The Pittsfield Public Library at 110 Library St., photographed Thursday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel


PITTSFIELD — Opposition by residents to a Town Council proposal to cut the staff and operating hours at the Pittsfield Public Library has led councilors to reverse course and consider increasing the library’s budget.

Pittsfield differs from most communities in that its fiscal year follows the calendar year, so the council is now reviewing expenses for each municipal department, beginning recently with the library.

When library Director Holly Williams first presented her budget to councilors, there were increases that she said more accurately reflected the cost of electricity, heat and other expenses, along with a cost-of-living pay increase for staff members.

The proposed library budget came in at about $217,000, up more than 7.4% from $202,000.

She noted the town’s appropriation for buying new books, audiobooks and other collection materials has not increased since 2002.


Councilors questioned the need for the library to be open 43 hours a week, asked if it could instead operate as a nonprofit and wondered if there could be savings from closing Saturdays.

“It’s not anything to do with you or the way you’re running (the library),” Councilor Jason Hall said at a recent budget hearing. “I think this is probably the lowest budget you can get with the way we operate right now. But maybe we need to tweak the way we operate.”

Library patrons Jessa Dziekan, 4, and her mother, Lylee, walk Thursday through the rotunda of the Pittsfield Public Library at 110 Library St. after checking out books. Jessa checked out picture books and others about Thanksgiving. A mural by Maine humorist Tim Sample stretches across the ceiling of the rotunda. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

About 40 residents attended a council meeting Tuesday and spoke in support of the library. Several said the library at 110 Library St. was one of the reasons they moved to Pittsfield, and the facility is a primary reason the town attracts new residents.

The library was built in the early 1900s, with a $15,000 grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, a $5,000 donation from the estate of Robert Dobson and $10,000 raised by residents. The building was expanded in 2010.

The building, which features a unique central dome, was listed in 1983 on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior of the dome has a mural by Maine humorist Tim Sample titled, “Reading, the Gateway to Imagination.”

In addition to its book, audio and video collection, the library offers a community meeting room, public computers, free Wi-Fi and a variety of programs for residents. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.


Residents said the free Wi-Fi is a valuable resource to those who have unreliable internet. Many residents also said the Saturday hours are important to them because they work during the week and value the opportunity to go to the library Saturday with their families.

“I work a full-time job here in Pittsfield and the (work) hours are the same hours that the library is open, so going on Saturdays — myself and with my son — makes a world of difference,” one resident said.

Circulation Librarian Donna Lambert works Thursday at the Pittsfield Public Library at 110 Library St. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Several councilors said Tuesday the discussion was not meant as criticism of the library. Instead, councilors seek to bring a level of scrutiny to all departments. Councilor Lindsay Holmstrom later said she would like to see a proposal to extend the library hours and increase funding.

“We’ve heard from a lot of folks that maybe there’s opportunities to better align hours” with those of working residents, Holmstrom said.

Councilors have several more weeks of budget reviews for municipal departments, before a public hearing in December and final approval of the budget.

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