Millinocket Memorial Library

Millinocket, ME

Describe the need that you’re trying to address.

Millinocket is a rural town in central Maine that was left shocked by the closure of its paper mill after more than a century of prosperity in the paper industry. This mill closure decimated the region's economy and created unprecedented concentrations of unemployment and poverty. The migration of residents out of Millinocket to other communities with better job opportunities has resulted in a fractured and disproportionately aging community.

However, the region’s access to unique wilderness areas presents an economic opportunity for increased recreation and tourism in the region. Millinocket is adjacent to Baxter State Park, Mount Katahdin, Moosehead Lake, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and is the closest town to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Local groups have created public spaces and hosted numerous community events to regain regional pride and kick-start a stalled economy. Grassroots efforts have led to two public parks, a walking path, a public gazebo, a community garden, a winter marathon, and several seasonal festivals.

Millinocket Memorial Library is uniquely positioned to provide internet access in a variety of public spaces for a community working hard to reconnect, rebuild, and reclaim its relevance in a fast-changing knowledge-economy.

What would be a successful outcome for your project?

Millinocket Memorial Library was shut down in 2015, along with many other public services, because the town was no longer able to financially support its operations. Over the past 18 months, the Friends of Millinocket Memorial Library raised over $100,000 and formed a new corporation to take over the operations of the library. This new iteration of the Millinocket Memorial Library has been in operation successfully for over 18 months and is poised to support the revitalization of this isolated rural community. To deliver wifi-hotspots throughout the town would further solidify the library’s significant impact on this revitalization. This proposal includes the permanent installation of wifi hotspots in three high-traffic public areas in town.

Desired Outcomes:

1. Increased collaboration between community partners within the region, including students, educators, healthcare providers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, community activists, and outside investors through the proliferation of open, accessible, public spaces equipped with innovative communications technology.

2. Millinocket Memorial Library enhances access for underserved individuals to healthcare information, employment opportunities, business resources, and other social services.

3. The library positions itself as a prominent leader in community through its ubiquitous value-adding presence.

At Kermit Crandall Park increased broadband access will support Farmer's Market vendors and customers, gardeners, walker, kayakers and canoers. We will also set up a story booth that utilizes the internet to invite people to interview a partner as part of our "Katahdin Story Booth Project".

The Katahdin Pride Park community pool is a popular regional draw for young and old residents alike. The library will have an increased outreach presence at the school during the summer to reach families, children, and seniors in the region.

In addition to town residents, Veteran’s Memorial Park serves seasonal populations, including visitors to the Millinocket Marathon, Trails End Festival, and Winterfest. Also, this is a popular pedestrian intersection for locals, tourists, and Appalachian Trail through-hikers. The park also serves downtown pedestrians, local shoppers, residents seeking municipal services, tourists visiting the area, art gallery, coffee shop, and gift shop customers.

Those that would benefit from increased broadband access include seniors, of which there are 4,790 within a 30-mile radius of town. Because this region is so geographically isolated, the surrounding areas depend on the services available in Millinocket. Increased broadband access in Millinocket would potentially draw in populations from regions far beyond the town.

Please list your team members or partners and their roles

Matt DeLaney is the project lead for this grant. Matt became director of MML in January 2017. Previously, Matt served as Director of two libraries in New York, and most recently served as Administrative Director of OCPL, where he oversaw budget and personnel functions.

Thrive Penobscot is a consortium of 23 partners addressing community issues in the region, including transportation, food insecurity, and social isolation. Its mission is to support “[resident’s] ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, comfortably, and with dignity, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

The Town of Millinocket is a key partner and is important part of economic revitalization efforts in the region. The areas where new broadband access will be offered are public parks under jurisdiction of the Town.

Our Katahdin is a volunteer driven nonprofit organization working to promote community and economic development in the region. Their efforts to increase broadband in town will be vital to overall broadband access in the region.

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