Picnic tables behind the Cundy’s Harbor Library provide a place to read or enjoy the view. (Heather Logan photo)

September at Cundy’s Harbor Library. As we enter autumn, I am looking back on all we have accomplished since our last annual meeting. The library hosts its annual meeting each October.

The library has been updated and repaired from top to bottom. Inside, the rooms have been reorganized. There is a Maine room with all your Maine authors and topics, as well as a large monitor to play video. Front and center is where you will find David keeping our collection cataloged and helping all who enter. Our Nancys (two) keep our fiction books shelved and alphabetized. In the back, overlooking the harbor, is our nonfiction collection and an adult gathering room. The children’s area is now located downstairs.

The grounds have been kept by a local student and a board member, Eric Leonard. I can’t forget to thank Julie Polak, whose expertise with planting plans has been invaluable. She also helps with weeding and pruning.

In the backyard public park, there are three picnic tables that extend our library space. As autumn arrives, the last step of our renovation will be the chimney’s repair, made possible by two foundation grants we recently received.

Yet, what is a library? Or, more importantly, what is your library’s place in your community? I have been mulling these questions recently. This past month I was elected to the Maine Library Association’s Executive Board to represent Maine’s more than 800 small and rural libraries. In doing so, I am hoping to better understand all our library can offer and how it can best serve our community.

So, what is the Cundy’s Harbor Library’s place in your community? I am hoping people will share both what we are to you now and what you want us to provide in the next two or three years. Until I receive your input, I will share what the staff in the library sees as our place and our definitions of “library.”

Cundy’s Harbor Library has set up a story walk on the north loop trail at Little Ponds Preserve. (Heather Logan photo)

In my first “Library Connections” column, I wrote the following: “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.”

Both David and I have worked hard this year to better meet this definition. David has extended his professional learning from his master’s degree in library science to a certification in geographic information systems. He archives old maps and materials, some of which he has framed to share at his monthly roundtable on Casco Bay history.

Thanks to his background and keen interest in history and cartography, we can locate historical materials about Casco Bay and New England, as well as the world. He also collects rare books and other writings, so come visit and see the steamboat routes, learn about border conflicts in the 1700s and 1800s, or find out who lived where in the harbor or around Harpswell.

As director, my role is to support the librarian and the library itself. I find that both my formal education and my life experiences as president of an education association and member of organizations such as Junior League, National Charity League, and, locally, the beloved Sebascodegan Garden Club and Mingo Club, have prepared me well for the library’s needs.

Currently I work 12 or more hours a week writing materials, assisting with daily operations as needed, hosting the monthly book club, and ordering book club selections through the Maine State Library System for both the Cundy’s and Orr’s Island libraries. I answer mail from our patrons. I attend professional meetings via Zoom to keep David and I aligned with best practices.

But the most important job for both of us is to respond to our community. When you walk into our library, attend events such as working waterfront conversations, or walk the story walk at Little Ponds’ north loop, we hope you see the evidence. Our book selections and services have benefited from your input.

“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.