An early account of the affairs of Bucksport (then called Buckstown) reads "as far back as 1806 certain of the leading men of the town resolved to purchase a library." Their object was thus expressed, "To excite a fondness for books, to afford the most rational and profitable amusement, to prevent ideleness and immorality, and to promote the diffusion of useful knowledge, piety and virtue at an expense which small pecuniary abilities can afford, we are induced to associate for the above purpose."
In a short time a liberal sum amounting to $95.50 was subscribed for this object and the act of incorporation was passed March 8, 1806. The books were purchaesd from Thomas Whipple of Boston, Mass. by a specially appointed committee, included several sets of sermons, other books on religion and on philosophy, a few histories, books on "education of females" and of children, sacred dramas but only one or two books of fiction; it being the prevailing idea of those times that the reading of novels was a waste of time, and in the opinion of many, was slightly immoral.
The men who were responsible for the establishment of the first library in this town were called, "Proprietors," who subscribed to shares at the value of one dollar per share. These shares appear to have been transferable.
By vote of the proprietors, "the duties of the Clerk, Treasurer and Librarian were united in one person." The first to be chosen for these duties was the Reverend Mghill Blood, then pastor of the Congregational Church of Buckstown. He was paid the sum of five dollars "per annum" - at which figure the salary of the librarian seems to have remained fixed for 18 years, when it was increased to ten dollars. The librarian received and issued books from 2-5 o'clock on one afternoon each week.
The “Bye-Laws” provided that, “Any person may become a proprietor of this library by consent of the Standing Committee, subscribing to the Association, and advancing three dollars to the Treasurer.” Many years later the rules and regulations allowed any citizen to become a borrower upon the annual payment of one dollar.
Funds for the maintenance of the library were obtained by an annual assessment of fifty cents on each share or right, “to be used, (according to the records), for the purpose of purchasing new books and otherwise improve the library.”
Although named, “Buckstown Social Library—when instituted it was designated in the record books from 1814-1817 as, “The 1st Social Library,” presumable to distinguish it from another library which existed at that time in connection with the Washington “B” society, and known as the Second Social Library (housed in the residence of Samuel Pond, on site of the present bank building). Later, due to the change of town’s name from Buckstown to Bucksport (1817), the name of Bucksport Social Library was adopted. Incidentally the Second Social Library had been discontinued by this time and some of its books had been purchased by the Bucksport Social Library.
For more than sixty years of its efficient service this library led a nomad’s life, being housed first in one store on Main Street then in another, until it finally found a permanent abiding-place in a small building located in a lane leading off of the north side of Main Street, at about a quarter of the distance between Central and Elm Streets (at date the building is used as an icehouse by Bolin’s Market). Here the library remained until 1887.
The list of those who served as librarian from 1806-1864 includes the following: Oct. 12, 1806 – Jan. 5, 1813, Reverend Mighill Blood; 1813-1829, Samuel Pond; 1830, Dr. Moses Cleaveland; 1831, Samuel Little; 1832, Benjamin M. Flint; 1833, J. Tilden; 1834, Jotham Moulton; 1835, Henry Darling; 1836, Franklin Spofford; 1837, Schuyler Cobb; 1838-40, Henry Darling; 1841-46, Schuyler Cobb; 1847-57, librarian was appointed by Standing Committee – no names recorded; 1857, I.H. Chase; 1858, Wm. H. Darling; 1859, Appointed by Standing Committee; 1860-64, Rufus Buck. No further records are available, but the following are known to have served: Mrs. Annie Swazey and Miss Martha Swazey who served alternately for six months each year before the library as located in a separate building.
By the late 1880’s a larger building was needed to accommodate the approximately 1500 volumes belonging to the Bucksport Social Library.
Mr. Richard Pike Buck, a successful New York business man, who was a grandson of Colonel Jonathan Buck, founder of Bucksport, had many times expressed a great interest in establishing a library building in his native town and endowing it; but his death occurred before he had carried out his plans, and no provision was made in his will relative to them. His wife, Mrs. Charlotte Spofford Buck, and daughter, Miss Emmiline Buck, understanding well the desires and wishes of Mr. Buck, undertook to carry them out – the result being the erection of the present attractive Buck Memorial Library building – located on Main Street at foot of School Street – at an approximate cost of $20,000.
This building, 60 ft. by 20 ft., was constructed of Blue Hill granite, lined with brick. It was especially appropriate for a Buck memorial that the interior wood finish which was of hard pine, was supplied from mills in South Carolina belonging to descendants of Bucksport’s founder, and was particularly selected for beauty of grain.
