PHILLIPS – On Valentine's Day, the Phillips Public Library will host a community tea party from 2 to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
Hedy Langdon, library director, said Susan Hunnisett of England will give a demonstration on making a proper cup of tea. She and her husband own a tea and antiques shop in Phillips and she will share secrets for making the perfect cup of tea.
The event has become a tradition, with many of the attendees bringing a potholder to swap with others and drinking tea from their favorite teacup, she said.
The library has become a popular gathering place for some of the more modern and eclectic pursuits. Maggie Scholl teaches adult education classes in one room while quilters or knitters or weavers gather in another room for their monthly get-together.
Students come for a beginners’ belly-dancing class on Tuesday nights. Students checking email or doing homework on computers seem to ignore the activity around them.
In the children’s room, there is penguin wallpaper, and youngsters lie on a bear rug while reading their favorite story. Many of the activities are organized by Langdon’s helpers, Friends of the Library.
Friends of the Library has become an invaluable support group for future plans. Fundraisers could help pay for the dream to build a patio behind the building.
“Maybe donors could purchase patio stones they’ll enjoy on beautiful summer days,” she said. “All these plans are still in the talking stage.”
Before it housed the library, the elegant Paul G. Whittemore building on Main Street served as the town’s high school from 1894 to 1969. It served as the Phillips Middle School until 1988.
The library was organized as a private corporation more than a century ago. Before moving to the current building, it was above the Town Office and in the Phillips Historical House. The library board began fundraising and renovating the Paul G. Whittemore building in the spring of 1998 and reopened it as a library in March 2000.
The High School Alumni has given generously, as have local residents. Some renovation costs were donated or were covered through grants. The town supports the library with a yearly financial appropriation, and many patrons come from nearby towns.
“We still must remain self-supporting,” Langdon said.
Each year, Langdon and Friends organize musical performances that often feature area residents or former residents, who may have moved away and returned for a visit. In May, pianist and singer Bianca Caruso, who moved to Texas and later to California, shared her talent at a spring benefit concert.
"She was just great, and we had a sold-out performance," Langdon said.
Students from the Maine School of Masonry in Avon have volunteered to build the structure that will house a new sign for the front of the building. Langdon said she looks forward to advertising events and information to the community. Other dreams are more expensive and long-term, but that doesn’t mean they won’t happen, she said.
“We have acquired the old cafeteria, which everyone calls the Annex,” she said. “We hope to have music lessons and music programs and eventually a music studio there.”
The new space will move a lot of the activities, leaving the library for its more traditional uses.