Not too long ago, I read an article in a magazine entitled, Afar, about how visiting a city's public library can give insight into the city's personality and characteristics. The article remains my inspiration for every library that I visit in and outside of my home-town.
Recently, while wandering through Portland, Maine, I decided to also check out the Portland Public Main Library and in this blog post I share the impression it had on me and what I learned about the city while browsing its public library's bookshelves.
Date Visited: 29 March 2019
Portland Public Main Library Website
Sundays | closed
Monday through Thursday | 10 am - 7 pm
Friday | 10 am - 6 pm
Saturday | 10 am - 5 pm
- Parking -
Park on the street, in the Elm Street Parking Garage or Midtown Parking Garage (enter from Monument Square or Free St).
The Portland Public Main Library was built in 1979 and recently has undergone a phase I renovation in 2010. Plans for phase II improvements are underway. The library's face comes in a stark modern contrast with the old-world vibe of the city, almost as a reminder that the vintage charm of downtown Portland is, in fact, in the 21st century.
Upon entering the library you are greeted with a small stair case leading to a sitting area that resembles a large dining cafe. Immediately you sense the feeling of community and multi-purposing, which actually are themes for most buildings in Portland (Portland prides itself in community homes for immigrants which serve also as learning centers for English and basic skill-sets). In addition, the library offers meeting rooms and the Lewis Art Gallery which has increased community usage and donations.
Although I loved the attention taken to renovate the library, I got the feeling that Portland was either betraying its personality or introducing a new dynamic. The modern edge of the library just didn't fit the city to me. I feel as though Portland is struggling with figuring out how to accept the new while still trying to maintain its sense of self.
What public library would you like to see?