In addition to books, the Cundy’s Harbor Library lends out kayak flags and life jackets.

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first edition of “Library Connections,” a monthly column that will rotate among the three libraries serving Harpswell: Cundy’s Harbor, Orr’s Island and Curtis Memorial. The role of a library and the role of a newspaper are not dissimilar. Both serve as sources of information for their communities. Without either, a community has less knowledge, more isolation. The Anchor and Harpswell’s libraries — its partners in information — hope you enjoy “Library Connections.”

What is a library? You don’t have to pay to come in. You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t even have to read, if you don’t want to. You can go just to think, or to be quiet. You can study or work there. You can meet with friends or join a community in a book club or program. It is a “third space” (not your home or work) and is often the first place people go when reaching out. Why? Because a library requires nothing of you but instead responds to you, allowing formal and informal connections to be made.

Harpswell is a town of communities separated by bays and bridges, where the library serves a vital role. But which library? Very few small towns can offer one library, let alone choice. Harpswell has its choice of three libraries: Curtis Memorial, Orr’s Island and Cundy’s Harbor. As we work together, Harpswell residents and visitors have access to a library seven days a week.

Mondays and Wednesdays, the Orr’s Island Library doors are open. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Cundy’s Harbor Library hangs its flag at 10 a.m. On Saturdays, both libraries are open to the public. Curtis Memorial, in Brunswick, welcomes Harpswellians every day and provides access to the entire Maine catalog, bringing requests to card holders, including Harpswell residents. Want a book or something from the library of things? Just go online and request it, or ask one of the Harpswell-based libraries to do it for you. All that’s left is to go check it out.

The Harpswell Anchor has added a library column with the mission of bringing you news about each library, individually or together. This month, Cundy’s Harbor Library is featured.

I came to Cundy’s Harbor Library in 2020, just as we learned about “curbside,” the importance of air quality, and “hot spots.” The library itself was about to undergo major changes, having been awarded a federal grant to update and repair the building and grounds.

Inside, David and I cataloged and reshelved our collection. For the community, the library provided internet access in the parking lot and backyard, as well as via hot spots. We requested textbooks and “required readings” for students who were here from near and far, learning remotely. Having access to academic libraries kept students on track while we served behind closed doors.

Fast forward to now: The library is transformed with a new deck, gutters and landscaping. A transformation in programming also happened, due in large part to an American Library Association grant entitled Libraries Transforming Communities. This grant includes monthly trainings and financial support for community nonprofits to engage in conversations that address 

key issues or challenges. Our conversations have been held in collaboration with five other organizations and titled “Living and Working in a Waterfront Community: A Conversation Series.”

Libraries are more than a collection of books or things, which in our case include life vests and kayak flags. It is our “third space” that transcends buildings, bays and islands. Our libraries are a bridge for all Harpswell residents and visitors. So welcome! Come as you are and let the connections you want or need be made.

Heather Logan is the director of the Cundy’s Harbor Library.