GREENE – Local legislators and Senate President Beth Edmonds, D-Freeport, showed up at the Greene public library Thursday to promote a multimillion-dollar bond package. Legislators will meet in a special session today to decide whether voters should be asked in November to borrow $83 million for a variety of projects.

Among those projects would be $1 million for the New Century Community grants that will go to historic preservation, the arts and libraries in hundreds of communities throughout Maine.

Those communities include Greene, where the little Julia Adams Morse Memorial Library needs some help, said Edmonds, herself a Freeport librarian.

The Greene library is tiny, complained librarian and trustee Patricia Rose. The book stacks are so crowded patrons have a hard time getting a book. “You shouldn’t have full shelves in a library because people can’t get stuff out,” Edmonds said. When a new book is bought, an old book has to go because there’s no room, Rose said.

There used to be room in the 24-by-40-foot library for adults to sit down and read. Now there’s only room for a children’s table. There’s no room for a bathroom or parking lot.

Greene taxpayers have raised $200,000 to allow the library to double in size. If the state bond is passed, Greene could compete for matching funds. With that, the library could build not only a bathroom and more stacks, but an entire second floor. That would not just provide room for the library’s future, but a community meeting room, Rose said.

In addition to Edmonds, other legislators appearing at the press conference to endorse the bond package were Rep. Nancy Smith, D-Monmouth; Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds; and Rep. Scott Lansley, R-Sabattus.

Some were surprised to see Lansley because, in a column he wrote in Thursday’s Sun Journal, Lansley complained that the bond package was not good for Maine. Democrats already spend too much on programs, and Maine’s debt is too high, Lansley said.

When asked if he would support the package, Lansley said Thursday that he hasn’t “decided which way I’m going to vote.” Some items in the bond package – such as borrowing to preserve land – are too much of a luxury for Maine right now. Lansley said he favored borrowing for libraries because “libraries are cultural centers that are vital to our society, vital to Maine, vital to communities.”

Nutting favored the full $83 million bond package, pointing out that Maine’s rate of debt is the lowest in New England. Unlike other states, Maine repays its loans in 10 years, which is faster than other states, he said.

While the politicians talked, 9-year-old Marinna Smith had her nose in a book. In less than a half-hour, “she’s already handled nine books,” Nutting said. “That’s what libraries are for.”


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