Lithgow Library Capital Campaign

Project History

Library Under Construction c. 1895

Library Under Construction c. 1895

Lithgow Library’s original facility opened to the public in 1896.

The City Council purchased the adjacent property (formerly leased by Rite Aid) in 1973 “for the long-term protection of Lithgow Library.”

An addition was constructed in 1979.

During the Capital Action Plan process, discussions centered on Lithgow Library’s role in the community, particularly as a provider of access to new technologies and as a focal point for community programs. The Plan cited an expanded Lithgow Library as a key player in the revitalization of the downtown area.

In 1996, Lithgow Library’s centennial year, Mayor John Bridge and the City Council directed the library staff and trustees to begin planning for an expansion of the facility, utilizing the adjacent land. $20,000 was appropriated over the next 2 years for the purpose of studying needs and planning for an expansion and renovation project. Major factors driving the expansion included space for collections, services for children and teens, access (parking and ADA), growth of technology and space for community meetings and programs.

1979 Addition

1979 Addition

In 1997, Library Building Consultant Nolan Lushington conducted a needs assessment, and produced a document listing the deficiencies of the current facility as well as a preliminary breakdown of space requirements for the future.


In 1998, Library Director Elizabeth Pohl convened a core group of staff, trustees and a public representative to form a building committee. The committee retained consultant Frank O’Hara to assist with conducting focus groups. Groups of business people, parents and teachers, youth and seniors met to discuss the library and the service needs of the community.

Staff and trustees toured most public libraries in Maine that had been expanded within the last few years, including Bangor, Lewiston, Camden, Brunswick, Bath, Freeport and Kennebunk.

In 1999, Barba Architecture and Preservation was hired by the city to produce an historic structure report. It documented the condition of the current facility, recommended needed repairs and discussed systems expandability.

Library Director Elizabeth Pohl was successful in securing $35,000 in New Century Grant funds (from the state) and a $35,000 local match to fund the schematic design phase of the expansion project.
The building committee grew in 2000 to include municipal staff representation and two Council appointees. Their first task involved hiring Jay Lucker, Library Building Consultant, to produce a program document, outlining space requirements for an expanded library.

The city issued an RFQ in November 2000 for architectural services related to a schematic design. 10 firms responded, and the committee selected Tappe Associates of Boston following interviews and reference checks. The City Council approved a contract with the firm in March 2001.

Following an analysis of existing conditions and a review of the building program, Tappe Associates created four conceptual diagrams. These were presented to the building committee, the staff and the trustees for review and comments.

In June 2001, the library hosted 3 forums for public discussion of the conceptual diagrams. A clear consensus emerged, and over the summer and fall Tappe Associates worked to create a site plan, floor plans and elevations.

The final products (renderings, elevations drawings, site plan and project cost estimate of $9.4 million) were presented to the building committee in February 2002 and to the City Council in March 2002.

Rainbow over Lithgow LibraryIn the summer of 2002, The Friends of Lithgow Library, a not for profit corporation, received approval from the Internal Revenue Service for tax status as a Section 501(c)3 organization. In late 2002 the Friends contracted with fundraising consultants Gary Friedmann & Associates to conduct a feasibility study. Following interviews in the community, the consultants concluded in their March 2003 report that a capital campaign for the project could be successful once funding for the new Cony High School is assured.

In 2003, the Friends began building a mailing list and pursued funding for the stained glass window restoration. The Reading Room windows were the first to be removed, as they were in dire condition. By 2005, one third of the needed funds had been raised through grants and direct appeals.

The Trustees attempted to secure needed design funds in the spring of 2005. The City Council allocated $50,000 from the city’s fund balance, to be released upon a recommendation from the Building Committee on how to proceed with the project.

The City Council appointed a new Building Committee in winter of 2006. Their job was to oversee the design process and guide the project through to completion. After an extensive selection process, the committee recommended that J. Stewart Roberts Associates of Somerville, Massachusetts be hired to revise the schematic design and update the estimated project budget.

SmilingIn spring 2007, the Roberts design and its $8.9 million budget were presented to the City Council by the Building Committee. The Trustees, Friends and Building Committee worked with the Council to place a bond question on the November ballot. The bond would have been for $6.9 million, with the Friends pledging to raise the remaining $2 million.

The Friends hired Demont and Associates as counsel to conduct a mini-feasibility study over the summer, with results similar to the previous Friedmann study. After a spirited campaign, the referendum lost by 243 votes.

In winter of 2008, Mayor Roger Katz appointed a “study committee” on the library issue. Chaired by Daniel Wathen, they were charged to examine all options. In late spring, the committee reported back to the Council that the library should be expanded on its current site, and that the needed space was the 30,000 square feet outlined in the Stewart Roberts design.

At the request of library advocates, the Council set up a designated fund for any municipal revenues (from the sale of property, TIF proceeds, etc.) that could be directed to the project.

Throughout 2008 and early 2009, the Friends worked with consultant C. Wayne Mitchell to build their Board, with an eye toward beginning the capital campaign in fall 2009.

In March 2010, the City Council passed an order authorizing the City Manager to submit an application to the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities program for loan and grant funding to renovate and expand Lithgow Library.

Throughout 2008 and early 2009, the Friends worked to build their Board, with an eye toward beginning the library’s capital campaign.

In the fall of 2010, the Board of the Friends of Lithgow Library embarked on a $4 million fundraising effort for the library. Dr. Laurel Coleman, Andrew Silsby, and Roger Pomerleau signed on as the capital campaign co-chairs. The co-chairs for the campaign’s major gift committee are Charles “Wick” Johnson and Gary Peachey.

In September 2011, the Lithgow Library Capital Campaign was officially kicked off with a community celebration at Lithgow. People of all ages came to see authors Jane McCloskey and Angus King, as well as Maine humorist Gary Crocker. Children enjoyed the arts and crafts, games, storytelling, and live entertainment and music. The event was coordinated by Class XXV of the Kennebec Leadership Institute.



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    Lithgow Library

  • Testimonials

    "Now is the time to make the Lithgow Library the vibrant community center that the Augusta area deserves.  Please join us!"

    ~ Andrew Silsby

  • Currently Raised Total: $2.3 Million

  • Our Progress

Lithgow Library Capital Campaign
Lithgow Library Capital Campaign
Now is the time to preserve the heritage of our library while transforming it into a vibrant, modern community center dedicated to the cultural and intellectual enrichment of present and future generations.

© 2019 Lithgow Library Capital Campaign, All Rights Reserved
PO Box 2456 - Augusta, Maine 04338-2456 | Email: | Phone: 207.547.4547

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