HARPSWELL — The tiny Cundy’s Harbor Library holds more than just books. Within its walls are the stories of the oldest continuously working waterfront community in the state of Maine.

Known for its stunning view of the harbor on the New Meadows River, this well-loved institution was first brought about by a band of dedicated people. The founders had the foresight to know that this fishing village needed to have not only a library, but a gathering place where neighbors, friends, and “people from away” could get together. They set the groundwork that has been upheld by generations of volunteers and donors.

For six decades, the harbor has seen the ebb and flow of change yet holds fast to the words written by Susan Pulsifer for the library’s grand opening in June 1960: “To seek horizons wider than our own.”

Now, 57 years later, on June 24 at 2 p.m., the library will commemorate its birthday with a tea party, complete with cake. Writer and musician Peter Macdonald Blachly will perform some tunes and read from his memoir, “Stone from Halfway Rock: A Boy’s Adventures on the Coast of Maine.” Also known by his professional name, Peter Alexander, he grew up spending his summer vacations on Sheep Island and has a deep affection for Cundy’s Harbor.

The short program will conclude with a book signing. The board of trustees invites the community and all those who have been involved with the library in the past or would like to be in the future to join the celebration.

Those who started the library back in the ‘50s had a vision as they sought a permanent home for the humble collection of books housed in the upstairs of Holbrook’s Store. Previously, these volumes had been kept in the old village schoolhouse. The group was determined to not move the books again until they had a real library.

Jump-started by donations made in the memory of Hale Pulsifer, the Cundy’s Harbor Library Memorial Fund was formed and a search began for just the right building and location. When the offer of a small house for half the selling price was made by Richard Hatch, the memorial fund was used toward the purchase. An endowment was established by Marion W. Jordan and a prime parcel of land was given by Robert S. Watson.

This house was transformed into the library after it was moved to its new foundation, all made possible by devoted volunteers. Courtesy photo

After a foundation was dug by volunteers, the building was moved to the new location in the fall of 1959. Ten years later, memorial funds, along with the land and building were turned over to the Cundy’s Harbor Library Association.

Over the years, the library was run by volunteers only and in the ‘90s started to be open three days a week year-round. It wasn’t until 2003 that a part-time librarian was hired and given a salary.

In 2010, a children’s room addition was completed, showcasing the incredible view. This spacious, sunny room has an adjoining and much-needed restroom that replaced the “jiffy john” out back, to the relief of the staff at the time. The moment when “the first flush” was performed by none other than comedian and actor Bob Elliot, one of the harbor’s famous residents, is spoken of often with much fondness and hilarity.

The view from the library is plenty of reason to stop by to enjoy a book. Photo by Karen Schneider

Lastly, the library was brought completely into the 21st century when internet service was installed, providing the ability to offer a patron computer station, free Wi-Fi to the community, and to catalog the collection.

The library, as well as the entire harbor, enthusiastically embraces summer and welcomes the return of seasonal residents, year-round patrons, school children, and new visitors researching local history and their ancestry. The community room can be reserved for functions and meetings. The library park is an inviting spot for picnics, painting, and photography. The annual book and bake sale will be held on July 21 and 22, and for the first time this year, used books are on sale at Holbrook’s Store.

The short summer is bursting with activities for all. A calendar of events can be found in local publications, at cundysharbor.me, and on Facebook. Of course, you can call to speak to the librarians at 725-1461.

And if you want to witness the traditional “firing of the cannon,” come out for a free ice cream social that kicks off Cundy’s Harbor Days the evening of Aug. 4!