NORTH LOVELL — It’s said you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Part book repository, part historical museum, part art gallery and always a community gathering spot, the one-room Lewis Dana Hill Memorial Library- a former one-room schoolhouse – is the heart of the North Library community.
“It’s not a huge patronage, but they’re very faithful to us,” said Dennis Hodge who has served as librarian since the departure of Nancy Wilson in March.
While Lovell has the larger Charlotte Hobbs Library, which opened its doors in 1908 and now circulates about 17,500 items, the small Lewis Dana Memorial Library provides an important resource for the community of North Lovell and neighborhing Stoneham.
It operates on an annual budget of about $6,500 from Lovell and $1,000 from Stoneham to help keep the operation of about 9,000 items in circulation going.
In large part, patrons say the real force behind the little library’s continued success is the faithful patronage and its contributions, whether its in a donations of time or money, materials or just patronage.
Each year, the library’s income is supplanted by several events including the annual Fourth of July book and yard sale, a community breakfast and the ongoing lectures series that are held in the library, the former Grange Hall next door and in the case of a large turnout, such as when neighbor Stephen King comes to talk, in a tent set up in the library’s expansive back yard.
“It gives us incentive,” said Hodge of the lifeline between the library and the community it serves.
In the summer as the population on the local lakes swell, the library hours are expanded from two to three days because of demand.
“This is a great thing to have,” said North Lovell resident Jim Rowe, who owns a camp on Cushman Lake and a home in Cape Elizabeth after wandering into the library on a recent Tuesday afternoon.
The library doesn’t scan items or offer a computer lab, resume assistance or other things that larger libraries may offer, but in the past few years WiFi was installed because patrons asked for it. Patrons search for books in an “old fashioned” card catalogue using the Dewey Decimal system.
The library stacks are neatly filled with engaging books encompassing all genre that patrons can take out or sit in a comfortable chair and read. A small children’s wing with pint-size stacks is centered with an equally low-lying round reading table.
What the library also offers is an opportunity to view paintings and historical material ranging from old photographs and paintings of local areas sites to an old wooden school desk that provide an historical museum like feel for patrons, particularly those from Stoneham who lack their own historical society.
“It’s tiny but it makes good use of what’s there,” says local artist, library volunteer and faithful library patron Sam Ring, who has donated his own artwork to the library.
The founding of the North Lovell library in 1945, which was first housed in a side room in the Kezar Lake Grange Hall under the supervision of librarian Lottie Palmer, was a community collaboration of local and summer folks, according to information from the the Lovell Historical Society.
It was named after Lewis Dana Hill (1870-1945,) a summer resident of Lovell for more than 50 years. He was educated in the Cambridge Latin School and a graduate of Harvard. He became and professor of physics and later Dean at Hunter College. Married with three children, he died on June 24, 1945 on a fishing trip to Anticosti Island, an island in the province of Quebec, Canada at the outlet of the Saint Lawrence River.
His friends and family decided naming the North Lovell library after Hill, would be “a fitting memorial to such a fine man,” according to the Lovell Historical Society’s summer 2005 “Yesterday’s News” publication.
In 1966, the library purchased the North Lovell one-room schoolhouse and moved it across the street next to the former Grange Hall where it remains today.
Hill’s 88-year-old grandson is still a faithful patron and user of the library.
Hodge said the strength of the library continues, as it began, with its sense of community. It’s a place to sit, read, view, browse, reflect and learn. No identification needed, no purchase required.
The library is open during the summer Tuesday, 1 – 3 p.m.; Thursday, 4 -6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12. Off season it is open Tuesday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12.
All are welcome to come in and sit a spell.