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Portland Fire Department : 250th Anniversary

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Portland History

Portland’s esteemed and much-loved Fire Department celebrates its 250th anniversary this month. The City of Portland will recognize two-and-a-half centuries of the Fire Department’s service, with a special proclamation and observance at the Portland Fire Museum, on March 29th. Joining this extraordinary commemoration, the Library’s Portland Room is now exhibiting artifacts and photographs that attest to the brilliant history of the Portland Fire Department.


Above: Apr 1947 – Portland Fire Department fireman on a ladder truck; Second Parish Presbyterian Church (371 Congress Street) in background.

Below: January 1952 – Fire, at James Fruit Company, 225 Commercial Street.

Below: Portland Fire Department locations, in order:

Central Fire Station, Congress Street, Woodfords Corner, and Peaks Island:


Below: Views from the Portland Room archival exhibit:





Additional artifacts, such as a leather bucket, an antique Portland fire helmet, and a hose nozzle from an East Deering firehouse, have been lent by the Portland Fire Museum for the exhibit.
Below: Another ladder rescue, this time by Fireman Joseph R. Miller, on October 19, 1955.

Come on up and check out the exhibit!
The Portland Room is open Mondays-Thursdays, 10am-7pm; Fridays, 10am-6pm.

Archivist’s postscriptum:
During the processing (arrangement, description, and archival rehousing) of our large collection of photographic still film, I discovered a negative which had unusual crayon lines drawn across both sides:

A series of immersion baths in distilled water and Photo-Flo 200 wetting agent loosened the crayon marks from both the emulsion and acetate-base sides of the film, allowing me to completely remove the marks with cotton swabs:

The scanned image reveals the scene of a fire at Portland’s City Hospital (today, it’s known as the Barron Center), 1151 Brighton Avenue, on August 11, 1962, and now the visual information is preserved.

Journaling in the Library- from Longfellow’s garden

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History

Portland Public Library’s Journaling group meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month, at 5:30, in the Portland Room. For July’s gathering we decided to meet at the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Garden, thanks to our wonderful neighbors at Maine Historical Society. (For the August 16th meeting, we’ll be back in the Portland Room, at 5:30.) One of our popular journaling prompts, to get the writing wheels turning, is something we call “write where you are.” We began the summer evening by seating ourselves in different parts of the garden, which offers plenty of nooks and perches. After 12 minutes, we gathered and read aloud what we came up with. Most of our participants sent in their choice excerpts from the exercise, and here they are:

“There are two trellises in front of the brick wall. They appear to be window frames but when one looks through them there is only the bricks. Windows to nowhere. This seems absurd just like the artist who painted ‘This is not a pipe.’ This is not a window.

Some people have windows that have nothing to see when peered out of. Others have windows that showcase spectacular views. Are they always appreciative of the view or does its ability to enthrall wane over time. The human mind enjoys variety. After a certain amount of time it is not aware of what is right in front of it. If sticky notes become ubiquitous the mind ignores them, searching for some fresh perspective to alight on.”

– Stephen

“The pathway of flagstone steps leads up and around through yellow day lilies and ferns. A birdbath sits at the top of the path but no birds are bathing at this moment though their song can be heard from where they perch on branches overhead.”

– Melissa

“A stream comes from lion’s mouth,
The stream hits the water beneath,

Every tree is different,
Dressed leaves or pods.
Some trees stretch their arms towards the sky.”

– Karen P.

“The living brick,
the wind in brick,
Tree stirred to swimming shadow
on the once-dead wall.”

– Rob

“Colorless sky, unconvincing siren, sea gulls sound their own alarm. A tiny ant makes its way across the sea of bricks, passing by another ant.  Writers return to their seats.”

Karen M.

“A stone lion always running his mouth, but forever in one place. This place, with black, iron benches forged with designs of grapes, not of wrath, but of respect for one’s solitude.”. In case someone has submitted a line referencing the lion or the grapes, and you do not wish the collaboration to fall redundant, here is another: “The garden is dressed head to toe in brick, but hidden within a concrete jungle.”

– Elizabeth

“They are red, purple
and white
Staring up at the sky
waiting to be noticed

Planted to stay
but free to climb

They change the
Of the green landscape.”

– Jennifer

“Writers are spread around the garden, surely pleasing Henry’s spirits! At the height of summer, the tress; verdant drapery are at their densest, and earthen aromas of boxwood waft with the breezes. All of this is situated right at the center of the city, and few have any idea this is here, along the busiest street in this state. But on scratch and scribe the writers in Hank’s back yard, scribbling with the seagulls and garden beetles.”– Abraham

(Items from the Library, about the Longfellow Garden!)




Now & Then: art exhibit 150 years in the making

posted: , by Sarah Campbell
tags: Director's Updates | Exhibits & Displays | Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History

Visit the new art exhibit in our Lewis Gallery, something special for the Library’s 150th anniversary! We are very proud of this show, Now & Then: PPL’s Collection Reconfigured, a side-by-side exhibit of items from the Library’s own art collection and archives next to new pieces created by 11 local artists in response. These artists toured over 150 prints, paintings, sculptures, and historic documents to select their partner piece.

Our theme for this illustrious 150th year is the significance of our past, and our ongoing impact into the shared strength and riches of our community now and into the future. This show includes art that tells how the Portland Public Library was founded just 6 months after the terrible fire that destroyed Portland in 1866, and the Public Library emerged as one of the “greatest wants” in the community, decades before other great cities including New York and Philadelphia had theirs.

Now and Then

Now and Then Art Exhibit

From 19th-century portraits of Portland’s preeminent philanthropists to Victorian Era fashion books, from age worn maps to grand oil paintings of seascapes, the artists of Now & Then have taken a variety of pieces, applied their creative lens, and generated new works that reimagine their historic, artistic, and cultural impact. To make any librarian proud, many of the artists also researched the history and cultural significance of the original pieces to further inspire their work.

Now & Then includes artists Kenny Cole, Ellen Gutekunst, Séan Alonzo Harris, Larry Hayden, Alison Hildreth, Devon Kelley-Yurdin, Mike Marks, Mitchell Rasor, and Julie Poitras Santos. The exhibit posters were designed and printed by Pickwick Press artists Pilar Nadal and Rachel Kobasa.

We are thrilled to display these Library gems which continue to inspire imagination and new stories, as told through the talents of these wonderful artists. Special thanks to our sponsors People’s United Bank for making this exhibit possible. The Now & Then exhibit is on view until July 22, 2017.

Keep an eye out for our other anniversary activities including My Card, My Story for you to tell us your library story right now! #PPL150 #PPLcelebrates

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