Milo Free Public Library

Milo Public Library has Interesting History
Piscataquis Observer – June 26, 1985

The first public library in Milo was established under the auspices of the ladies of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Much credit is due to these women for taking the initial step of Milo with the nucleus of the present library.

The library was established for the first few years in the home of Mary Hobbs who obtained the first supply of books from a traveling library, lent her by the State on August 26, 1902. Mrs. Hobbs was also largely responsible for raising the first $100.00 for a library fund.

In August 1909, the books were removed to a room in the Odd Fellows Building, and an organization was formed under the name of the WCTU Public Library Association. Elsie Sherburne was appointed Librarian, followed by Minnie McIntosh. In 1914 Florence Cotter was appointed assistant librarian, and in 1916 she assumed the duties of head librarian.

Through the years the number of patrons constantly increased, and the members felt their rooms were no longer adequate to care for the additional reading matter required, so they bent their energies toward securing a Carnegie Library Building. They applied to the Carnegie Corporation and were promised the necessary funds, provided that the town would purchase a building lot and vote a sum of money for maintenance of the building, and for other expenses. There were many delays, so finally Bert Pineo kindly volunteered to make a personal call on the Carnegie Corporation to get first hand information. He was successful in completing final negotiations with the corporation, and also in obtaining a promise of additional funds for the new building, bringing the total amount available to $10,000. For some reason the corporation made an exception for Pineo as very few people were granted an interview at the Carnegie Corporation, let alone to get more money than other communities.

Prompt action followed Pineo’s report, a special town meeting was held on May 26, 1921, whereas trustees for the library organization were elected. They were: Bert Pineo, Frank Atwood, Eunice Lewis, Harriet Foss, Gertrude Newman, and Percy McLaughlin.

Ground was broken for the foundation of the new building in May 1922. During the year, which was required for its construction, the Rev. Frohock, Rena Cunningham, and C.B. Ramsdell were elected to the Building Committee in place of members who resigned.

When the building was assured, the WCTU dissolved their association and turned over the newly formed corporation the sum of $1,279.26, and all the books, magazines and furnishings.

The building sets on a triangular lot facing the Main Street, at the junction of Pleasant and Park Streets. It is of brick, 26 x 46 feet, with an entrance at the front and on the Pleasant Street side. The plan is from the Carnegie Libraries book, Plan F, for Carnegie financed libraries. The finish of the upper room is of cypress with floors of hardwood. The finish of the hallway is hard pine, the treads of the stairs are of birch, and the risers of hard pine. The room on the lower floor is used for clubs and other groups, and reference work.

Leaflets were distributed by the Carnegie Corporation stressing location requirements, and building guide plans.

There are 17 Carnegie libraries in Maine, two of them in Piscataquis County, in Guilford, and Milo. Carengie did not provide pictures of him to be displayed in the Carnegie built libraries, but the Milo library has a reproduction of one of his pictures that is displayed in his honor.

Libraries, like other educational services, have been affected by the competition of movies, television, VCR’s and other modern inventions; and during periods of full employment circulation falls off noticeably. In the depression it rose to some 300 hundred books a day. The schools have always cooperated and depended on the library for resources, reference and research.

Article written by the late Edna L. Bradeen.

(The Milo Free Public Library is on the National Register of Historical Places.)

Milo Free Public Library’s Website