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November 5, 2020

Maine State Library finds temporary home in Winthrop

A room with couches and large book cases and a large map of Maine with sun coming in from a window above Photo / Maureen Milliken The Maine State Library, seen here last year, has found temporary quarters down the street at 242 State St., in Augusta, as well as warehouse space in Winthrop while the Maine State Cultural Building in Augusta undergoes an overhaul that includes new heating and electrical systems and abestos removal.

The Maine State Library, which closed its Augusta site to the public in July for extensive renovations to fix health and safety dangers, has found a temporary home for much of its collections in Winthrop.

The library has leased 13,000 square feet of warehous space at 1705 U.S. Route 202, the former Carleton Mills building, which is also home to a state Department of Health and Human Services office and Tex Tech Industries. The 130,000-square-foot building is owned by DeJour Realty LLC. Chris Paszyc of the Boulos Co. represented the state in the lease transaction.

The public-facing part of the library will move to 242 State St., down the street from the current building. The move is expected to take place in mid-January. Since it closed public access, the library has been offering curbside service from its location at the Maine State Cultural Building, and was planning to gradually open once the library found other space.

The Maine State Cultural Building, at 230 State St. in Augusta, next to the Statehouse, contains the library, state archives and museum. The building was closed in July, indefinitely, because it needs significant upgrades to mechanical systems and asbestos removal. State officials have said the work could take up to two years.

The 53-year-old building has significant asbestos problems, as well as an aging mechanical infrastructure, and was described as one of the state government's "most troubled" facilities by an official in January.

The Bureau of General Services, which is overseeing the work, hired Portland architectural and engineering firm Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions to design new mechanical systems, as well as oversee asbestos abatement. 

The Legislature two years ago approved $15 million in funding through the Maine Governmental Facilities Authority program to do the extensive upgrades in the library, including new heating, cooling and electrical systems and asbestos work for the entire building. The asbestos was also brought up to the Legislature earlier this year, with L.D. 1969, which calls for doing an inventory of the state government's buildings with an eye toward public and employee health.

The library, established by the Legislature in 1836, not only lends books and materials, but also provides resources for libraries across the state. Its services are available to all Maine residents and visitors, who have access to its entire holdings and services.

Kyle Hadyniak, spokesperson for DACFS, said in July the state is committed to making sure the library and archives relocation is done with a minimal amount of disruption.

"We will support each agency’s ability to find ways to continue serving the public,” he said. “These agencies’ service to Maine citizens is invaluable, and we’re going to find creative ways to make sure we can help each agency sustain its important work.”

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