Moving forward with the South China Public Library

New South China Public Library, under construction on the Jones Road. (contributed photo)

by Jean Dempster

If you travel on Jones Road near the north end of South China village you will see progress on construction of the new South China Public Library building, located at 27 Jones Road. The exterior of the building is complete and interior work will continue over the coming months. Blane Casey Building Contractor is coordinating the project and working with other local businesses. While the exterior looks great, the library volunteers and directors continue to raise funds to finish the interior of the building and prepare to move to the new location.

The South China Public Library is the oldest continuously operating public library in the state of Maine. It was established in 1830 and its founders included members of the Jones family, other Quaker families, and prominent residents of China. The library is one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in the state, incorporated in 1912 as an independent community library. The building presently in use was constructed in 1900 and the addition now housing the children’s room was built by volunteers in 1980. This historic, treasured building does not have bathroom facilities and the library could not expand at the current site. The new location is less than half a mile from the current location and convenient for residents of the town of China and nearby communities, summer visitors, and seasonal residents. The new library will feature more space for meetings, programs, library materials, and outdoor events.

Over the years the most popular service offered by the library is the summer reading program for children ages pre-school through middle school. Each year the program encourages reading, learning, and creativity throughout the summer. Attendance is often 25 – 35 children plus parents and caregivers in the children’s room. An important benefit of the new library will be more space for programs for all ages, and bathrooms!

During the pandemic, the current library has continued to provide library services such as curbside service, children’s programs on Zoom, Story Time on Facebook Live, 24/7 Wi-Fi internet access and patrons have access to the Maine Infonet Download Library which allows library users to download audiobooks and eBooks. The library is operated entirely by volunteers, with leadership from librarian Cheryl Baker.

With over 10,000 books, hundreds of movies and audiobooks for adults and children, and special collections such as Maine authors and Quaker history, there is something for everyone. Public use computers are available or visitors can bring a device and use the Wi-Fi. The library volunteers appreciate the support already provided by the community. The library has been a vital presence in the community for almost 200 years. The building project needs a boost to focus on the future, finish up the interior, and be ready for many more years of serving the community. Library cards and programs are free to all.

Donations to support the new library may be mailed to South China Public Library, P.O. Box 417, China, ME 04358. Visit for more information or to donate through the PayPal Giving Fund.

The current library hours are Wednesday 10 a.m. – noon, and 1 – 3 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. – noon. Questions? Email:


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