Witherle Memorial Library, the public library in the town of Castine, provides diverse informational, recreational, and educational resources for all people in the Castine environs. The library maintains a collection of print, non-print, and electronic resources, and it accesses such resources elsewhere as needed. Trained staff provides guidance in the use of all resources. The library actively seeks input from and provides outreach to its diverse constituents. Witherle Library cooperates with other agencies locally and statewide to increase the range and cost-effectiveness of library services. The library also offers a meeting place for community groups or library-sponsored programs as appropriate.
Witherle Memorial Library began as a social library– a private collection of books accessible only by paid subscription– in 1801. The Town of Castine took over this organization in 1827, and in 1855, became the first community in Maine to establish a library for a municipality.
In 1901, the library moved its books to the town hall until the completion of a new building in 1913. George and Mary Witherle, local ship chandlers, donated the land and the building, and it is from them that the Witherle Memorial Library received its name.
The library is part of the historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it contains over 16,000 volumes that circulate 20,000 times a year to almost 1,400 registered borrowers.
Governance and Administration
The library is governed by trustees who are Castine residents elected by public ballot for 5-year terms with a limit of two concurrent terms. The Board of Trustees is responsible for library finances and policies.
A professional librarian oversees the day-to-day operations and supervises the staff. The librarian also works in collaboration with the Friends of the Library, who provide essential program funding and volunteer time (see Connect).
The Town of Castine
The library is a part of the robust and thriving community of Castine, which includes Maine Maritime Academy–a four-year college, village merchants, and a range of cultural and arts-based organizations.