North Bridgton Library to close

PICTURESQUE AND HISTORIC – The North Bridgton Library was built in 1916.

PICTURESQUE AND HISTORIC – The North Bridgton Library was built in 1916.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

After years of trying to hold on, the North Bridgton Library is closing for good after 98 years.

Trustees of the North Bridgton Library Association voted June 30 to cease operations on Dec. 29.

“It was awful,” said Don Amaya, one of seven board members, when the vote was finally taken. “A lot of people have put a lot of effort” into keeping the library operating, he said, including board members and Librarian Heather Silvia.

But for the past two years, closing the library has been a topic, due to a steady decline in patrons and funding. The board has kept monthly statistics of the people who come in, and by and large, he said, it’s mostly the same group of faithful patrons, week after week.

“All public libraries are struggling” to meet the needs of readers who are increasingly turning to WiFi and e-readers and away from books, said Amaya. Most small neighborhood libraries like North Bridgton’s just don’t have the money for computers and e-readers.

“It’s as much a part of declining interest as it is funding,” he said. The demographics in North Bridgton, once a mini-town center, have changed over the years, and Amaya said Bridgton Academy and the North Bridgton Fire Station are “the only thing that’s left of our little village.” North Bridgton also has a post office.

The board voted to return the $7,000 the town of Bridgton gave the library this year, and are now planning how to go about selling off the library’s books and other assets. The good news is that the library will continue operating as usual, Amaya said, with the same programming and hours, until the closing date.

“We have enough money in our reserves to keep us until the end,” Amaya said.

As for the historic 30’x36’ building, built in 1916, the board has not yet decided what will happen. “We have the right to sell it,” said Amaya. The building is adjacent to Bridgton Academy.

The library is open 11 hours a week, from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

The library’s origins date back to the formation of the North Bridgton Library Association in 1875.

 

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