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History of the public library in Winthrop, ME


The library in 1922.


The Winthrop Public Library was originally opened on July 8, 1889. The original library location was known as “Packard Block” and was located in downtown Winthrop. The library contained 1,322 volumes at the time of opening and featured a reading room. The collection had grown to 2,700 volumes by 1904. The cost to use the original library was $1 per year, and the library construction was funded through a combination of private fundraising and a Town grant.

In November of 1916, Charles M. Bailey (pictured left) entered into an agreement with the Town of Winthrop to give a new building to be used for library and reading room purposes. The new library was opened to the public on December 2, 1916 in a dedication ceremony that featured president of Colby College, Arthur J. Roberts, and Dennis’ Orchestra of Augusta, Maine. Charles M. Bailey was the best known member of the Society of Friends in Winthrop, and was known for his “Bailey’s Praying Band,” who conducted evangelistic services. Bailey also owned one of the largest oilcloth manufacturers in America at the time, and employed two hundred individuals in Winthrop in the early 1900s. The original rock face and chiseled granite structure, still in use today, was designed by Maine architect John Calvin Stevens, and his son John Howard Stevens.

Charles Irving Bailey (the elder son of Charles M. Bailey) was the first person to serve as Chair of the newly formed Board of Trustees. Lula A. Clifford was the first head librarian to serve in the new Bailey building, and served to the time of her death in 1940. Clifford’s starting salary was $1 for each afternoon and evening the library was open to the public, and in 1920 was set at $25 per month. Mr. John Stanley served as Town Librarian for twenty-five years (at the Packard Block location) before Charles M. Bailey donated the Bowdoin St. building. John Stanley continued serving on the Board of Trustees and Book Committee after Clifford was hired in 1916. Lula A. Clifford was Stanley’s assistant librarian prior to 1916.

The library became a free library in 1970.

The Building Committee first encouraged the Board of Trustees to start thinking in terms of future expansion and acquisition of adjacent land in 1966, and in 1972 the Board of Trustees hired architect George Royal to establish a plan for library expansion. The Winthrop Masonic Hall (occupying the adjacent land necessary for expansion) was put on the market in 1973, and the library Building Committee requested right of first refusal of the property. Further, a 1973 Maine State Evaluation of the library reported that “additional space is much needed and…the library shows a definite need for expansion…” In 1974 the library renovated the basement to be used as a Children’s Room. A YA room was added in the early 1980s.

The library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. In 1988 the library joined MaineCat and became partially automated. The library became fully automated in 1994 and fully handicap accessible in 1997.

The library has long been a place of robust and vibrant programming and lending. In the 1980s the library hosted midday Reading Rainbow viewing parties, puppet shows and lent Polaroid cameras. Today the library hosts activity hours, affinity groups, natural history events and lends snowshoes.

In 2005, the Town of Winthrop purchased the adjacent land necessary for library expansion, and the Board of Trustees hired architect Phil Locashio and began planning. In 2012, the Library Trustees announced the capital fundraising campaign chairpersons, and in 2014 Library and Winthrop Town officials announced plans to begin construction on a one-story addition. The expanded library opened on June 1, 2015.

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2 days ago

Bailey Public Library

Hey everyone! Richard here. I know it’s been a long couple weeks of goodbyes, but I’d like to add to the choir. In July, 2010 I called this guy in the photo with me in for an interview after he applied for a position that I had open at the library. One reference described him as “the nicest man who’s ever worked for me,” while another added “Shane is ‘that employee’ who you never forget and wish never left.” Recently, a Bailey patron described him as “Mary Poppins” because he “arrived unannounced, changed our lives for the better, but now he has to go.” Well I just want to say that Shane was “that employee” and we do wish he’d never leave! Hundreds of you have stopped by to share stories with me about how Shane changed your lives, and I think that’s very neat for a town librarian to have that type of impact on the community. Tomorrow is Shane’s last day at Bailey, and from all of us in Winthrop - we will miss you, and best of luck on your next journey! ...

Hey everyone! Richard here. I know it’s been a long couple weeks of goodbyes, but I’d like to add to the choir. In July, 2010 I called this guy in the photo with me in for an interview after he applied for a position that I had open at the library. One reference described him as “the nicest man who’s ever worked for me,” while another added “Shane is ‘that employee’ who you never forget and wish never left.” Recently, a Bailey patron described him as “Mary Poppins” because he “arrived unannounced, changed our lives for the better, but now he has to go.” Well I just want to say that Shane was “that employee” and we do wish he’d never leave! Hundreds of you have stopped by to share stories with me about how Shane changed your lives, and I think that’s very neat for a town librarian to have that type of impact on the community. Tomorrow is Shane’s last day at Bailey, and from all of us in Winthrop - we will miss you, and best of luck on your next journey!

Comment on Facebook

My heart is full. Thank you so much for the many warm wishes and beautiful comments you’ve all left me here and in person over the past couple of weeks. You’ll never know how much they mean to me! Bailey Public Library will forever have part of my heart and soul. It has truly been my honor and privilege to work for all of you. Please don’t forget me! Love, Shane

Ron and I will miss you Shane your a wonderful person , Your the best , it will take big shoes to fill your spot 🙂 <3 Love ya , Ron and Vicki 🙂

Godspeed Shane ☘️ Thank You for your friendly smile and warm greeting every time any of my family members came to the library. You will be missed!

Good luck Shane M. Billings! Remember you are so welcomed back, if you are called to do so! I shall miss your kindness, warmth, respect for all. As I have ALWAYS said, the world needs more Shane's!

Yes, to all you said! I gave him a little something when I had to leave town and "his" library, hope he takes it with him and remembers me as well as I do him! So glad I left first, can't imagine the place without him!

Best of luck to your future whatever is ahead you got this and it's exciting we will miss you myself included.

Shane was the first person to welcome us to Winthrop. He IS amazing, and will be missed!

I truly will miss this guy. He made a huge impact on my entire family. It is going to take alot to find someone as spectacular as Shane M. Billings!

Good luck Shane!! And I'm sad to see you go but remember this is a new chapter in your life so embrace it and go out and shine for the world to see.

Such a great tribute to an outstanding human being! Wishing Shane happiness and success in his new ventures.

Shane will be very missed for his warmth and welcoming personality. Good luck in your new adventure!

Perfect description. Shane, we wish you the best in all that comes next!

Shane has been amazing and we all wish him the best in what’s next! ♥️👏📖

Wishing you all the best Shane M. Billings! I’m excited to see where this next chapter takes you! Xo

You will be very much missed, Shane! (((HUGS)))

Shane M. Billings I didn't get to say goodbye. I already knew you were amazing. But if I were to calculate your amazingness based on the number of people that have asked about you since I started working here, it would be 1,000%! Everyone is going to miss you so much. Good luck in all you do!

Thanks for saying YES to Shane and Shane, thanks for saying YES to Winthrop! 💚

Yes agreed!!! Congratulations our friend many Blessings always!!!

Thank you, Shane. We'll miss you!!

Great picture of you two!!

Best wishes, Shane!

Awh I love this.

Shane, we miss you already.

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