Stephen King and his wife Tabitha have pledged to donate a $3,000,000 matching grant to renovate the Banger Public Library (PBL) in Banger, Maine, so long as the BPL can raise $3,000,000 from other sources, Nick McCrea reported in The Bangor Daily News. The BPL is asking patrons to vote in June in favor of authorizing the sale of $3,000,000 in twenty-year bonds to help cover the cost of making necessary roof repairs, renovations, and install new technology.
The BPL estimates it will cost $3,000,000 to replace the roof alone, and that’s more than the BPL’s annual budget. The copper-and-steel dome is over 100 years old as the original building was erected in 1912, and the roof of the 1950s extension needs to be replaced, as well, as the BPL stated and Fox 22 Weekend Anchor Kristin Hosfelt reported.
Builders submitted competitive bids in March. The lowest bid was for $2,700,000 BPL Director Barbara McDade told McCrea. Trustee John Rohman pointed out it would be much cheaper to replace the copper roof with a metal seam roof, but a copper roof needs to be replaced once a century whereas a metal seam roof would need to be replaced multiple times per century.
The Bangor Room, which houses the local history collection, needs repairs now because the roof has started to sag three inches and is supported with scaffolding the BPL stated and McCrea reported. Leaks threaten collections in other second-floor rooms and in the 1950s extension.
Tarps cover some bookcases. Unfortunately, some water splashed back up from buckets and got on some books under a tarp earlier this year, but Library Director Barbara McDade reported they were able to save those books, as shown in a WABI TV 5 video. Last October, staff members found a veritable river flowing down the marble stairs due to leaks.
Tabitha King, a published authoress in her own right, is a former trustee of the BPL. She was elected to the BPL Board of Trustees, but her term has expired.
Stephen King was born and raised in Maine and spent most of his life there. He has set many novels, novellas, and short stories in the horror, fantasy, science fiction, and mystery-thriller genres wholly or in part in real and fictional towns in Maine.
This June, CBS is airing a miniseries adapted from his science fiction thriller Under the Dome starring Mike Vogel, Rachel Lefevre from the first two Twilight films, Jeff Fahey from Lost, Dean Norris from Breaking Bad, and Natalie Martinez from Detroit 1-8-7 and CSI: NY. The ScyFy series Haven is set in Haven, Maine a fictional town King introduced in his mystery novel The Colorado Kid.
In McCrea’s article on the Kings, he related this would make the third major gift of the Kings. In the mid-1990s when the BPL had an $8,500,000 fundraising campaign, the Kings donated $2,000,000. Director McDade told him they donated the marble steps “six or seven years ago.”
Director McDade explained to McCrea one change to the building’s interior the organization would like to see would be the creation of more space for library patrons to hold meetings. Groups hold an average of 450 meetings a year in the library.
Other changes will be aimed at making users and employees feel safer. Shelves would be lower and easier to reach, lighting would be improved and the layout would be updated to give patrons better lines of sight, McDade said. Those upgrades would cost around $3 million, according to the library.
‘We also want to preserve the finer parts of the building that we like,’ such as the marble staircases, antique woodwork and intricate molding, McDade said.
Between things that are needed and things that are desired – repairs to the physical plant, remodeling the interior, and making upgrades to the infrastructure, the total cost of repairing the roof, renovating the building, and installing new technology is $6,000,000. The BPL also needs to raise money for the endowment and contingency funds.
The total sum the BPL seeks to raise is $9,000,000. This means that the Kings are offering to pay for one-third of the cost and the sale of bonds would cover another third.
The sale of municipal bonds must be approved by voters, which is something we in Illinois are accustomed, but has only been required of the City of Bangor after voters approved an amendment to Article VIII of the Bangor City Charter in November of 2012. McCrea reported that most city councilors approved the measure at a workshop on March 11, 2013.
The BPL will have to raise the final third through a $3,000,000 fundraising campaign. Most of it – $2,500,000 – would go into the BPL’s endowment fund, and the remainder $500,000 would go into the BPL’s contingency fund.
Approximately 39% of the BPL’s operating budget is covered by the endowment fund, while 61% comes from appropriations by the Bangor City Council. Money to acquire books and other materials and to do database work also comes out of the endowment fund.
Stephen King is also helping in this regard. His Zone Radio stations in Maine, including WKIT-100.3, WZLO-103.1, and WZON (The Pulse) AM 620, started a “Copper for Change” campaign.
Residents are encouraged to drop pennies (and larger denomination coins and paper currency) in empty water jugs in area businesses. [McCrea pointed out the pennies the U.S. Mint is minting now are only 2.5% copper.] King permitted Zone Radio to match up to $50,000 raised by residents this way from its operating budget.