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ANDOVER- In 1795 the newly-formed Andover Library Society had 75 books purchased for their collection. Today, more than two centuries later, the library is home to more than 13 thousand titles, an internet connection and an array of DVD's, VHS and audio books.
Library Director, Janet Farrington, along with assistant director, Honey Cronin, book processor, Molly Glover and several young volunteers who are home schooled in the area take their duties at the historical library very seriously and want to continue to allow townspeople and travelers a place to "come home to and relax."
The library has seen their fair share of travelers come through their doors. Being located in the former Universalist Church, they are located in one of western Maine's most historical towns.
Dating back to the days when the Richardson Lakes were frequented by heads of state and outdoorsmen of all kinds; Andover served as a central location and supply point with several hotels that were frequented by those traveling by stage coach from Bryant Pond, where they off-boarded the Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad.
Today, while the hotels and stage coach are elements of the past, the Richardson Lakes still provide boating traffic through Andover during the summer months. The library is now frequented more by snow birds (summer residents), locals looking to connect to the internet or sit quietly reading the paper, homeschooled students requiring a curriculum credit and thru-hikers during the late summer months on their way to Mt. Katahdin while completing their 2,000-plus mile trek from Georgia along the Appalachian Trail.
"We have people come in here after leaving town years ago," noted Farrington. "They laugh and comment that it still smells the same and that it's just like coming home. We love having the teens and little children in here, too. It's a very family-friendly environment. We may not be the biggest or best in the state, but to us, it's our treasure."
While library membership is free to anyone who resides in Andover, there is an annual non-resident fee of only $5 to check out the thousands of titles on everything from how-to and why not to romance and historical adventure.
If there's a book you desire, but can't find, Farrington sends a request to the state library, free of charge and will have it for you within a week. "Our only request is that the books be returned on time so that we can continue to offer the free service to our patrons," noted Farrington.
The library is fully-funded by the residents of the town, but there is an on-going book sale in the front hall and another each year during the Andover Olde Home Days celebration. For 25-cents per book or the trade of another, you can take one from the front hall. The funds raised go into the book fund that is used to purchase new books.
Donations are also accepted, as many who have passed on have requested a portion of their funds go to the library. "That money goes towards purchasing books in memory of that person," noted Farrington. "If they're interested in the outdoors or history, our committee finds something applicable."
"Our library is an important place," noted Farrington. "It's an important part of our community. You don't have to be a reader of the books. There are a lot of people who come in to sit by the window and read the paper."
Since the upstairs room is filled with books from wall to ceiling, there is additional space downstairs in the Ivy Thurston Children's Library for story time, arts and crafts and the occasional meeting that may take place there.
Farrington stated that they have held photography contests down there during the Andover Olde Home Days celebration, the Pennacook Art Gallery has hosted art shows there and there are plans for more shows and activities to take place in the future.
"We have a nice, relaxing, beautiful place," noted Farrington. "I can't think of any place I'd rather be in Andover. It's just like home."
For more information on the Andover Public Library, call 392-4841.