To the Editor:
In June 1944, my parents moved to Bar Harbor. My little brother and I came with them, extremely reluctant to leave family, friends and familiar surroundings. I was very lonely, the only one in my first-grade class with no local roots. Fortunately, my mother knew just what to do. She sent me to story hour at the Jesup Library, then presided over by the formidable Mrs. Marjorie Evans, a librarian of the Silence is Golden (and Mandatory) School. There, I was able to meet new friends and marvel at the incongruous case of stuffed birds in the Children’s Room. I became an avid reader of history and for the next 12 years, the Jesup was my refuge.
When I returned to Bar Harbor in 1971, I was invited to serve on the Jesup board and followed in my father’s footsteps, first as treasurer and later as president. During my tenure, we were faced with a magnificent building aging less than gracefully on a very limited budget. The basement flooded, windows rattled, snow blew into the skylight, electrical systems failed, the obsolete steam heat sputtered and hissed, the roof leaked and rain came in through the bricks. It was hot in summer and cold in winter. Space for books, staff and events was extremely limited.
Early in 2010, the librarian and board realized that something had to be done to rescue the building and bring it up to current standards. That would be a major undertaking. Since the Jesup was now 100 years old, it seemed the right time to add much-needed space to the original building.
A campaign committee was formed and began fundraising for the repair and restoration of the Jesup. With generous donors chipping in, that has been accomplished, and though the building does not look much different from the outside, Mrs. Jesup’s memorial to her husband is almost ready for the next hundred years.
Now it is time for a new addition that will leave the Jesup we all know as-is but enable full accessibility to the entire Jesup collection for everyone. It will expand critically needed space for books, patrons and events and allow the Jesup to undertake the full range of activities now expected of a contemporary library. We have just $2 million left to raise in our $12.5 million campaign.
Please Step Up for the Jesup during this final burst of the community campaign so we can meet our goal, and maybe bring the case of stuffed birds back down from the attic.
Sheldon F. Goldthwait Jr.