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Mantor Library History

The Early Years
In Farmington State Normal School’s early years, students used the town’s public library for their academic needs. Principal George Purington was a strong advocate for and one of the chief organizers of the town’s library in the 1890s. In October 1923, the local newspaper reported Normal School students could borrow fiction books from the town library for 2¢ per day; non-fiction and reference works could be borrowed for free.

Agnes Mantor, Class of 1915 graduate and long-time member of the History faculty, was the driving force behind the establishment of the college library. It began as a single room on the first floor of the administration building, Merrill Hall. Once the town’s new Training School (currently known as the W. G. Mallett School) opened, there was space in the Merrill building to create a college library. The campus newspaper of December 1932 described it as a reading room with a reserves shelf, staffed by a student librarian and volunteer helper. The 1933 F.S.N.S. yearbook reported the library’s first gift of funds was $50 given by the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity and its early success attributed to its first librarian, Miss Doris Fletcher.

The Reading Room
In 1935, the library collections were reorganized and shelved by Dewey classification system. The room was also rearranged so the bookshelves were along the walls, allowing more open space in the center for additional tables and chairs to seat up to 50 students. By fall of 1937, the collection, which included many titles on teacher training to support the Normal School’s curriculum, had grown to 6,550 books. Alumni donations and fund raising through an annual “book party” were the mainstays in developing the collection during this period. By 1938, the Normal School had a librarian on staff, Miss Elizabeth H. Weeks.

In 1944, the library received an endowment of $50,000 from Edith Clifford, Class of 1890, which enabled investment in the collections. The library expanded to include three sections - a Browsing Room and two Reading and Reference Rooms. It also included the Home Economics collection, previously housed in the Home Economics Annex. According to the library regulations of 1944, there was a Virginia Porter pay collection of books in the library. Students could borrow books from this special collection of modern fiction and literature at a rate of 5¢ per week.

Mantor Library
By 1947, the library was outgrowing its space and the Normal School sought financial support from the state to build a new building that would include a library. However, the school was not able to successfully obtain the necessary funding to construct a library building until the mid-1950s.

The new Library-Classroom building, built on the corner of South and High Streets, was completed in 1956. On May 17, classes were cancelled for the afternoon so the students and faculty could help transport the books from Merrill Hall to the new building. Librarian Agnes Mantor and library assistant Amelia Phetzing directed the moving and placement of the estimated 15,000 books on their new shelves in the Edith Clifford Memorial Reading Room.

The library was formally dedicated on June 5, 1965 and named in honor of Agnes P. Mantor, who served as the college librarian from 1951 until her retirement in 1965.

In 1996, the library underwent a major renovation and expansion, which included a new information literacy classroom, additional spaces for studying and collections, and new technology for student and community use.

In fall of 2014, the first floor of the library was redesigned to better meet the needs of current UMF students. The previously white walls have bright new colors, the traditional tables and carrels have been replaced with a variety of comfortable seating to accommodate individuals and study groups, and library users are greeted by the aroma of fresh coffee from the cafe in the main lobby. The Learning Commons provides a flexible space for studying, writing and tutoring assistance, and research help.

In 2018, the book stacks were removed from the second floor to create a large open quiet study area that also serves as an event space. The following spring a MakerSpace was added on the first floor to provide student access to 3D printing and oversize color printing. In 2020, grant funds were used to purchase more tools and resources for the space.

Sources: Effesseness, 1933; Farmington State Normal School Handbook, Volume VIII, 1944; F.S.N.S. Mirror (December 15, 1932; December 1935; and October 14, 1937); FSTC Students Lug 10,000 Books to New Reading Room, Portland Press Herald. May 17, 1956; Student Teams Move 15,000 Books to New Library, Franklin Journal. May 18, 1956; The Dedication of The Mantor Library, Farmington State Teachers College, June 5, 1965; University of Maine at Farmington: A Study in Educational Change, 1864-1974, Richard P. Mallett, Freeport, Me.: Bond Wheelwright Co., 1974.