Fort Fairfield Journal     About Us     Contact Us    Advertising Rates      Subscribe       Distribution       Bible Reference     Our Library


Fort Public Library Celebrates 100th Year of Service to Town


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, October 16, 2013


   The Fort Fairfield Public Library celebrated its 100th anniversary as a Carnegie Library on Monday, September 30.

   Fort Fairfield had a private library as early as 1880.  It became a town-supported library in 1894 with a circulation of 300 books.    In 1911 the town received a grant of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie - one of seventeen in the state of Maine.  This started a process, with support from the town, that culminated in the Fort Fairfield Public Library which was completed and officially opened on September 9, 1913. 

   In 1925 Colonel Franklin Drew, from Lewiston, who regarded Fort Fairfield's public library as one of the best in the State, donated his personal library to it.  Thus, the room where the genealogy records, town reports dating back to the late 1800s, the Fort Fairfield Review, and the Fort Fairfield Journal are kept are named after his father, Jessie Drew.  This room still retains the name, The Drew Room, today.

   In 1994 to 1995 a beautiful addition was added as a community room to be used for the benefit of the inhabitants in Fort Fairfield, local clubs and organizations, and boy and girl scouts. It also features a the children's room, the librarian's office and bathroom, which are all handicap accessible. The community room was used as a temporary town office during the 1994 flood. 

   In 2007, with the urging of the trustees who decided to join the technology world, a decision was made to computerize the library's collection.  14,000 books were entered into computers for the librarian's and library patrons' use.  The old card catalog was kept upstairs just in case for almost a year before moving it down to the basement.  It hasn't been used since then.

  Today, in 2013, there are ten computers on site - eight for the public, one for the librarian and one for the circulation desk.  The library can also download e-books through a website connected to the Maine State library.  The directions are given by the staff to any person who wants to use this technology.  Each library patron is given a coded library card to present when taking out a book.  There is no more signing your name. 

   “This beautiful building has seen a lot of history within its walls,” said Sue LeVasseur, current chair of the library's board of trustees.  “None of this could have been done without the support of town government, all the librarians and their staff from past and present, and the trustees who gave their time to support this building and make sure it's kept its glory for many more generations to come.”

   In addition to town support, the library also receives donations from the local Lions Club and Rotary Club as well as many memorial donations given in memory of loved ones.  The reading room furniture, oriental rug and many other beautiful assets were donated to make the library a comfortable and inviting place to visit.

   “It's been an honor to be a trustee and it's an honor to be part of this celebration today to celebrate with Fort Fairfield this beautiful, stately library,” said Natalie Foster, past trustee member.  “There isn't anything greater, or more important than having books available for children and for ourselves.  The library has adapted to a hundred years of change while it is still embracing the 20th century's charm and dignity.  Thanks to our town, trustees, librarians and employees past and present and  may it continue for at least another one hundred years.”

   A large wooden plaque is now on display at the library naming all of the past librarians and trustees of the library since its inception.  Lori Ireland, from Senator Susan Collins' office presented a flag that was flown over the District of Columbia on September 9, 2013 in commemoration of the library's 100th year anniversary.  “Senator Collins was very pleased to donate and have this flag flown over the capitol in honor of this centennial celebration,” said Ireland.  “Reading is very important to Senator Collins.  She reads at libraries and schools all over the state.  In fact, her very first job ever was working for the Caribou library.”  Robert Bixler constructed the display case for the commemorative U.S. flag which is now on display at the library.

   “I've been the town manager for fifteen years and obviously am responsible for the library and its staff,” said Fort Fairfield town manager, Dan Foster.  “I'm very appreciative of all the work that Sharon has done, and the staff to deal with all the changes they've made over the years.  They just really do a nice job.  In addition to that, we have the trustees.  In the library trustees, we have a group of citizens who are volunteers who spend their time trying to make sure that not only is the facility in great physical repair but that it's relevant to the needs of our citizens today and that's not always an easy thing.” 