The stone walls enclosed an entrance hall or lobby with an anteroom in the rear. The main or “charging room” occupied the west wing of the building, and a well-lighted reading room was in the east side. Each of these rooms was fitted with an open fireplace. Below, a spacious basement housed the furnace. The second floor provided ample storage space, which later was equipped with shelves.
Installed above the mantel in the main room was a plaque inscribed, “This building as erected to the memory of Richard P. Buck, by an affectionate wife and daughter. A.D. 1887.”
On October 17, 1887 this building with its appurtenances was deeded to the following named trustees, “Sewall B. Swazey, Oscar P. Cunningham, Nahum T. Hill, Parker Spofford, Alfred L. Skinner, George R. Blodget, Richard B. Stover to have and to hold the same for the use of the people of Bucksport.”
These men constituted a self-perpetuating board of trustees. They were well known for their integrity, culture, and interest in community welfare. Men of similar characteristics and qualities have filled the position during the succeeding years and include (to date): Charles Atkins, Addision Littlefield, Benjamin P. Blodget, Albert C. Swazey, Frederick W. Forsyth, Miss Alice Forsyth, William R. Beazley, Horace Towle, George Laurence Blodget, John Whitcomb, Fred W. Smith, David Buck, Theodore E. Kloss, G. Herbert Jewett, Halvor Prescott, Donald H. Millet, Ernest Baker, Harold S. Chase, R.W. Estabrook, G. Richard Berry, James Bedell, Richard Hanson, Archie White, Alton Grindle, Ralph J. Jewett, Natalie McFarland, Robert Hoffmann, Dorothy Lake, Nancy Bourgon, Evertt O’Neil, Benjamin B. Blodget, Gerald A. Bailey, Ellen Almquist, and Arthur M. Joost.
Of the above-named, the following have served as president of the board: Sewall B. Swazey, George R. Blodget, Parker Spofford, Richard Stover (over 20 years), Benjamin P. Blodget, Frederick W. Forsyth, G. Herbert Jewett, Archie White, Harold S. Chase, Paul J. Brown, Ralph J. Jewett, and Benjamin B. Blodget.
The first librarian to serve in the new library home was the Reverend Alfred L. Skinner, as “Superintendent of the Library and Reading Room.” Miss Alice B. Gardner was chosen to serve as, “1st Assistant Librarian” and Miss Nettie Swazey as, “2nd Assistant Librarian.”
Following the resignation of Mr. Skinner, after three years of faithful service, Miss Gardner was elected as librarian, a position which she filled with honor and efficiency from 1890 to the time of her death in 1932. Mrs. G. Laurence Blodget served the interim until the election of the present incumbent, Mrs. Esther (Emerson) Terrill, in January 1933. The compensation of the librarians from 1890 to 1934 was fifty two dollars per year.
No record is available of those who served as assistants, or, as they were designated, Superintendent of the Reading Room, and who often were called upon to combine their duties with those of librarian. An unofficial list of these conscientious ladies includes (besides the two previously named) Miss Harriet Parker, Mrs. Sewall B. Heywood, Mrs. Evelyn (Crocker) Page, Miss Christine McAulder, Miss Mary Genn, Miss Katharine Bailey, and Mrs. Annie Kittredge.
According to the by-laws, the Trustees constituted the Book Committee. Later Mrs. Annie L. Swazey and Miss Charlotte Woodman were asked to cooperate wit this committee.
(Ed. Note: Records show that the Book Committee in 1964 consisted of Fay Davis, Mary Ann Fellows, Paulene Whitmore, Rev. Charles T. Brown, Livina Arey, and Richard Berry. In recent years, the duties of this committee have been taken over by the library staff.)
They were to purchase books with the income of a certain portion of the bequest, as specified in the will. Subsequent members of this committee include: Miss Eliza P. Swazey, who gave excellent service for many years; Miss Celia Smith, Mrs. Horton Kierstead (both now serving) and the several who have served as pastor of the Elm Street Congregational Church.
The library was supported, and still is, by bequests; the income of bequests; and by monetary gifts from interested individuals, supplemented by an annual appropriation from the Town of Bucksport, “To help keep the Reading Room open to the public.” This appropriation starting in 1903 as the sum of seventy five dollars has been increased from time to time until in 1950 it reached $1200.
