Saturday, July 23, 2016

415. Jesup Memorial Library, Bar Harbor, Maine

The first thing I saw here, and I like it a lot, is the sign you see above: "Anchor to the Past, Chart to the Future. Dedicated August 30, 1911. This strikes me as a great watchword, and it's always wonderful to find libraries that have been serving their communities for more than 100 years--and are still going strong.

The building, which is near the center of town, is an unassuming brick structure with some very attractive details. Here's a first in my library visits: dogs are welcome! I asked about cats, but staff pointed out that the front door is open (no air conditioning) so a library cat would be liable to wander off. I believe they have treats for the dogs that come in.

This picture doesn't do justice to the bright, attractive children's area to the right of the door. The picture below does a better job. There were no children present (I visited around suppertime), but clearly the library is ready for them.

The big surprise was straight ahead, where a two-level classic reading room with stacks took me back to libraries I haven't seen in a long time. The right side mirrors the left that you see here. If you look closely at the lower right, you'll see chairs set up for an evening program. I had the impression that programs are almost a daily feature here. I had a fine time talking to staff. If you are up this way, I recommend the fund-raising calendar, which is marked down to $4.00 because the year is more than half gone. The pictures of local people reading are terrific, even if there are only a few months left.

I do still see libraries where the card catalog is in use; Nashua, Iowa and Buckshill, Maine, come to mind. But here in Bar Harbor, the card catalog is the coffee center. The drawers with labels hold the coffee, creamer, sugar, and so forth. I think the unlabeled ones are empty, but I didn't check. It would be fun for a mischievous patron to add surprises...  I never even thought that.

Next door is the library's used bookstore, Secondhand Prose. They are open daily, 11 to 5. I was too late to visit, but what an idea! Many libraries have a shelf of books for sale, maybe a room, at least a book cart. This is the first library where I've seen an entire store!


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