May 22, 2018
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California benefactor donates another $25,000 to Presque Isle library

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A California resident who previously donated $1 million to benefit the local library and community has donated another $25,000 to the Mark and Emily Turner Library.

Mary Smith donated the money last week to help fund interior design planning that eventually will make the library more accessible and comfortable for patrons. Sonja Plummer-Morgan, the librarian at the Second Street facility, said Tuesday that Smith’s goal is to work with the community, the library staff, its board of trustees and professional designers to bring the warm and vibrant colors of Aroostook County to the library’s interior.

“She is looking at the whole library,” Plummer-Morgan said. “She is making sure there are enough reading areas for groups and for individuals, and she wants it to be warm and inviting.”

The librarian said officials will work together to use the donation to offer patrons “quality, comfortable, and beautiful furniture” for reading, research and community social interaction.

“The design team hopes to use Maine-made furniture,” she added.

This is not the first time Smith has donated money to the library.

Smith was instrumental in facilitating a $1.5 million renovation project that started last fall. The bulk of the cost was financed through a $1 million donation from Smith. When the California resident visited the library in 2010 to use a computer, she said she realized how important the library is to the community, especially to those who do not have a computer or telephone of their own.

Smith’s grandmother Beulah Barton Akeley was the librarian in Presque Isle from 1932 to 1945, and her father and mother were born and raised in Aroostook County.

The expansion has added more space for books, computers and other materials to make the facility more compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. An elevator to take people to the top floor of the library also has been installed.

Smith’s donation follows funding pledges from Ray and Sandy Gauvin of Mapleton, who are providing financial assistance to help create a teen center on the third floor of the library.

The couple also donated a commissioned series of oil paintings by artist Chester Gage titled “Maple Sugaring” on permanent display at the library.

“Our heartfelt thanks go out to all those who have made donations to the library for their support,” Plummer-Morgan said. “Such gifts are the very essence of community building, and will benefit our library patrons for years to come.”

Louise Hamlin, another trustee, agreed. She added that such donations were helping the community to continually improve.

Plummer-Morgan said that the library wants the teen center to be a place where youth can study and do their homework, socialize, listen to music, watch movies and more.

“It is still under development,” she said Tuesday. “We have a lot to discuss. But these donations are wonderful and they give us a lot of hope. It is fantastic.”

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