The History of the Sangerville Public Library

The Town of Two Knights

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The eleven Sangerville women who came together to form a Women's Club on the twenty- seventh of February of 1922 were instrumental in both sowing and nurturing the seeds for what is known today as the Sangerville Public Library.  Their first vote that cold day in February was to organize the women's club to attend a class in government, according to a motion made by Miss Abbie Fowler.  That two-fold idea might have been spurred by the then recent passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution which gave women the right to vote.  They also voted that memorable day to choose a committee to draw up its constitution and by-laws.  The group met next on the 6th of March and passed their proposed constitution and by-laws, elected officers, and voted to buy the club's secretary a book for recording the minutes of their meetings.  The club's first President was Genevieve W. Campbell who was assisted by Vice-Presidents Alice C. Jackson and Josephine Carr.  The club's first secretary was Flossie Lambert and its' treasurer, Vina Marsh.  Shortly afterward, the women formed numerous committees, which by their own account, served to broaden their horizons.  There were committees on literary selections, social concerns, government, civic matters, as well as music and art.

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That summer the Women's Club voted members be required to pay $1.00 in annual dues.  There were light bills to pay as well as costs for refreshments and the printing of the club's calendar.  In fine penmanship, the norm for this period in time, club secretaries recorded the business of the club and their old records speak of many of their good works.  Children in need were presented with Christmas presents, Thanksgiving baskets were delivered to families in need, and a "Town Beautiful Committee" was formed. The Women's Club also saw to it that shut-ins were visited regularly and received flowers.

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It was near the end of their first year in 1922 that the women first discussed the formation of a library during their formal meetings.  On the eighteenth day of December, 1922, club members voted to assist the town's Athletic Association to organize a library commit themselves to cataloguing materials and serving acting as librarians.  The Athletic Association was composed of a group of sports-minded men who, in addition to running bases at local ball games, helped organize the showing of movies to area youngsters as well as participating in other civic-minded events.

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On April 2, 1923, the Sangerville ladies voted to use proceeds of a rummage sale to purchase books for the library and also appointed a "Committee of Inquiry" into library affairs - comprised of Abbie Fowler, Daisy E. Lynch, and Myrtle Brown.  It appears that the first purchase of books for the library was authorized at the club's subsequent meeting on April 16th, when the women voted to procure a set of books of English and American poetry from Mr. Wharff.  They also authorized that $5.25 be taken from the club's treasury for the purchase and then presented the books to the Sangerville Public Library.  By May of 1923, the club had $181.83 in its' treasury from dues and various fund-raising affairs.  It was decided $166.77 of these funds would be used to purchase additional books for the library.  Subsequently, a Purchasing Committee was formed - comprised of Lulu Carr, Jessie Freeman, Vina Marsh, and Addie Hamilton.

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By year's end, the library was gaining popularity with the community and on December 17, 1923 Lulu Carr, who was chairman of the club's book purchasing committee, moved that a library association be formed.  At that same meeting, the women voted to hire Addie Hamilton as librarian.  Her salary was to be $2.00 per week, until such time that the association was formed.  As expected, the association became a reality and became known as the Sangerville Library Association. The Association received an immediate boost from the Sangerville Women's Club when on January 8, 1924, the club voted to donate $70.00 to the fledgling group.  At their next meeting, the club voted to dissolve the Purchasing Committee and to fund the librarian's annual salary of $105.00.  The position was officially given to Addie Hamilton.  Now known as the Sangerville Public Library, it was first housed in Miss Marizetta Dealley's Hat Shop on Main Street, which until recently was home to the Village Restaurant. Miss Dealley was well known for her creative hats and soon books mingled with bonnets.  At year's end in 1924, the library association reported that 5,038 books were taken out to date.  Sangerville's population that year was 1,246.

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The Women's Club of Sangerville was the bulwark of the library for many years.  Although the Sangerville Public Library Association became a separate entity, records show that many of the women who were members of the Women's Club of Sangerville were also members of the Association.  Not only did they hold rummage and food sales to help finance its growth, the women took turns cleaning the library.  On December 14, 1925, the Women's Club voted to pay the librarian for the next six months and to hold a rummage sale from which the proceeds would be set aside to pay the librarian.  Abbie Fowler, who served as Trustee and Secretary of the Sangerville Library Association, also served as President of the Sangerville Women's Club and was one of its' eleven charter members.  In 1924, work was made a bit easier for the librarian when the Association purchased a desk and a chair from the Farrar Furniture Company for $53.25 and some library supplies for $7,00. The library continued to grow.

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A Sangerville resident, Virginia McDonald, recalls opening the door to Miss Dealley's hat shop many times during her teenage years to browse amongst the library's shelves.  An avid reader, she often walked home with three or four library books under her arm at one time.  Moreover, it wasn't a short walk by any stretch of the imagination - consisting of three and one-half miles, mostly uphill, of course.  School buses were non-existent and many times a then youthful Virginia snow-shoed along forested roads.  "It was a shortcut during bad weather." she recalled recently.  "There were eight children and all of us graduated," she said with pride.  She attended the old Sangerville High School, which once stood on the site of the Abbie Fowler Elementary School - now a Fitness Center.

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One decade later, 148 new books were added to the 15,990 volumes that were already on the shelves.  Notably, the history of the library could not be told without mention of Abbie M. Fowler and Alice C. Jackson.  Miss Fowler was an outstanding citizen who was instrumental in placing Low's Bridge in the Registry of National Landmarks.  She was an exceptional school teacher and a wise business woman, as well as a Trustee and Secretary of the Sangerville Library Association and a charter member and President of the Sangerville Women's Club.  Her spirit in helping form The Women's Club and her participation in the library association have served her Sangerville community well.  The library also owes much of its existence to Alice C. Jackson. Also a charter member of the Women's Club and member of the library association, her generous donation of approximately $12,000 to the library in her will is a legacy that continues to honor her memory to this day.

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Much has happened since the Sangerville Women's Club met in 1923.  As one reads the yellowed pages of old ledgers, the reader is struck by how many of the Sangerville women who formed the club also participated as members of the Sangerville Public Library Association.  This community would face an impossible task to place a value on what these women began here many years ago.

Updated library data is entered into a computer database for input into the UMaine Catalogue at Orono.  Several Internet stations are currently available for patron usage.  The library's current Trustees and Librarians Linda Hall and Thelma Dufault invite all to come and visit the library.  Its' doors are open from 2 - 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Friday between the hours of 11 and 4 p.m.

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The Sangerville Public Library would like to thank the author,  Marie Howard.   Content was edited by Gwen Sandau.


Note:  This information is available for educational use.  When printing these pages, please reference the page url.  If you have any questions or concerns, please email the site administrator, Gwen Sandau at gesnow39@aol.com