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New Portland Community Library

New Portland Community Library
New Portland Community Library

In 1988 a group of New Portland citizens met to discuss the establishment of a new entity for the community, the Rural Living Center.  This would serve as a parent organization for a series of useful enterprises for the town. The group decided these activities would include a day care, a town library, and a farming or craft co-op.  The latter never got off the ground and the day care was active for several years before it was discontinued.  Only the library continues and thrives to this day. 
The RLC negotiated with the Fernwood Grange and the library and day care center were housed in their building in North New Portland.  The Grange was very helpful and agreed to allow the RLC to remodel part of their building for a library and only charged $1 a year rental.  Work was begun the summer of 1988 with help from summer work groups from the Mission at the Eastward.  Various community members finished and painted the interior and donated carpeting and other materials.
Meanwhile a library committee was established and they contacted several libraries in the area and the Maine State Library for advice about the organization and structures needed to establish and furnish a library. The member of this initial committee or the founders of our library were:

Ivy Anderson                                       
Pat Newell
Lena Atwood–Librarian                     
Eleanor Taylor
Barbara Bruno                                     
Thelma Taylor
Rosemary Drosky                                
Dorothy Whitten
Carolyn Dyer                                       
Gardiner Young-Treasurer
Joan Moes–Vice President                
Nona Young–President

A Friends of the Library Committee was established, headed by Barbara Bruno, and membership recruiting was actively begun.

Books were being collected from a multitude of volunteer sources, including a trip by Nona and Joan in her truck to pick up a load of free books from the Maine State Library in Augusta.  These were accessed by Lena Atwood, working in her garage and assisted by Marilyn Gorman, who became the associate librarian. By the end of 1989 there were almost 1000 books cataloged and placed on the new shelves.

New Library Floor Plan
New Library Floor Plan

From these humble beginnings the library has prospered and grown.  While still in the Grange building we had several interns from Carrabec High School, developed programs with teachers at Central School, and held several successful summer reading programs for children.

Our active FOL was responsible for many fund raising activities, including talent shows, musicales at the Herbert Hotel and Winter’s Inn in Kingfield, and activities at the New Portland Fair.  The annual Book, Plant and Bake sale, Ice Cream Social, and Yard Sale are still going strong.

In 1999 the library received a grant from the Noyes Foundation and was able to buy the Grange building.  Our first plans were to renovate the building to house the library, and in 2003 we received grants from the Rural Development and a Community Development Block grant for that purpose.  However that proved to be too costly an endeavor, particularly as the two story building would have required an elevator.

Ribbon Cutting at New Library
Ribbon Cutting at New LibraryNona and Gardiner Young - 2 of the library's founding members

We then proceeded to plan B which was to build a new structure.  In 2004 a site was agreed upon by the New Portland Selectmen and the library was built on town property by the town office.  Ground was broken in June, 2005 and on April 8, 2006 the New Portland Community Library was officially opened.  This could not have happened without the support of the community and the town, particularly several donors who generously gave the money to complete the project.  We also received grants from Poland Springs, and the Stephen and Tabatha King Foundation who provided furnishings for the

Children's area at the new library
Children's area at the new library
New Library Images
New Library Images

Today the New Portland Community Library is a vibrant part of the community.  Our librarians have installed a library website and a wireless broadband internet connection.  We have three computer terminals available to the public. We not only have books but we also have movies, CDs, and magazines.  Our FOL organizes special events for the people of New Portland to enjoy.

Lena Atwood – 1988-1993
Marilyn Gorman – 1993-1997
Judy Louiselle, Assistant Librarian – 1998-2000
Jan Kooistra – 1998-2005
Transition Team* – 2005- 2006
Dotty Carter – 2006- 2007
Alison Thayer & Jill Lattin – 2007-2008
Jill Lattin – 2008-2012
Shelby Newell - 2012-2015
Sheila Atwood - 2015 - present

*Dotty Carter, Carol Short, Lolly Phoenix, Paula Young, and Karen Handelsman from the Solon Library as a consultant.