Bingham Maine Library History

A History of the Bingham Union Library - Bingham, Maine

  This history is from a typed text found in one of the Bingham scrapbooks in the library. It is not signed, dated or attributed. However, most portions of the text are verbatim from the library history found in Bingham's sesquicentennial booklet (1962) and attributed to Mrs. Edmund Melcher. This version was completed sometime after 1971. The text is presented as originally typed, without alteration.


The story of the Library is the story of women who gave unstintingly of their time to procure for the area the advantages of good reading.

The first record is that of a group of fifty readers forming what was called "The Bingham-Moscow-Concord Circulating Library." There were 137 books and the dues were twenty-five cents a year. Mrs. Joel Colby was one of the first presidents. It was formed in 1856.

In 1872 it was re-organized, dues were doubled and the number of books increased to 400, one of which still remains - "The Memoirs of the Reverend Josiah Peet." The books were kept in the various homes, in stores, once in the Post Office, and later were stored in the old Church. Various women acting as president collected the dues, distributed the books, kept records and from time to time purchased books.

In 1921 a committee was appointed by the Century Club to see what could be done to revive the association. Lucinda Moore, Mary Baker and Alice Goodrich, chairman, were to look into the possibility of obtaining a regular room. Such a place was found in the rear of the store owned by Etta Holt. The rent was a minimum one, and the next step was to ask the town officials to have a warrant in the town meeting for $100. There was some opposition, but the husbands of the three ladies were enthusiastic supporters and $150. was raised.

The enthusiasm was so well sustained that the list of contributors came to include nearly every citizen giving funds, time or work to help. Alice Goodrich was elected as president of the association.

Committees were named to solicit funds, books and members. Others were involved in raising money through sales and entertainment. Nearly every week some event was scheduled, such as whist parties, dances, food sales, rummage sales and sales of homemade candy.

By 1922 a thousand dollars had been raised, and when the present building was offered for sale the Library Association was able to buy it. The house was built in the early 1840's for Cyrus Hunter. The carpenter probably was John Cummings, who helped build the Church. Some of the trim is the same in both places. It is a small one and a half-story building with a central entrance hall from which an unusual circular stair-case ascends.

That year the books were placed in the new quarters, and gifts of furniture and lamps and other neccessities were given, and a bequest of books was given by Mary Brinerd of Skowhegan. These books were mostly classics. The cross-indexing was done by Roy Savage and Leon Goodrich. The women continued in their efforts to raise money, and in 1923 a generous bequest from Belle Williams paid off the indebtedness and another fund set up so that the interest could be used to maintain the building. The trustees were E.W. Moore, W.B. Goodrich and W.W. Durgin.

In 1924 the first paid librarian, Alice Goodrich, was hired with the stipulation that the library be open for two days each week. The salary was $1. a week. Now the library was firmly established as an integral part of the four small towns. Alice Goodrich died in 1937.

For the ensuing years there were several ladies who served the community as librarian, and usually, as president of the Library Trustees. Myrtie Cummings, Florence Owens, Eda Williams, Vera Lindlsley, Gertrude Williams and Rebecca Gilman each working for several years.

In 1953 it became necessary to find a woman to serve as Librarian. Elizabeth G. Jordan agreed to move into the building and work there. Accordingly the stacks and book=cases were moved to the north end of the building, a small room furnished for the childrens' books and the south side cleaned and papered ready for her to make her home there. Her special interest in children soon increased the number of regular visits by both children and parents.

Another bequest to the library in 1970 was that of Dr. Anna W. Howes, who had been a Trustee for many years. Again the will stipulated that only the interest on the $10,000 was to be used for the upkeep and maintenance of the building. Mrs. Jordan was in failing health and retired in 1971. Grace Rollins, our present librarian had been helping regularly and she became librarian that year. Now the south rooms were available for expansion and the north rooms were very crowded. Orin Hill offered to renovate the two south rooms in memory of Dr. Howes. The two rooms were papered, painted and new lighting fixtures installed, and the long table and chairs, all given by Mr. Hill. He was also planning the bookcases to be built by the Allen Quimby Veneer Company, and these were given and put in place by that company.

Since that time there have been several more bequests: One for Merton Goodrich the son of Alice Goodrich, one from Mabel Ball, and one from Charlotte Russell and one from Orin Hill. This year we received another from Grace Smith, another member of the Century Club.

Each year we have had scrap-books of the various events in our neighborhood made and presented by the Club, as well as books in memory of deceased members.

We have been very fortunate to be given books in memory as well as funds with which to buy memorial books. The latest were for books for the children's room In memory of Anna s. Howes.

Last year the old kitchen was panelled and painted and new bookcases were made so that we now have a place for our non-fiction books. The two south rooms are now the research rooms.


Back to Library

Back to Bingham