Balloons drape the entryway Wednesday to the Waterville Public Library at 73 Elm St., brightening a rainy walkway for library patron Russell Vescky after he returned books to the library in downtown Waterville. The library celebrated its reopening Wednesday after having been closed for 2 1/2 years. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — The Waterville Public Library reopened Wednesday after having been closed for 2 1/2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, renovations and related safety issues and a staffing shortage.

Library Director Tammy Rabideau said library patrons were browsing, sitting, reading and enjoying being back. Younger patrons, meanwhile, were enjoying the children’s room.

“It’s going very well. It’s going so well,” Rabideau said. “It’s steady, it’s busy, people are thrilled.”

The library at 73 Elm St. underwent a $910,000 renovation project over the past two years that included roof repair, outside water management, insulation, window pane replacement, repair of some window sills and replacement of others, floor replacement, painting throughout the building, stabilization of two unsafe egresses and woodwork restoration. The woodwork project was done by Jonathan Slack.

“That was a massive and stunning outcome,” Rabideau said, adding the back parking lot was paved Tuesday.

“It’s been such an epic journey,” she said. “We thank the community for their patience and understanding.”


The library faced challenging staffing issues during the pandemic, and Rabideau said she has made some hires and staff trainings have been held. The library now has eight full-time employees, including Rabideau, and seven part-time workers. Another full-time person and a couple of part-time workers are still needed, according to Rabideau.

Nickerson & O’Day Inc. of Brewer was the general contractor for renovations and, Rabideau said, it was challenging to secure subcontractors, particularly concrete subcontractors.

“I feel very fortunate that we had them as a general contractor, and I’m pleased with the outcome,” she said. “They have been very good to work with.”

During the closure, the library still offered to-go services for lending books and other materials.

For Wednesday’s opening, community member Jennifer Phillips created a massive balloon installation around the outside of the building. Phillips also created a quilt wall hanging inside the building to help with sound abatement, Rabideau said.

The library’s first public event, scheduled for Nov. 8, is a poetry reading by Wes McNair, a former state poet laureate. The library is partnering with Colby College’s special collections on the event.

The library, which first opened in 1905, had a budget this year of $840,769 and is 90% funded by the city and 10% by fundraising. The City Council approved a bond for the renovations.

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