HANOVER — Peggy Susbury’s passion for
the tiny library that sat largely unused for several years has
transformed it into a gathering place for community
activities.

Since the Gardner Roberts Memorial Library reopened just one year ago,
children have gathered for a summer reading program and a group of women known as the Quilting Bees (and Friends of the Library) have created
quilts and other handiwork. A greater number of books have been
added, and a myriad of other events are constantly taking place. There’s Wi-Fi access as well as a
computer for public use.

Until the summer of 2007 the library
sat at the foot of the Howard Pond Road. It was moved after many years of community efforts to raise money for relocation. Now, it’s next to the Town
Office on the Ferry Road and provides parking, as well as a nearby
place to use a restroom.

The 1896 Victorian gingerbread
building was redone inside and out and reopened in 2008. Its historical integrity was preserved. It’s still unheated, but that didn’t
stop Susbury, a retired first-grade teacher, from holding library hours in the
town office when the weather turned wintry.

“I have such a love of books, and I
miss the children. I just want to give,” said the volunteer.

She received a $1,400 grant from the
Libri Foundation in Oregon to buy children’s books.

Her husband, Bob, serves as handyman, she said. He also held a workshop there that
showed people how to test water for clarity.

She opens the library on Wednesdays,
Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. On Tuesdays, she’s home
baking a dozen or so mini-loaves of quick bread or mini-pies. They’re placed in a tray on the porch and sold to help pay
costs for items the library couldn’t ordinarily buy, such as a
printer, lamps and a rug runner. She calls her mini-bakery, The Book
Bakery, and the breads Gardner library bread.

“I didn’t think we’d be anywhere near
this in a year, but it shows what people can do when they pull
together,” she said.

She’s currently planning an after-school
program for the town’s youngsters, and she hopes to open the library
in the winter.  It depends on receiving a grant from the
Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation to pay for a
built-in heater.

The town provides about $1,000 a year
toward library expenses, but most money comes from fundraisers such
as quilt raffles and seedling sales. One of the biggest fundraisers takes
place during the Fall Foliage Run on Oct. 10 when yard and bake sales
will be held, and theme baskets raffled.

Susbury just added another way to place
the library on the map. She became a coordinator for the area’s annual
loon count for the Maine Audubon Society. For many years she counted
the loons on Howard Pond for the society, but when the person who
usually gathers all the information from about 18 area ponds
resigned, she decided to take over the task.

The library has opened up so much to
her.

“I have heard so many wonderful
things about this library. I’m recording their memories,” she said.
“This library pulls together the community.”

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