LIBRARY HISTORY (from 2006)
In 1970, two young island men, Wesley Staples II and Edward Wheaton, saw the need for an island library. They secured the use of a one room building on the side of Lindsay Hill as one enters Swan's Island Village. This building was the annex for the United Methodist Women and they graciously shared space with the library for two years.
Volunteers organized some two thousand books and catalogued the collection. Most of the books had been donated by friends of the library. Margaret Kent was hired to be the librarian, keeping the library open one afternoon each week. The Town of Swan's Island paid her $300.00 a year as well as paying some of the overhead expenses. Funds were also raised through donations.
The Swan's Island Educational Society (SIES) was established as a nonprofit organization in 1972. The certificate of organization states: "The purpose of said corporation are literary, scientific and educational, and in the furtherance of said purposes: to establish a free-lending library, a museum and other educational and cultural projects for the benefit of Swan's Island, Maine." Libraries have been a tradition on the island. Small collections were maintained, at various times, in buildings around the island, including the Seaside Hall. It soon became apparent that larger quarters would be needed for the library, so the Society began looking for a permanent home.
In March of 1973, the former "Captain Henry Lee" residence in Atlantic, owned by the Department of Transportation for the use of the ferry captain, was leased by the Society for $1.00 per year. Many island people worked to renovate the building. Funds for the renovations were provided by the D.O.T. and private donations. In 1984 the Maine Department of Transportation conveyed ownership of the "Captain Henry Lee" house to the Town of Swan's Island, retaining the land beneath and around the building. They once again provided funds for much needed repairs.
At the outset, a museum was maintained in the "Lee House" Library by SIES. In 1986, the Bicentennial of the Town of Swan's Island, a separate museum was established at the Seaside Hall in Atlantic. While the town owns the building, the Educational Society manages and maintains it as a museum. The SIES Board of Trustees elects an officer to serve as a director of the museum and library programs. While only open during the summer months, the museum houses an extensive collection of historic photographs, documents, artifacts and other items and ephemera unique to Swan's Island. After establishing the museum in the Seaside Hall, the library expanded its book collections into the rooms that were vacated, although maintaining an antique bedroom exhibit.
The Swan's Island Educational Society inherited the old Atlantic Schoolhouse from Minna Geddes in 1990. For several years following, grants and donations were collected which helped transform the building into a warm and inviting space. The library was moved into the building in 1998 with the help of the Hancock County Department of Corrections who provided people who needed community service hours for OUI offenses. Rain announced the arrival of mud season on the day of the move when boxes and crates of books were moved into the newly remodeled building. An Open House was held on July 11, 1998 in celebration of the beginning of a new chapter in Swan's Island library history.
The renovation of the old Atlantic Schoolhouse was completed during the winter of 2004. Besides the stacks, meeting room, and internet access downstairs, the finishing of the upstairs has provided a large reading room, a computer lab, exhibit space and an Archives and Genealogy room which greatly expands the possibilities of services and programming to our patrons. We are happy to report that as of the Winter of 2005, the Swan's Island Library has completed all of the original plans that could only be dreamt about in 1990.
The library is open about 30 hours each week, year-round. The Director also serves as a part-time librarian and receives a monthly salary. A bookkeeper and a custodian receive a monthly stipend. The remainder of SIES services are provided by a team of dedicated volunteers who work diligently to provide services and programming for the community. The Town of Swan's Island funds $10,000 of our operating costs, leaving the remainder of our operating budget to be funded through various fundraising methods.
The SIES Board of Trustees is made up of seven to twelve members who meet on the second Monday of every month. Our annual meeting is held on the first Monday of February. Policies and budget information are available at the library. All Swan's Island residents can receive a free library card. A yearly, renewable library card can be purchased by nonresidents for a $5.00 fee.
The Swan's Island Educational Society is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to the preservation of the past and the enhancement of the present.