A Storied Tradition

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Carnegie Library on the Good Will-Hinckley campus had been closed since 2008, but since its recent renovations, it’s open and serving students once again.

The project was funded by private donations and grants, just like when steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie’s gave $15,000 to construct the original library more than 110 years ago.

Historic photo of the library at Good Will-Hinckley
Original Carnegie Library at Good Will-Hinckley

Back then, Carnegie Library had a modest collection of books that grew over the years, thanks especially to its first librarian, Jane Hinckley, George Walter Hinckley’s sister and the first GWH Matron.

Today, the library is used by GWH’s campus life students and students attending the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences. It’s a high-tech library with laptops, a 3D printer, an interactive view board and much faster Wi-Fi. There are some books on display collected over the past few decades, but they’re not used by students.

Carnegie Library is one of the signature buildings as you enter the GWH campus, and there are many pictures showing the history of Good Will-Hinckley on display in the new library.

A Modern Library is More Than Just Books

Joe Grollino, an ed tech from MeANS, says the school is utilizing the newly renovated Carnegie Library to host remote classes for MeANS students who are living in the cottages on campus.

“It’s a wonderful space with lots of natural light, and we love the building,” Grollino says. “But we are all longing to get back to the MeANS school building as soon as possible.”

The students are missing the in-person lessons from their teachers, he says, and they just can’t wait to get back into the daily school routine side by side with all their peers.

Carnegie Library: Good Will-Hinckley
Renovated Carnegie Library at Good Will-Hinckley

The new library provides a lot of the modern technologies students expect, like high-speed internet and laptops with improved performance capabilities. However, there’s no replacing in-person learning.

We’re very proud of the new Carnegie Library, and we’re excited for when it can be an integrated part of our students’ overall learning experience.

Libraries at GWH

Libraries on the GWH campus have had a long history. In 1889, George Walter Hinckley decided to build a rural community for young children, and he knew he needed a library as part of the facility. His calls for books received tremendous response from the community, and a few years later, Hinckley had a collection of about 150 books.

On New Year’s Eve in 1904, a fire destroyed the Moody School, including its collection of 5,000 books and the finest school museum in Maine, according to Hinckley.

Reconstruction began in the summer of 1905, which is when Hinckley first reached out to Andrew Carnegie about the loss of the library.

When Hinckley reported that Carnegie, the great steel tycoon and philanthropist, would fund the rebuilding of a new library, the community was elated. Work began in the spring of 1906 and was completed a year later. The new Carnegie Library was dedicated during a ceremony on May 29, 1907. Jane E. Hinckley, George Walter’s sister, was its first librarian. By the time she died in February 1914, the library had over 12,000 volumes.

In later years, a biblical library was established in Moody Chapel, and the Emily F. Ryerson Library was built after a fire destroyed the Ryerson School for Girls in 1926.

With this latest renovation, we’re pleased to continue this storied part of GWH history, adding a new focus on digital resources.

Carnegie Library interior
Renovated Carnegie Library Interior

It’s important we continue to provide comfortable, non-institutional space for students and staff to learn, experience new ideas and get lost in wonderful stories, while at the same time providing a sense of place for gathering.

We’ve set the library up to celebrate the past with the students’ stories presented in the space as well as looking to the future with available technology to allow equitable access to anyone in search of information.

We’re excited about the present for the library and our GWH community, and we’re even more excited about what the future holds.