William Chapman Submitted

BETHEL — William Chapman is the new executive director of the Bethel Historical Society.

Chapman started his career by entering a library program at the University of Maine at Augusta, online. Simultaneously, he took a job at the Auburn Public library as a Reference Assistant. As a Reference Assistant, he helped anyone with questions, or if they were looking for information.

But what drew him to libraries?

“…. just interested in a wide variety of topics, and I love learning new things and doing research on stuff.”

It was during his capstone year when he had to do an internship that he decided on one with the Shaker Village in New Gloucester. They gave him a project to scan around 120-150 glass negatives taken by a Shaker brother.

“The cool thing about glass negatives is they really retain their quality, they really retain the sharpness of their image … looking at negatives more than 100 years old you can often read the writing on signs and windows and see the buttons on people’s coats, even. As soon as I got a taste working in archives, I was pretty hooked on that, and after I did my internship there, they offered me a job scanning photographs.”

He would go on to work for the Shaker Village as an assistant archivist for six years, scanning more than 20,000 images. Chapman describes the research process. He’d try to identify people and events in photographs by going through the Shaker archives, through the diaries, journals, and other things.

Chapman was back in Bethel one day, for Mollyockett Day, when his substitute teacher approached him, asking him what he was doing these days. Upon hearing his response, she informed him he should talk to the Bethel Historical Society.

And so he became the librarian archivist for the Bethel Historical Society, and the rest is history. Literally.

So what’s Chapman’s favorite part of being the librarian archivist?

“I love seeing the results of having gotten things cataloged,” says Chapman. “I also help researchers who come in, and people with research, and when I’m able to do a search on a computer or bring up materials on the topic somebody is looking for, it’s just fun to see that….Making discoveries as I go through, cataloging stuff, they’ll be describing when such and such building moved down the street; it’s finding these little interesting things as you’re going through it that make it fun.”

But Chapman’s excitement doesn’t stop there. As the new executive director, he’s already got some big ideas for The Bethel Historical Society.

“One of the things we’re hoping to do this winter, when we close, is put together an introduction to Bethel exhibit, which is something we’ve wanted to do for several years. When we close I’m going to concentrate my energies there for awhile.”

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