Books were (and are) purchased with the income of certain bequests – so specified by the donors. Gifts of books from townspeople and summer residents have augmented the number of accessions so that the librarian’s record in 1950 showed 10,000 volumes. Periodic discarding accounts for the more than 1000 additional books with have been accessioned.
It was the regulation for many years that books could be borrowed or returned only on Saturdays, though the Reading Room was open each day. A twice-a-week exchange of books has been allowed during the past ten or fifteen years, with the building open daily. The old-time allowance of two books and an “extra” (small book or a magazine) is still in force and borrowers cards are issued at the same low price.
Bequests and monetary gifts (the majority of which were specifically designated for certain purposes, either for maintenance or for purchase of books), include: The Ruby S. Lord Fund; Emmeline C. Buck Fund; Sara E. Blodget Memorial Fund; Alice B. Gardner Fund; Phoebe J. Hooper Fund; Charles A. and Sarah H. Swazey Fund – the bequest of Mrs. Augusta S. Gardner; Annie L. Swazey Fund; Parker Spofford Fund; Mrs. Nellie Atkins bequest; Buck homestead; and monetary gift of Benjamin P. Blodget.
Oil-burning lamps furnished the illumination of the new building, but in time were supplemented by electric lights – the gift of Mrs. R.P. Buck. The lighting has been modernized at various intervals also the heating equipment, ranging from a hot air furnace to a coal-burning hot-water heater, then to oil-burning type.
Among the many gifts to the library are two oil paintings, one a likeness of Richard Buck in the hey-day of life, and the other portraying his wife, Mrs. Charlotte Spofford Buck. These grace opposite walls in the entrance hall. A crayon portrait of Mr. Buck in late life looks pleasantly down from above the mantel in the Reading Room.
Nearby are displayed the commission of Colonel Jonathan Buck, as a First Lieutenant in 1758 (signed by Thomas Pownal, Governor General of Province of Massachusetts Bay)’ also, the commission of Daniel Buck as Captain in the Eighth Division of the Militia of the County of Lincoln, conferred by John Hancock, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, dated 1787.
In this room stands a grandfather clock, early presented by Mr. James Emery of Bucksport. Here, too, are hung portraits and pictures presented by friends of the library.
Adorning the mantel of the main room is a likeness of Mr. Buck and one of his wife – two beautiful ivory types – excellent examples of that art. These are gifts of fairly recent date; so is the double-faced, free-standing maple bookcase of excellent workmanship – two sections wide – a gift of one of the trustees.
A modern card catalog system was installed in 1933, including a card cabinet especially finished to match the wood finish of the room.
A feature of the Sesqui-Centennial celebration (1942) of the incorporation of the Town of Bucksport, was the embedding in the grassy bank in front of the library building of two granite millstones which were originally used in the first grist mill of the town, owned and operated by the grandfather of Richard Buck.
The growing popularity of lending libraries and the rapid increase in the membership of individuals in book clubs, may seem to have a tendency to limit the circulation of books from so-called public libraries. However, the almost imperative demand of these times for self-education in many subjects of vital interest, has caused an ever-increasing use of reference books and other books of non-fiction by adults as well as by students of Bucksport and vicinity, thus giving evidence that the Buck Memorial Library is carrying out, in a large measure, the purposes for which its ancestor – Buckstown Social Library was established.
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Contact the Library
Buck Memorial Library
47 Main Street
P.O. Box D.D.
Bucksport, ME. 04416
T: (207) 469-2650
*** NEW HOURS EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2023 ***
Public Computer Use
The Buck Memorial Library has computers available for the public to use during open hours. It also has public wi-fi available outside the library, as well as an electrical outlet outside the building adjacent to the main entry to the library.
Guidelines for public usage:
- Time limit for computer use is 30 minutes if others are waiting - unlimited if not.
- Memory sticks can be used in the public computers.
- Full movie streaming is prohibited (short how-to videos are acceptable)
- Gaming is prohibited
- Harmful malware or websites that introduce it will result in a loss of library privileges
If you need to make copies or print from the public computers, ask at the circulation desk for best practices. Black and white copies are 20 cents per page, Color is 50 cents per page. We do not provide Fax services.
Buck Memorial Library - Board of Trustees
The Buck Memorial Library is supported primarily by it's Board of Trustees. For a complete listing of the Buck Memorial Library's Board of Trustee members, please look below...
- Doug Knobloch - President
- Valorie Shaffner - Treasurer
- Joni Wardell - Secretary
- Larry Wahl
- Kendal Dore
- Katie Hessler
- Wendy Carpenter - Alternate
Library Director: Lisa Ladd