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The Curtis Library Issue
Burr's Comments

Follow is a draft of a letter I am writing about our relationship with the library.

See more complete version that appeared in the Times-Record 2/25/05

I strongly favor full funding for Curtis Memorial Library.

It is incomprehensible that a town the size and character of Harpswell would not have a full service library. In addition to its many books, videos, magazines, journals, research facilities, it offers many other services such as lecture series, book discussion groups, reference assistance, web assistance, friendly faces, meeting rooms and more.

The amount of funding they have requested seems fair to me. It represents less than 1% of the Harpswell budget (while Brunswick pays well over 2% of their much larger budget). Harpswell had more than 17% of the actual use of the Library, but last year we only paid 8.7% of the municipal funding. That represents less than half of what one could call our “share.” This year the library has increased their request to 9.5% of municipal funding or $95,918.

I agree that $95,918 is a large increase from the 8.7 % or $85,260 of last year, I also remember that the Library reduced its request last year because our Budget Committee’s asked it for a reduction. When our share reaches 10%, the large increases will stop. This year the Library budget as a whole is only projected to increase 3%, quite a reasonable amount. Therefore in the future

When compared with other libraries in Maine, Curtis is a bargain. Out of 67 towns with populations of 5000 or more, Harpswell is first in library items per capita, third in hours open per capita, but 44th in expenditure per capita. We have some excellent local libraries in Orr’s Island and Cundy’s Harbor, but no public library on Harpswell Neck. These libraries are excellent for what they provide in popular fiction, children’s books and video’s, but they do not have the depth of service available at Curtis. Also, they are not cheap. Cundy’s Harbor with about 4000 library items requested $11,000 or $2.75 per item, while Curtis with about 100,000 items requested only $95,918 or about $.96 per item. Furthermore, if Harpswell does not fund Curtis, our local libraries may lose some of their services or charge more for them.

I am probably one of those shorefront property owners who Selectman Weil was trying to protect from an excessive tax increase. However, I do not feel protected, I feel deprived.

Harpswell prides itself on providing minimal services. When I looked through the town report, I noticed that we appropriated $117,275 for Shellfish Conversation. I am happy to pay my share of that sum to support our clammers, but I feel the library should also be supported. I feel as a taxpayer the services Harpswell provides for me should include police, fire, roads, recycling center, shellfish protection and a library

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Last edited on 01/07/2010