The first effort toward establishing a public library in Sanford was made in the late 1870's. Thomas Goodall erected a small building on School Street with the intention that it would be used as a library, but there was insufficient interest in his project, so the structure was used for another purpose.
By the mid-1890's, a group of young gentlemen, including Edward Emery and Bentley Aveyard, along with the women of the Literary Guild (later called the Searchlight Club), began promoting the establishment of a library. On June 18, 1898, the Sanford Library Association was organized in order to provide library service to the people of Sanford.
Thomas Goodall, first president of the library association, allowed his School Street property to be used as a home for the library. It opened for the circulation of books on December 31, 1898. Over eighty individuals held membership in the organization, each paying two dollars a year for the use of the books. Mr. Aveyard was the first librarian (a position he held for over thirty years).
On June 1, 1900 the library was opened to the general public free of charge, and in 1901 the town of Sanford began allocating money to support it.
The library remained on School Street until 1937, when a brick colonial-style building was erected and given to the town of Sanford by Dr. and Mrs. Harvey D. Thornburg. Designed by Sanford native William O. Armitage, the building was named in honor of Mrs. Thornburg’s father.
At the town meeting of December 6 and 7, 1937, the new library building was accepted by the people in accordance with the terms of the gift: that it be forever kept and maintained by the town of Sanford as a public library for the inhabitants therein. In addition, the town voted, in accordance with the desires of Dr. and Mrs. Thornburg, that the administration of the affairs, building and grounds of the library be delegated to the Sanford Library Association.
Shortly after the new structure was opened, the library embarked upon a new venture. The first branches of the library in the various public and parochial schools of Sanford were established in 1938. Within three years, all schools had been offered this service, and most had accepted it. By 1968, when these branches were discontinued, the total school circulation had reached almost one million transactions.
The Carpentier Branch Library opened in 1950 to better serve the needs of the residents of the east side of Sanford. The facility, first located in the field house at Carpentier Park, was moved to a store-front at the corner of North Avenue and High Street in 1963. Due to budget cuts, the Carpentier Branch Library closed its doors forever on August 1, 1991.
Over the years the use of the library increased, along with the number of books and materials housed upon its shelves. On May 16, 1976, a major two story addition was dedicated. Constructed with town funds, it contained a children’s room, a multi-purpose section, and a combination reference and non-fiction area.
The library's handicapped accessibility took a giant step forward in 2004 with the construction of an elevator, funded by a Community Block Development Grant and several local foundations. This improvement greatly enhanced the library's utility as a site for meetings, programs, and voting.
In 2011 the library made major improvements in energy efficiency. The original fuel-oil furnace, and the wall-mounted air conditioners (ca. 1995) were becoming decrepit. They were replaced with a geothermal HVAC system, and insulation was added or upgraded throughout the building. Funding for these projects was provided by the library's endowment funds along with grants from Efficiency Maine and the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.
The mission of Louis B. Goodall Memorial Library is to encourage, foster and enhance a lifelong enjoyment of reading and learning for the community.
School Street Library
Louis Bertrand Goodall (1851-1935), son of Thomas Goodall, was a prominent citizen of Sanford and a Member of Congress from 1917-1921 (photo courtesy of Sanford Springvale Historical Society).
In January 2008 Goodall Library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Louis B. Goodall Memorial Library, 952 Main St, Sanford ME 04073
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