   With a recent town wide notice soliciting ideas for ways to help the town deal with the current financial crisis, Foster noted the library was targeted by some citizens for closure but also noted its extremely small overhead compared to its community benefit.   “One of the things that came back from the respondents a fair amount was we don't need a library.  The library represents a very small percentage of the town's overall budget, but what's interesting about the library is that it's the only department of the town that has its own group of volunteers looking out for its best interest.  Not only that, but the Public Library is the only entity that actually has people leave money to it and they do it on a fairly regular basis.  Now obviously there's something important about having a facility and what it represents to the citizens of the community that are willing to volunteer their time and resources to make sure that it exists, to make sure that it is relevant.   Maybe some folks think the library is not that important, I would totally disagree and there are an awful lot of citizens who feel the same way.”

   During the anniversary ceremony, Mr. Foster also introduced the donation of a painting of the library by his family.  “My mother's been an avid reader and a patron of this library for many, many years.  She was a trustee for ten years.  One of our librarians was my dad's aunt, Margarite Foster.  She was a librarian from 1965 thru 1975.  As a very accomplished painter, she painted an oil painting of the library in June, 1966 and gave it to my mother.   It's been hanging over the piano since that time.  They felt that an appropriate place for this painting, because of the history behind it, would be at the library.   They thought the centennial celebration would be a great time to donate that painting that was done so many years ago.  The frame for the picture is a frame that came from the Foster homestead at the turn of the 20th century.”

   In addition to the flag and painting, the  library also received a beautiful Roman Numeral clock from the Starlight Rebecca Lodge.

    The library trustees had been planning their centennial celebration for several months and the library has held special programs to help commemorate the historic event.  “We started thinking about the centennial celebration in the Spring,” said Ken Peters, library trustee member.  “We met many, many times trying to do different activities.  One of the things that we wanted to make sure was that this building was in good shape.  We've done a lot these past four or five months.  One of the things we've done is paint and redo the ceilings in the community room, downstairs.  We've repainted all the white trim outside the building.  We found some deficiencies; all of the sashes on the windows of the lower floor are rotten.  Kerby Doughty was hired to replace all of those sashes.  The new steps out front were put in last fall.”

   From 1937 to 1959 there was no librarian on staff at the library.  During that time period, the chair of the trustees acted as the librarian, but was not named as such. 

   Phil Roberts, past trustee member spoke regarding his experiences with the library.  “I was privileged to serve on the library board for twenty years,” said Roberts, who then jokingly added,  “When I first went on, I didn't realize there was no pay.  But I stuck with it, anyway.” 

   Sue LeVasseur read a note from Art Mraz who was unable to attend the ceremony.  Mraz noted;  “What can you do with three and a half cents of your dollar?  Provide a great variety of books for the people who love to read in the community; provide computer facilities for all those who are unable to have that service at their home; provide books on tape and other services for the visually impaired; provide an area for local groups to meet and the list could go on.  These are some of the services that the staff and board of directors of the library are expected to perform and improve as conditions warrant.  As communities face increasing financial problems, there are increasing pressures to reduce spending.  In these circumstances, libraries are often considered one of the first areas to see these reductions.  The job of the board is a challenging one under these conditions.  It's up to them to determine what activities and direction the library will undertake to best serve the community.  It is not an easy task and the direction taken will vary by the vision of the future the board adopts.”

   Snacks and refreshments were available in the children's room after the presentations were made.  “This will be the last 100th anniversary for the library that you will be invited to,” said LeVasseur to the ceremony's attendees.



Used Books, Movies and More!

Copy  Print  Fax


252 Main Street

Fort Fairfield, Maine

(207) 472-3900

Debt Collector Lawsuit Defense

Educate Yourself with our

Free Sample Court Forms

Northern Maine & Western New Brunswick Scanner Frequency Guide

2013 Edition



- Newly Revised

- Over 50 pages

- Emergency Government  


- All Licensed Business and

  Government Radios in Northern


- Aroostook County Ham Radio

  Call sign Directory!


Available at:


Hillside IGA, Ft. Fd.

Buck’s Market, P.I.

Bradley’s Citgo, P.I.

Stew’s Radio Shack, P.I.

Grave's Shop & Save, P.I.

C.J.'s Service Center, Caribou

Mars Hill IGA, Mars Hill



Fort Fairfield Journal ©2013 David R. Deschesne, All Rights Reserved