A volunteer, with her son and grandson, meets with a friend at Cundy’s Harbor Library.

Brrr … it’s cold out there! As I write the March “Library Connections” column, we are preparing for the arctic blast and the kind of February weather I remember as a kid. When I attended Brunswick High School, the kids in my neighborhood walked to school. We walked in single-digit and below-zero temperatures with mittens and scarves. When we arrived, the scarves were not removed because they had to thaw first or we risked removing our skin along with the scarves! This is a blast from the past, literally! That said, like the other libraries in the area, from Orr’s Island to Brunswick and Bath, we are opening our doors to be a warming center. This is another service rural and small libraries provide for their communities. This brings me to the topic of what it takes to keep a library operating and being responsive to its community year after year.

Cundy’s Harbor Library is truly a gift. A 1981 newspaper article by Lorene Kitchin (the entire article is on the library website) tells the story of how our little library arose from gifts of land and labor.

“Plans immediately were begun to find a suitable site and building,” Kitchin reported. “Soon Richard Hatch agreed to sell, for half price, a small house on his land on the Cundy’s Harbor Road. Robert S. Watson and Marian W. Jordan deeded a parcel of land opposite the old schoolhouse for the site. The building was moved to its present foundation in October, 1959. Volunteer help was employed in constructing the foundation.” Books were moved from the old schoolhouse to Holbrook General Store and the present library.

What does it take to keep Cundy’s Harbor Library open today? The most apparent piece of the puzzle is the people. As you enter the library, which announces it is open with its flag waving, you are greeted by David Perrier. David has been with the library for more than six years. He has a master’s degree in library science and an interest in maps, charts and history. He collects antique books and loves to research information for people. Our librarian is there Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. His major role is to provide materials and assistance to all who enter.

Heather Logan, the library director, works 12 hours a week. Her role is a jack-of-all-trades, from working with the governing board regarding all library matters to writing grants; creating press and marketing materials; and working with other agencies, the Town Office, and the Maine State Library to maintain library standards and programs.

Librarian David Perrier works at his desk at the Cundy’s Harbor Library.

The governing board is headed by President Beth Dufresne and Vice President Joanna Damon. Secretary Susie Strauss and Treasurer Rachel Miller keep the minutes and financial records in top-notch order. Board member Eric Leonard oversees facilities and maintenance, a big role considering our huge renovation.

Our volunteers, under David’s direction and training, keep our books shelved, cover books, and offer skills and help to all who enter. Nancy Hatch is our Scratch Paper Book Club guru. Her extensive knowledge of books has created the foundation for our readers. Nancy Marsteller is our faithful book keeper, reshelving books and checking for books that might be out of place or miscataloged. Marnie Gardner is our retired librarian, whose advice and tireless help keep our collection organized.

Other volunteers have given us carpentry, landscaping, and cleaning and organizing as we renovate. Still others provide snacks for hungry patrons. Kymberlee Piela has brought us an independent children’s reading group for Thursday evenings and occasional Saturdays. Under Eric Leonard’s direction, we employ local residents for weekly cleaning, shoveling, plowing and landscape maintenance. Thanks to Jen, Nick, Eric, and Wetty Plowing for keeping us spruced up and tidy.

The backbone of our organization is those of you who give generously to meet the financial obligations of Cundy’s Harbor Library. Donations pay for the utilities and insurance for the building and property. They buy books, periodicals and office supplies. They cover a portion of the staff salaries, totaling 32 hours. Donations pay the fees for our nonprofit status and annual Maine Department of Transportation sign fee. Because of these donations, the library can offer events such as ice cream socials and author talks. It can partner with fellow nonprofits to present the working waterfront conversation series and publish “Scuttlebutt,” the new brochure about Harpswell’s working waterfront.

Here in the harbor, the library is ready for a new year. David and his team will be getting those books out for everyone, ordering books from around the state via interlibrary loan, assisting people with technology questions during Thursday Tech Time, staffing the warming center, and keeping the lights on for evening events upon request. Heather will continue to work with the State Library, assume the chair for the Small and Rural Library Committee with the Maine Library Association, and implement what the Cundy’s Harbor Library board decides. Our board is there to respond to the community and their questions and input.

Everyone is critical to the library’s success. Where else can you get a public park, a book collection, and a place to gather on the deck or in the reading rooms and keep warm when an arctic blast hits the harbor?

“Library Connections” is a monthly column that rotates among the three libraries that serve Harpswell: Cundy’s Harbor, Orr’s Island and Curtis Memorial. Heather Logan is the director of the Cundy’s Harbor Library.