Our Library History
Fort Fairfield Public library is a warm, welcoming building for reading, internet access or community programming. We offer free WiFi, genealogy resources and educational and recreational community programming in our community room. All are welcome to join the library, no matter where you live, free! Stop in and see one of our staff to apply for a library card today.
Here at our site you will find our online card catalog, resources for local online history/genealogy collections, including our extensive digital collection. Our digital collection includes our town newspaper from 1863-2012, town reports dating back to 1865, and soon to also host the school yearbooks and newspapers dating back to 1895. You will also find free Learning, Life and Career resources in our Learning Resources and Life Resources pages.
We wish to thank the Ruth Reed Mraz Family Memorial Fund who has been major funding sponsor of our historical digital collection.
We also have our online learning resources provided through the Maine State Library.
Fort Fairfield first had a privately run subscription library as early as 1865. Citizens of Fort Fairfield and Maysville were chosen as the first officeers. These shareholders, as they were called, each contributed $5.00 or donated books in kind, to be able to take the books out on loan.
By 1877 the books were housed in Mr. Trafton's office, a lawyer in town, and it was open Tuesday and Saturday afternoons.
The first public availability of books was started in 1895, with a special meeting of the town, where $100.00 was collected. It was decided to house the books in one corner of Mr. Fred C. Jeffs' jewelry store. (see photo right #9) By the end of 1895 they had 568 books in their collection.
In 1897, Mr. Charles E. Hoit (photo right - Mr. Hoit, age 67) took over as libarian and housed the collection in the back of his clothing store. By 1900, Mr. Hoit was making a grand total of $75.00 a year as librarian. The library was closed for most of the winter of 1901-1902 due to a diphtheria outbreak in 1901 and a devastating fire in Mr. Hoit's store in January of 1902. The library was reopened in February of 1902.
Disease hit the town once again in the form of small pox, in 1903. Library circulation was greatly curtailed with everyone afraid of the contagion.
Photo courtesy of family of Charles E. Hoit
The following years showed a marked increase in the use of the library and it was decided that the library needed it's own building. In 1910 the town petitioned Andrew Carnegie for funds, who at the time was helping to build libraries all across the country. In 1911 Mr. Carnegie sent an offer of $10,000.00 which the town readily accepted. By 1912 a lot, donated by Mr. Hacker, was selected and the materials were ordered. Mr. E. J. Noyes was chosen as the builder. Due to weather set backs, the library wasn't completed until September 1913. The town raised the remaining$600.00 to finish paying off the bills that were not completely covered by Mr. Carnegie's grant.
The grand opening was a splendid affair, with many gifts being presented to the library. Mr. Hoit was offered $450.00 a year to continue as the regular librarian, and his son took over the clothing store.
In 1916 the town hosted it's Centennial Pageant. At that time, the cannon from the Aroostook War was cemented into place in front of the library. Also a Joan of Arc statue was donated to the library by Alforetta Edwards and her daughter Adelaide in memory of their husband and father Delmer Ellery Edwards, who died at the age of 42 in 1909 of appendicitis.
Joan of Arc
"Listening to the Voices"
Click the image to read the entire Centennial Celebration book online at archive.org