HANOVER — The Gardner Roberts Memorial Library offers visitors more than books in its single room sheathed in honey-colored wood from floor to ceiling.

At just 20 by 25 feet, the Victorian building built in 1895 and owned by J. Gardner Roberts served as a post office with a “lending corner” on Howard Pond Road.

Over the years it was repurposed as a private library and in 2007 was moved next to the Town Office along the Androscoggin River on Route 2. Its history is contained in scrapbooks stored on site.

Lynne Ramsey, the volunteer librarian and president of the library association, oversees the all-volunteer staff of retirees.

Volunteer librarian Lynne Ramsey leaves the one-room Gardner Roberts Memorial Library on Jan. 17 in Hanover. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

“Gathering Room” reads a sign on one wall.

On Tuesday afternoons The Bees come to sew for charity and to chat. Ramsey was knitting on a recent craft day, while Chris Hoyt of Mexico did Swedish weaving on monk’s cloth. Cheryl Gallant of Hanover was hand sewing a quilt border.


The women make quilts for newborns and are sewing pads for rescue dogs at Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills in Paris. This past Christmas, they made wreaths and raised $400 for the library.

Their fundraising spans many projects over many years, including Pie Nights in the summer.

“Didn’t matter if it was a pizza pie, a fruit pie or a shepherd pie,” Hoyt said. “I brought whoopie pies and they went like crazy. We have more fun,” she said.

The first Pie Night raised money for a young, handicapped man in town who needed a house. Ten years ago, a woman who was badly bitten by a dog was the beneficiary. When the Rumford Point church needed a steeple, it was the recipient of a fundraiser.

In the fall, the staff holds a festival. Last year, they raised $4,000. There is also a yard sale, craft fair, bake sale and raffle baskets.

“For our little town, the library is the social hub,” Ramsey said. “We’re not very big and of course the library isn’t very big. We can’t have a ton of people inside the library, but in the summer we can expand out to the grounds around.”


The library is open Wednesdays at 10 a.m. for coffee and conversation and in the afternoon for people to play Mah Jongg until closing at 3 p.m. One recent Wednesday, Hoyt, Rita Aromaa and Irene Kuchta, both of Hanover, and Jeanne Cushing of Rumford played the American version of Mah Jongg. Their conversation circled around various topics: the price of mealworms and bird suet, a one dollar coin someone found and whether wallpapering is still in style.

Mah Jongg tiles are displayed Jan. 11 by a member of a group that plays Wednesday afternoons at the Gardner Roberts Memorial Library in Hanover. Rose Lincoln/The Bethel Citizen

“My wallpapering is all done,” said Cushing, who recently papered her parlor.

Saturday morning is activity-free from 10 a.m. to noon.

There is no plumbing, Ramsey said, so they have a key to the Town Office to use its bathroom.

The building is insulated, though, and has a propane stove for heat during the winter.

“Peggy Susbury was dedicated to this library for about 10 years,” Ramsey said. “I certainly would like to give her credit. She got several grants, including the Stephen King grant” that paid for the insulation and stove. She and her husband were responsible for getting everything back together after the 2007 move.


Fundraisers brought in $40,000 for the move and two or three large benefactors and the town contributed as well.

Jimmy Knight of Rumford Point and Greg Gallant of Hanover rolled the library down the hill to its new location.

“Peggy was probably sweating bullets,” Ramsey said.

Books in the one-room Gardner Roberts Memorial Library in Hanover are categorized by letters, not necessarily in alphabetical order by author. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

The library has transitioned over the years as the demographics have changed. At one time, a book mobile arrived weekly with as many as 200 titles, Ramsey said. “Parents read to the children at a story hour. More recently, children, parents and staff met Saturday mornings to garden in the triangle in front of the library. Then the children grew up and there were no replacements.”

Two shelves are still filled with children’s books, and there are Maine-themed fiction and nonfiction titles.

And there are borrowing privileges with the Rumford Public Library. “If anyone wants a specific book we can always get it within two or three days,” Ramsey said.

She orders eight to 10 books a week for their collection, depending on what’s popular and what has been requested.

“We don’t actually catalog our books, we give them kind of a general order, said Kuchta, who worked at three college libraries before volunteering at Gardner. “The letters are together but they’re not alphabetical on the shelf by author,” which she admits is sometimes frustrating, “but it’s very social, our library.”

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