While in Maine, we took a boat tour from Northeast Harbor and stopped at Islesford, the town on Little Cranberry Island.
With about 70 year round residents (500 or so in summer), I was amazed and relieved (imagine being housebound by winter storms for a few days without a good book – not surprisingly, they are ranked in the top ten for circulation per resident in ME) to find Islesford Library serving the sometimes tiny population.
A huge part of Neighborhood House, the library has outside seating for those times when the often fog enshrouded island warms up. Since there is wi-fi, the facility doesn’t have to be open for patrons to take advantage of free internet access (and the picnic table is a great place to check your email).
Librarian Cindy Thomas was in the process of weeding books to ease their conversion to an online catalog, but kindly showed me around.
Multihued handpainted lobster floats from a recent contest mix atop shelves with bright arts and crafts from Ethiopia (Cindy’s daughter is a Peace Corps volunteer there) and add color to the more subdued tones of the Islesford Historical Society’s collection…
…which has some interesting realia, including these pictures with cigar box frames made by sailors.
Ship models and mobiles, portraits and nautical themed art fill out the decor. There are several rooms in the place, including this one that has a wireless laptop for the public to use.
Though just about 1/2 mile wide and 3 miles long, the island has all the features of a community. There are roads (people pay a disposal fee to bring their cars by barge on a one way trip to the island), a post office, and a school with about 13 K-8 students.
Library users can borrow CDs, DVD/VHSs, audios and energy meters. And this small village even has a local author – award winning children’s writer Ashley Bryan lives here.
The library also sponsors Movie Night making it the place to go for island entertainment and research. What a delightful and necessary resource for this lovely lobstering hamlet.
We are so lucky in the US – a public library seems to be one essential service we can’t live without no matter how remote or rural the place. Have you run into little libraries in unexpected places? We’d love to hear about them.