The West Buxton Library is now serving coffee and doughnuts on Saturday mornings to heighten community awareness of its existence.

Last Saturday, 26 people popped in.

“We haven’t had that many people on a Saturday for years,” said Steve Nichols, a library trustee.

Serving both Buxton and Hollis, the library occupies a former one-room school at 34 River St., on the bank of the Saco River. Built in 1853, it served as School District No. 12 for a century, and the old chalkboards still line classroom walls.

“It’s the cutest thing you ever laid eyes on,” said Dianne Senechal, one of the trustees and the board’s secretary.

The building began housing the library in 1953. The trustees are raising money to continue restoring it, and a recent book and bake sale produced $500.

Sharleen Fields, who has been a volunteer for five years, was named librarian a month ago. Assisted by 14 active volunteers, she has reorganized and cleaned the interior. They hope to paint the original tin ceiling.

Floors are carpeted and two Persian area rugs were recently donated. The Buxton Transfer Station donated a table and a rug for the Carrie Redlon Reading Room for children. The room was named for a former longtime librarian.

The library’s two newest cardholders, Catherine Curtis, 7, and her sister, Jaden Curtis, 4, browsed through books in the reading room on Tuesday. The girls, who were there with their mom, Amanda Curtis of Buxton, joined the library two weeks ago.

Outside, the building needs paint and a new handicap ramp. Fields said library volunteers plan to restore the gardens. The library has a panoramic view of the Saco River. But the river, tranquil this week, hasn’t always been kind. During a heavy rain in 1998, its waters only lapped at the library front door, but 70 years ago, the story was different.

“The flood in 1936 ruined the place,” Nichols said.

A well in 2001 allowed for running water, and toilet facilities replaced an outhouse attached to the building. Two Monitor heaters keep the building cozy in winters.

Although modernized, the building hasn’t lost its charm. “It still retains the one-room characteristics,” Senechal said.

Library stacks have 7,600 books. Soon, more new books will arrive under a leasing program with a book supplier. There are also two computers and a copier.

“We get to pick out 200 books,” Fields said about the lease deal, which will then add 10 more books monthly.

Janet Cole of Portland, who is the librarian’s mother, visited the library Tuesday and pleased to see the recent changes. “I couldn’t believe I was in the same place. It’s beautiful,” Cole said. “I could sit and read all day.”

The library is open all year, from 4-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. -noon on Saturdays. A library card costs 50 cents for residents of Buxton and Hollis, and $1 for others. It has parking for up to eight cars.

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