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Out & About with Rachel Morin: Open House celebrates Auburn library, Auburn history

The attractive local history room, recently redone, is well lit, has comfortable seating and blue-toned rugs complement the freshly painted cream-colored walls. Not shown are the several bookcases holding the historical material assembled in one location.

Text and photos

by Rachel Morin

The Auburn Public Library held an Open House on April 5 to celebrate Auburn’s history and to give the public an opportunity to see the splendid new look on the second floor.

The staff, led by Suzanne Sullivan, assistant director, has consolidated shelving, making aisles wider and placing popular books in Subject Nooks, making books on specific topics much easier to find.

The Nooks include the following categories, to mention only a few: Health and Wellness, Business and Work, College and Career, Home and Garden, Travel and Language, Cooking, Photography, Arts and Artists. Attractive seating invites patrons to linger and browse through the books.

The new look is most obvious in the local history room. The room has an attractive, warm and inviting ambiance with new rugs in blue tones complementing the freshly painted cream-colored walls. Windows on three outside walls let in lots of natural light. Bookcases have been rearranged with all historical material brought to this location.

The Three Point Jazz Duo played during the Open House while visitors enjoyed light refreshments and took advantage of viewing old historical photographs of Auburn set up in the newly created historical database.

John Kelley, Head of Lending Services, has contributed many of the photos from his large collection of early postcards of Auburn. The public is invited to bring old Auburn photographs in for scanning to be viewed by local history buffs.

The APL website reminds us of the architectural treasure that is the Auburn Public Library. In my photography class assignment, years ago at USM Senior College, Portland, we were told to select a building and photograph it from many angles and focus on its architectural features.

I knew right away that APL would be my building, having long admired it. I took dozens of photos of the Auburn Public Library, and my classmates in Portland marveled at the beauty of our library in Auburn.

The website continues with the APL history of the library opening in 1904, thanks to a $25,000 gift to the city from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. As the library’s popularity and collections grew, the building was continually reorganized.

The library grew crowded over the passing years and additional space was desperately needed. In the fall of 1999, after years of discussion and strategizing, the library’s Board of Trustees began planning a major capital campaign to raise funds to expand the facility while preserving the integrity and style of the original Carnegie-funded building.

The Campaign Advisory Board included influential community figures such as former state legislator Barbara Trafton and Honorary Chairperson Senator Olympia Snowe. A professional fundraising counsel informed them that they could expect to raise $1.5 million. They surpassed expectations and raised over $3.5 million!

The City of Auburn approved a bond issue for an additional $3.5 million, and the newly expanded building opened its doors in June of 2006. Today the library is a hub of activity with every area of the enlarged and renovated building offering resources and services to the people of Auburn and beyond.  For more informatio on the library, access its website at www.auburnpubliclibrary.org.

 

 

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