Annual Letter

Winter, 2016

Dear friends and members of the Monhegan Library,

Thanks to your generosity, the Monhegan Library has thrived in 2016. Here we are once again with news of the year and our annual request for your financial support.

With your help, we are almost finished with digitizing our entire collection, are continuing to pay our librarians’ salaries and are continuing to maintain the building in excellent condition. In July alone, 1087 folks visited the library. Year around, AA meets at the library and each Sunday morning in the summer, Quaker meeting is held here.  MISCA regularly has meetings in the library, using Zoom software on library computers for conference calls. The library served as the polling place for the 2016 presidential election, as it does for each and every election.

Yet, at the heart of all this, is the love of books despite the fact that attitudes about reading have changed over time. At the time of the founding of the first public library by Benjamin Franklin in 1732, reading novels was frowned upon as potentially harmful to the delicate, suggestible nature of women.  Reading novels was “an inordinate passion…which constituted a great obstacle to good education, “ claimed Thomas Jefferson. Not surprisingly, only one novel was published in this country between 1700 and 1779.

In the beginning of the 19th century, the demand for novels quickly grew and by 1848, Edwin Hubbell Chapin wrote that the mass of novels “has leaped from the press like the frogs of Egypt…with the froth of superficial thinking (and) the scum of diseased sentiment.” Yet, both women and men kept reading novels for novels did not simply provide pleasurable respite, but were a source of compelling ideas about how our lives are affected by hypocrisy, personality, sexual desire, economics, social class, religion and political reform.

Of the 214 books purchased this past year for the Monhegan Library, the single largest category is fiction. Reading fiction and non-fiction and using public libraries is an essential aspect of being a citizen in our democracy. E.L. Doctorow wrote that “The three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport and a library card.”

This past summer, for the first time, the library hosted a visiting writer, poet Richard Blanco.  In 2013, Blanco was chosen to write and read a poem for President Obama’s second inauguration. While on Monhegan, Blanco met with 2o local writers in the morning at the library and at night read his poems and spoke about his life and work to a packed house at the church. Blanco’s visit was supported by a grant from the Stephen King Foundation. This is the first in a new tradition of bringing noted writers to the island.  We are already planning next summer’s event.

All this is made possible by your donation each year. It is you who keep the programs expanding and you who make possible the ongoing enrichment of the collection of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, science and nature, art, mystery, science fiction, biography, young adult fiction and children’s picture books. Although Monhegan Library is for public use, we receive almost no public funds. It is the liberal and generous giving of the Monhegan community that keeps the doors open.

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “The America I love exists at the front desk of our public libraries.” On behalf of the Library Board, in the coming year may you find comfort, wisdom and pleasure in the company of books.

Dave Clapp Candis Cousins Kerns

President, Library Board Board member

Please send donations to:

Don Abbott

300 South Main St.

Andover, Mass 01810

Or, donations can be made on-line at www.monheganlibrary.com. Thank you!

To learn more about the fascinating history of the first public library, visit our website at www.monheganlibrary.com/the-first-library

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