We are excited to announce that throughout 2017, PPL will celebrate 150 years of education, entertainment, and discovery for all.
The year-long celebration of PPL’s “birthday” will include special events and programs at all locations. “The story of the Library is the story of our community,” notes Executive Director Sarah Campbell. “This is an exciting time to reflect not only on how the Library has been important in the history of Portland, but also on the library offerings and partnerships that bring the community together and build our civic life with one another.”
Celebrations kick off on Wednesday, January 25 with birthday treats at all branch locations. In addition to special events planned throughout the year that include historical exhibits in the Lewis Gallery at the Main Library as well as pop-up exhibits across the system and a family-friendly BooktoberFest celebration this fall, we will have 150th commemorative stickers, bags, and more as giveaways or for purchase to mark this exciting anniversary.
Wednesday also sees the launch of “My Card, My Story,” a collection of crowdsourced stories about the unique library experiences of PPL patrons, staff, and community members. We invite you to contribute your personal stories about what your library card means to you. We will feature these perspectives on our social media channels and publications throughout the year. Patrons are asked to submit their story at any PPL branch location using one of our story cards or by completing this Google form.
Portland Public Library was incorporated on January 22, 1867, just six months after the devastating Portland fire of 1866 which left more than 1,500 buildings destroyed and 10,000 people homeless. Prior to this time, Portland’s libraries were private institutions where only paying members could view or borrow materials. The then-radical notion of a public library open to all was described by Mayor Charles Chapman as “so veritable a home of true democracy … an atmosphere of philosophy, knowledge, and fancy.” Freedom and inclusiveness remain core PPL values.
Today, Portland Public Library provides service and support to 675,000 visitors annually at four locations and a bookmobile and is the most visited cultural institution in Maine.
PPL Board President
Throughout 2017, some of our partners will share their perspective on PPL in honor of our 150th anniversary celebration.
Today’s guest author is Beth Bordowitz, who serves as the President of the Library’s Board of Trustees. Beth is currently reading What It Takes, The Trespasser, and any Portugal travel book she can get her hands on.
“What an atmosphere of philosophy, knowledge and fancy, – with all of their kindred relations – will pervade this edifying place.”
Portland Public Library (PPL), founded 150 years ago, was opened to the public with great fanfare with those prophetic words from Mayor Chapman. Originally housed in City Hall, the Library has made its home in many places throughout the Portland community, including the iconic Baxter Building just blocks from the current Main Library.
PPL now comprises four branches, a Bookmobile, and an Annex for more collection holdings. We offer ebooks, movies, and music, and we host programs, discussions, and events. While we have evolved, one thing remains constant: We continue to serve as the “vast repository of learning for the continual reference and use of all enquirers” foreseen by Mayor Chapman at our opening.
And the Library is so much more than a repository. We are a dynamic, accessible resource for all in the community. We are a place to use a computer, learn a skill, receive help filing your taxes, join with other members of the Portland community to engage in civic discourse, visit a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio.
As we embark on our 150th year, we will be doing what we do best: sharing stories. When you visit your favorite branch, we may ask if you would like to share a story of what the Library means to you. The story of the Library is the story of our community, and I invite you to add your voice to those of your neighbors, of your fellow patrons, and of our many partners in the community.
As the President of the Board of Trustees in this historic 150th year, I invite everyone in the community to visit the Library, to borrow a book or a movie – at your favorite branch or electronically from wherever you might be – to take in the changing art exhibits in the Lewis Gallery or a performance in one of our spaces, to lend your perspective to a discussion or a public meeting. Join us in celebrating all PPL has to offer. Learn why we are saying: 150 years of education, entertainment and discovery for all. PPL: It’s a long story.
According to his autobiography, Martin Luther King was a student at Morehouse College when he first read Henry David Thoreau’s “On Civil Disobedience.”
“I became convinced,” wrote King, “that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
We remember Dr. King for his legacy of peace and nonviolence; let us also honor his courage, and his passion for racial equality and economic justice.
For a list of films about Martin Luther King, click here.
Also, join us on Thursday nights in January for our Civil Rights Film Series.