ll coordinate with the recreation director to ensure the partnership continues.

The library’s operating costs will continue to be funded by the town. Its budget was $41,525 in 2011.

“That public money keeps the library open with equal access to all,” Haigh said.

Anyone can use the library’s resources like the public computers and Wi-fi, but nonresidents must pay a $15 annual fee per family to borrow books, DVDs, audio books and e-books, she said.

Haigh said the library has more than 1,800 cardholders, and more than 10,000 items were checked out last year.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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