BROOKLIN – The director and board members of Friend Memorial Public Library in Brooklin are busy organizing summer events to commemorate people and characters important to the town’s history.
The Fourth of July will mark the beginning of a month-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of Stuart Little, E.B. White’s beloved children’s story about a charming, adventurous mouse, written in Brookin and first published in 1945. August will be devoted to honoring the 100th birthday of long-time summer resident, author, essayist and The New Yorker magazine baseball reporter and fiction editor Roger Angell. Not only is Angell the recipient of the highest honor given to writers by the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was also inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Letters – and the only person to have received both of these honors.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic will preclude the on-site celebrations originally planned, alternative methods are in the works. A large Stuart Little Happy Birthday banner, decorated with 75 candles hand crafted by Brooklin’s elementary school children and members of the community, will fly from the library’s facade. Author Martha White, granddaughter of E.B. White, manager of his literary estate, and winner of the 2020 Maine Literary Award for her editing work on E.B. White on Democracy, will be interviewed on the library website. Both Friend Memorial Library and Witherle Memorial Library in the nearby town of Castine will launch an audio production on their YouTube channels of Stuart Little. Community volunteers will read the chapters with music provided by the Witherle Consort, and it will be available July 1 through Aug. 21.
To mark the Roger Angell centennial, the library’s website will feature interviews with Angell, accompanied by a photo montage of his life in Brooklin and links to his New Yorker essays. Congratulatory banners will be hung. There will be a designated Roger Angell Day when community members and friends will gather on the library grounds to applaud the eminent author, who will be holding court on the library porch. Social distancing will be observed.
August will also be designated Local Authors Month to celebrate the many talented writers living in our midst. Authors and publishers to be honored and featured on the library website include Peter Behrens, Ellen Booraem, Michael Chabon, Brooke Dojny, Ben Emory, Diana Emory, Bill Henderson, John Hodgman, Kipp Sienna Hopkins, Bill Irvine, Heidi Julavitz, Rob McCall, Ben Marcus, Paul Mayewski, Kim Ridley, Mary Kay Ricks, Tom Ricks, Susan Shetterly, the late Ann Rivers Siddons, Spencer Smith, Melissa Sweet, David C. Taylor and Ayelet Waldman.
About Friend Memorial Library: E.B. And Katharine White bought their salt water farm in Brooklin in 1933 and moved there permanently in 1937, where they continued to work remotely for The New Yorker. They were active supporters and instrumental in the growth of Friend Memorial Library, and introduced Katharine’s teenage son, Roger Angell, to the pleasures of a summer job at a small town library. Katharine was elected a trustee of the library in 1951 (although it may have been earlier) She resigned in 1963 due to ill health. Until January 2020, the library had had only six librarians, and Katharine White worked with three of them. The side garden that provides shaded sanctuary to library patrons is named The Katharine White Memorial Garden, in honor of her contributions and gardening expertise.
The library is supported entirely by donations from the community and an annual contribution from the town, population 824. The original library building was renovated in 2000, with designs by Elliott & Elliott Architecture of Blue Hill, Maine, and in 2001 won an award of excellence from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association. It is now in its 108th year of service to the community.