Library 50 Years Old

The Rev. George Bovill and Kathleen Andrews were among the eight original organizers of the library 50 years ago.

Residents crowded into the Brooksville Free Public Library Sunday, May 19, for a double celebration.

It was the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the library and the 10th anniversary of its location in the Public Service Building.

A plaque recognizing those who organized the library 50 years ago was displayed during the celebration.

Less attention was given to the plaque, however, than to two honored guests whose names appear on the plaque.

Brooksville resident Kathleen Andrews and the Rev. George Bovill, who now lives in Portland, provided first-hand accounts of the library’s birth in 1952.

They are the surviving members of the library’s original organizers. Others who made the library a reality include Elmir Littlefield, the Rev. Maurice Venno, Aletha Swensen, Minerva Cutler, Grace Lymburner and Grace Limeburner.

In 1952, a special town meeting vote authorized use of the Town House for a library. Some 3,000 books were donated by residents and volunteers built bookshelves.

The library first opened its doors in February 1953, and Andrews was librarian for the first year. She recalled a visit from the state librarian when the Brooksville Library first opened.

“She came in and said, `Get rid of all the Hardy Boys books,’ Andrews said. “Well, that’s what everybody was reading.”

In 1952, PTA members had decided the town needed a library. The closest at the time was in Blue Hill. Parents thought the town should have a library available for its children.

“The school library consisted of 10 books, not one of which was worth the shelf space it was taking,” Rev. Bovill said. “That prompted me to go to the PTA and ask for $25. They got their money’s worth.”

Bovill was studying at the Bangor Theologian Seminary at the time, and often brought bundles of discarded books from the Bangor Library.

By the end of the first year, the library had accumulated some 4,000 books.

Jim Littlefield was 8  when his father, Elmir Littlefield, served on the organizing committee. He recalled his father’s approach to acquiring books.

As an innkeeper, he was in contact with many people who had books they wanted to give away.

The elder Littlefield eagerly agreed to help them out, and his son remembers riding back to Brooksville with carloads of books from New Jersey. He also recalled his own hesitant contribution.

“I got up one morning to read one of my favorite children’s books, and it was gone,” he said. “It was gone to the library. I considered it my book, and the library considered it its book.”

The library first opened in cramped space in the former Town House.

Today, it occupies a spacious room, connected to a separate conference room and flanked by a spacious open porch, which is adorned with local sculpture.

On Sunday, the conference room was dedicated to the late M. Evans Munroe for his effort in establishing the new Public Service Building.

 —James Straub