GORHAM – The South Windham Public Library will practically give away its entire collection this weekend. Still, Catharine Burt, who had three overdue books, made sure she returned them Wednesday — the library’s last day in business.

“One was good; one was acceptable; one I didn’t like,” Burt said after dropping the Anne Rivers Siddons hardcover novels on the front desk and bringing an end to a weekly routine.

Librarian Lorraine Jonassen waived the late fees — normally 5 cents for every day the library is open. Since the beginning of this year, that’s been just once a week.

Until a few years ago, the one-room library was packed from open until close on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, Jonassen said.

“We used to have to shoo out the kids so the adults could get in,” she said.

Now, Burt is one of only a handful of regular patrons.

“With so few people coming in, it doesn’t justify spending the town’s money,” said Allene Bowler, a trustee of the library.

Also, she said, the $3,500-a-year budget split by Gorham and Windham — to keep the building lit, heated and staffed and the collection updated — wouldn’t cover the repairs that the roof needs or the next paint job for the gold siding and green shutters.

The board of trustees decided earlier this year to shut the doors for good. Jonassen, who owns the land that the library is on, gave the town of Gorham until Sept. 8 to move the building or demolish it.

Town Manager David Cole said the town is waiting to see if anyone will offer to take it away, but will tear it down if no one does.

“It’s sad, because it’s such a nice little building,” Bowler said.

The building, once a hose house for the South Windham fire station, was moved across the bridge over the Presumpscot River into Gorham in 1934, when a woman who ran a library out of her general store nearby decided she wanted to expand it, Jonassen said.

Jonassen and her late husband, who bought the property on Route 202 and built a house out back in 1978, learned that they owned the building, too. She said they didn’t want to be responsible for maintaining it, so they sold it to the town for $1, with the condition that it remain a library.

Jonassen, 90, who has worked at the library for 21 years, took over as head librarian when her friend and colleague Esther Noble died last year. She’s had some help from her daughter, Ellen Bessey, who lives with her.

As she manned the desk for the last time Wednesday, Jonassen said the place didn’t look the way it normally did.

The long table that was covered with children’s books had been sold. The chairs where patrons once socialized were gone. Parts of the collection had been given away, and there was no real order to where the books sat on the shelves.

The rest of the hardcovers will sell for 50 cents and paperbacks will go for a quarter at book sales from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Everything else in the building, from a vacuum cleaner to a foot stool, will be up for grabs, too.

If needed, there will be another sale on Aug. 4.

Asked which books they plan to take home with them, Jonassen and Bessey said probably none.

“You’re looking at two people with Kindles,” Bessey said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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