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More in News
West Paris library builds walkway
MEDIEVAL — The original, castle-like Arthur L. Mann Library in West Paris was built in 1926. In 2009 an addition was added onto the old structure to provide more space for the growing number of patrons and books, and to offer a space for meetings and other activities.
NEW WALKWAY — A wooden walkway was recently constructed at the library in West Paris that is more safe and accessible to the municipal parking lot behind the library. Before, patrons were walking up a small pathway that was dangerous, especially in the winter, according to library trustees.
WEST PARIS — A number of changes have occurred at the West Paris Public Library and, as a result, the library has been able to evolve, says librarian Patricia Makley.
In 2009, an 1,800-square-foot addition was added onto the rear of the existing 20th century structure not only giving the library more space, but making it more functional, she says.
"It's really beyond our wildest dreams."
There has been a "phenomenal increase" in patrons using the library since the renovations, she adds. "People have been taking out library cards and using it every day that it's open."
"We've really tried to make the library a central place in town," says library trustee Bruce Downing.
The library, located on Main Street, is also known as the Arthur L. Mann Memorial Library.
The original, 900-square foot castle-like building was made of broken field stone gathered from fields in West Paris, according to the library's website.
The main entrance displays the original oak door with hand-crafted iron hinges and above it is a large granite block inscribed "Arthur L. Mann Memorial Library."
In February 2010, says Makley, the library held a grand-opening for the addition and recently constructed a wooden walkway leading to the municipal parking lot behind the library.
"We've kind of been limping along with a path up the hill, trying to decide what would be the best way to access the parking lot," Makley explains.
According to Makley, the walkway has been a real success. "It's sort of a playful structure," she says.
The library was built in 1926 by Lewis M. Mann. On September 4 that same year, it was officially presented to the town and the West Paris Library Association.
According to Makley, when the addition and walkway were added, the library's unique castle-like design, created by Gibbs & Pulsifer of Lewiston, was kept intact and the interior refurbished.
"We didn't want it to overshadow our beautiful, old building," she says.
With the library continually growing, it moved to multiple locations in the 1900s, including the post office, the hardware store, C. Howard Lane's store, Israel F. Emmons' store, the home of Erastus K. Cummings and Samuel T. White's store, where it stayed for 12 years, according to the website.
The library eventually grew too large to be kept in the store, so books were kept in a room in an apartment rented by Hiram W. Dunham until 1926.
In 2005, the current building, located on a plot of land left behind by Lewis M. Mann, once again began to grow too small for its collection of books, says Makley.
New and improved
The large addition, made possible through grants, fundraising and other means, has given the library a conference room where people can use their laptops, display space for art, room for tutoring and additional space for books, she explains.
"We've been able to get our non-fiction collection out of the cellar; there's no longer any reason for the public to go down the steep, narrow stairs," she says. "Everything is on one floor and beautifully displayed."
The library also now has room for three desktop computers and a children's area, which, according to Makley, "was scrunched in the original building." There is now two craft tables for children and a sink area for washing up, she says.
There is even a "beautiful glassed-in corner window seat which is really popular with everybody."
With more space comes more opportunities, like holding art shows, says Makley. Since the opening of the addition, she said the library has held seven exhibitions that have been popular with the community.
The new – handicapped accessible – wooden walkway has also been a hit with library attendees, confirms Downing.
Before, he explains, it was just a small pathway "that was quite hazardous at times in the winter." Now, he says, it is much safer and allows residents who park in the municipal lot to access the library and other Main Street businesses more easily.
Plus, "the new building is looking its best," says Makley, noting the building was beautiful to begin with. One of the library's goals was for patrons to walk through the library's medieval door and into a 21st century library, she explains.