RANGELEY — The Rangeley Public Library has won the Curb Appeal Award in a national photo contest.

Built of fieldstone in the Arts and Crafts style in 1909, the building was designed to blend in with the beauty of the natural landscape in rural Western Maine.

Although the institution has had many generations of local admirers, the building received national attention when a photo of its exterior won the “Your Beautiful Library Contest” sponsored by Gale Cengage Learning.

The photo was taken in March by Wess Connally, owner of local bookstore, Books, Lines & Thinkers. Connally came to the library three times to take photos and finally ended up entering a shot from his first visit.

Connally said, “It’s the first photography contest I’ve entered, so winning at any level was a great surprise.”

In describing the photo for the contest, he wrote: “It is a building of stone that looks as though it would fit well in the highlands of Scotland or some other snowy, stony place of old. The region it serves is exactly that. Rangeley, and its tiny surrounding townships, lies snug in the Longfellow Mountains of western Maine, a northern stretch of the Appalachians. For those of us who call this area home, our library is as sacred a place as any of our five churches. We are proud of it and show it off to visitors who haven’t already found it on their own.”

Along with the designation of “Best Curb Appeal,” the library received a $500 prize.

According to library director Janet Wilson, “The people of Rangeley have always known what a beautiful architectural treasure we have in our library. Often, first-time visitors to our region stop by just to admire the library, both inside and out. We love showing off the Rangeley Public Library, and are now thrilled to have it recognized nationally.”

The library is a proprietary library owned and managed by the Rangeley Library Association, a policy-making board of trustees/directors, whose mandate is to provide management and resources so the library may provide information and materials for the interests, information and enlightenment of all people in the Rangeley area.

The building was dedicated on Aug. 12, 1909. The circulation desk, book stacks and computers are located in the main room on the first floor. In 1959 a children’s room was furnished on the second floor through the generosity of Mrs. Frank Owen.

On July 12, 1978, the library was honored by membership in the National Register of Historic Places. By 1996 patrons using library computers had free access to the Internet and in 1997 the automation of the library through installation of an integrated circulation and on-line public access catalog was completed.

Its mission is to function as a popular materials library, a preschooler’s door to learning, an education support center, a community information center and a community activities center.

Presently the collection of print and nonprint materials consists of approximately 23,000 items, and an interlibrary loan system provides access to another 1.5 million listings in other Maine libraries. Free access to the Internet is through the library’s 15 public access computers. Wireless service became available in June 2005. Services also include sending and receiving of faxes, copying and printing.

With the new addition completed in July 2002, the library offers the community more than ever. Adult nonfiction is housed in the historical section right off the Lake Street entrance, as well as one of two check-out desks.

Now there is a new entrance coming through a landscaped garden area. Behind the building is a patio with comfortable furniture available to the public for reading, wireless computer use or relaxation.

The open foyer leads to the adult fiction and the new circulation desk. Upstairs, the library offers two children’s’ rooms. The primary room has books, games, videos and of seats for young children and their parents. The older children’s room has a seating area with lots of books and videos geared toward ages 7 to 13.

For more information, visit www.rangeleylibrary.com.

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