Farmingdale residents once again can sign up for library cards at the Gardiner Public Library.

At Thursday’s Farmingdale Town Meeting, a warrant article that would fund membership in the Gardiner library as part of its regional service for a year earned enough votes to pass.

The policy decision and the $10,305 attached to it were part of the Town Meeting warrant that drew about 60 town residents to the theater at the Hall-Dale High School.

Before the meeting, James Grant Jr., chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said town officials worked hard to keep spending flat in the face of increases in the Regional School Unit 2 assessment and the cost of ambulance service provided by Gardiner Ambulance. The proposed municipal spending plan totaled $1,419,562.

For two years in a row, selectmen have declined to include a warrant article offering the option.

This year, Rachel Choate was among a group of residents who started a petition drive to add the article to the warrant, so that town voters could vote on whether to rejoin the library’s regional service.

They secured enough signatures to make that happen, and Thursday they had enough votes — two-thirds of those present — to pass the article.

“I saw young couples who spoke and indicated they were there because they had children,” Choate said, and they wanted to be able to go to the Gardiner library.

“I wasn’t sure how the vote was going to go,” she said. “A lot of people said they couldn’t be at the meeting for one reason or another.”

Grant didn’t return a call immediately for comment. Selectman Wayne Kilgore deferred comment to Grant, and Selectwoman Nancy Frost could not be reached Friday afternoon.

Anne Davis, director of Gardiner Public Library and interim Gardiner city manager, said via email Friday that before Farmingdale withdrew from the library’s regional service, the library was serving 512 residents there, or about 325 households.

Farmingdale had been a member for a number of years before withdrawing. Several years ago, Gardiner offered a re-introductory rate of about $4,500 a year to get a sense of the interest in the library. But when Gardiner offered a rate closer to what other towns pay, Farmingdale officials declined to continue.

With this vote, however, Gardiner’s gain is a loss for the cash-strapped Hubbard Free Library in Hallowell.

Before the Town Meeting, Grant said if the proposal to join Gardiner Public Library passed, the town would end its practice of reimbursing households for library cards purchased at Hubbard in Hallowell or Lithgow Public Library in Augusta.

For the Hubbard, that represents a lot of about $450.

Board members of the nonprofit Hubbard Free Library are working on a plan to reach financial sustainability. As part of that, they have renewed a request to the Hallowell City Council for additional funding in the next two years to help reach that point.

They made the plea June 11 at the second reading of the proposed Hallowell budget at a City Council meeting. It might come up when the council’s Finance Committee meets at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

“I believe libraries in today’s society need to stay relevant and advertise the way businesses do,” she said. “Just because there’s a line at the Dunkin’ Donuts on the corner every day doesn’t mean they stop advertising. Libraries need to be raising their hands as well if they want support.”

The cost of the library might increase next year, she said. But for the cost Farmingdale pays, it could not have a library.

“I am anxious to see people start to use it,” she said. “I will keep promoting it, because I love the library.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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