The doors of the Camden Public Library, located on the hill just above the head of the harbor, were opened June 1, 1928. The land was donated by Mary Louise Curtis Bok in 1916 for the purpose of erecting a library building. Through efforts of local and summer residents many fund-raising projects were held. In 1922 Parker Morse Hooper offered plans for the building. Charles G. Loring, a Boston architect, assisted. The cornerstone was laid August 17, 1927 and the building was completed the next year.
The Centennial Wing, completed September 1996, marked a significant expansion. This new space, built below the lawn, includes a large, light, airy Children’s Room and a community meeting space. Architect John Scholz’s design enabled expansion without altering the scenic and historic value of the original library. The $3 million project was funded with support from individuals and community businesses. One particularly special addition with the Centennial Wing was the Children’s Garden, a quiet spot adjoining the Children’s Room. The Centennial Wing was completed exactly one year after groundbreaking ceremonies September 29, 1995.
This portion of the library, located below ground, houses our main collection of books. In addition, it holds the Children’s Room and the Jean Picker Room, an audio-visual meeting room, which has seating for 75 people. There are several tables for reading and study, as well as comfortable chairs for sitting and relaxing.
The original library building has been restored to a quiet reading room. The library’s collection of periodicals and newspapers are available. There are tables and window seats for quiet reading, and computers for research and reference.
This room holds town and area historical documents, yearbooks from Camden-Rockport High School, and the Camden Herald on microfilm. It includes many old photographs of ships built at local shipyards, as well as early photographs of Camden, Rockport, and Lincolnville. The Edna St. Vincent Millay Collection of materials is housed here. The History Center is open Monday through Saturday, 1:00-3:00 PM.
Through the generosity of Mary Louise Curtis Bok, the land now known as the Amphitheatre was donated in 1931 to the library. Fletcher Steele of Boston was employed as landscape architect for the project. Using local trees and materials, he created a setting of enduring natural beauty, which serves today as a cultural center for the town of Camden.
The Library maintains two special gardens on library grounds, the Children’s Garden and the Jean S. Picker Memorial Garden. Adjoining the Children’s Room, the one-of-a-kind Children’s Garden created by Stroudwater Design Group of Yarmouth, is a quiet place to share a book with a child. The granite bench supports are cut in the shape of books whose titles represent contributions Maine authors and illustrators have made to literature. A beautiful and integral part of the library grounds, the Jean S. Picker Memorial Garden was planted in memory of the late stateswoman, humanitarian, and world peacemaker. The garden features a marine theme with several shades of blue and varieties of flowering plants endemic to the Maine coast around a central sundial.