Calais Free Library Continues Inner Growth

Almost 130 years in the making, the Calais Free Library now hosts an upstairs bathroom and rear work sink for the ease and comfort of guests and staff. (Photos by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

Visitors and volunteers at the Calais Free Library will find themselves met by several recent improvements intended to enhance comfort and accessibility. With the incorporation of plumbing, the upstairs now features a full bathroom and a work sink, while the den is warmed by a new electric fireplace. The work has been completed by local handyman extraordinaire Butch Hanson, who began the project in October, according to Library Director Joyce Garland.

The new fully enclosed and accessible restroom was built into the entryway of the upstairs turret, which has long been used for storage. The space above the constructed bathroom was left open for extra storage space – a feature that Garland is delighted with – while there is ample room alongside it to access the former storage space in the turret itself.

Additionally, Hanson has installed a sink into the turret room, vastly improving the librarians’ ability to engage their younger guests during activities. “It’s so much easier for doing projects with the kids that are messy,” Garland said, describing how adult supervisors would have to go down to the lower levels to access water to make or clean up slime or no-cook Play-Doh.

Rather than running the pipes in a visible area along the walls, Hanson was able to construct them behind the upstairs bookcases, blending them nearly seamlessly into the existing architecture.

“We’re very happy,” Garland enthused.

The upstairs den has become even more inviting thanks to the donation of a fireplace insert from Johnson’s. The new electric insert keeps the room warm and cozy.

The next project will be to construct mobile wooden bookshelves that will be utilized in the adult literature section to make it easier for cleaning and city crews to work and move within the interior space. “The flow is going to work better,” Garland explained.


The new shelves will initially hold paperbacks, but Garland said they would be designed to hold larger books if a reorganization was necessary in the future. Hanson will be constructing the shelves while custodian Dan Dineen will be painting them. The funds for the project were approved in the fall by the library’s trustees.