Photo by Eva Murray
Mantinicus Island is a community off the coast of Maine, population 51. It sounds like the start of a Steven King novel, but it’s an actual town – they don’t have a high school or a doctor, or a mall, or lights or expedited delivery or drive-through eateries. But they do have a public library. It’s housed inside an 8 by 20 foot utility shed. Eva Murray, a resident of the island, writes about this awesome little library in the Penobscot Bay Pilot.
We have no dignified stone building and we will be doing without a pair of lion statues out front, an antique map room upstairs, or the classic stern and tweedy librarian shushing children from behind a marble desk. In the usual style of journalism about Matinicus, there is the list of what we don’t have: we don’t have the Dewey decimal system or library cards or late fees or any chance at a hushed and reverent silence. There will surely be no need for that. We hope to have our nascent library recognized by the Maine School and Library Network, and to eventually have our Internet through them. This was in fact the initial impetus for the whole library project. Last year Matinicus had no school-aged children on the island. In June of 2015, despite firm assertion on the part of our Superintendent of Schools that there would be enrolled students the following year (and indeed, there now are,) MSLN disconnected service to our school. Reconnection was, for some reason, an exceedingly drawn-out and laborious process. The connection provided by MSLN is much more than household subscriber Internet; it supports the school’s Tandberg videoconferencing unit, useful for meetings such as fisheries and energy-related informational workshops organized by the Island Institute, University of Maine courses for professional development and adult continuing education, special services or counseling that may be required by community members including students, and routine inter-connectivity among all of Maine’s one-room island schools. This level of service would not be affordable without MSLN.
-via Jessamyn West