HALLOWELL — City residents will have a last chance to guide the direction of the Hubbard Free Library in a forum Saturday.

The forum, which is part of a five-month planning process, will take place at 9 a.m. at the library. Children’s programming will be available during the discussion.

Strategic planning began with a forum in January, where residents suggested a number of ways to spur community contributions. A few highlights from that discussion included using the space to hold concerts, serving coffee, holding dinner party fundraisers and having a dedicated space for selling used books to provide alternate streams of income. A survey, currently available on the library’s website, also seeks to identify why people use the library and what would cause them to use it more.

Ken Young, president of the library’s Board of Directors, said the survey offers different data than the forums.

“The survey is, in some ways, more explicit about why people use the library, and we hope to get more concrete suggestions,” he said.

Young said he hasn’t reviewed the data from the survey because he was waiting for more responses. He said the library board sent postcards to 1,587 Hallowell addresses, and only about 60 have responded to the survey.

Saturday’s forum will be conducted just like January’s, with attendees breaking off into small groups and responding to questions before reporting back to the entire group.

Board of Trustees President Ken Young on Jan. 16 at the Hubbard Free Library in Hallowell. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“We thought we’d try that Saturday morning meeting, when parents aren’t working, so they could come and the children could be entertained,” he said.

Information from the forum and survey will be used to make a recommendation to Hallowell officials in May regarding the best way for the library to operate more efficiently.

“There’s no doubt that everybody wants more (from the library), whether its more books or … more community events,” Young said. “The question is: How does the community respond to those aspirations in a way that the library can be financially stable?”

The private, nonprofit library’s money struggles have been well-documented. This year, the city increased its normal contribution to the library, which is also funded by donations and money made on its endowment, to fund strategic planning efforts. The City Council awarded the library $57,000 when it passed its budget in August: $15,000 for operating costs, its usual $27,000 annual contribution and $15,000 in tax increment financing revenue to fund the strategic plan and other small projects. The budget for the strategic plan is $10,000, most of which will go to consultant Carole Martin.

Built in 1880, Hubbard Free Library is the oldest library building in Maine still serving its original purpose.

 

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666
[email protected]
Twitter: @SamShepME


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