The Library

Our mission is to collect, preserve and lend printed sheet music and scores, and to provide music education programs.

The Bagaduce Music Lending Library was established in 1983 with its first home in the garage of its founders on the coast of Maine, where the Bagaduce River meets Penobscot Bay. Soon outgrowing our original space, the library was moved to its present home in Blue Hill, Maine.

We have grown to become an international resource center for printed sheet music and scores, housing numerous collections of music representing all genres of written music except marching band music. We remain a non-profit organization funded through memberships, small lending fees, and private fundraising. The heart of the our existence is our intrepid crew of volunteers.

A Music Library is Born

The story of the birth of the Bagaduce Music Lending Library involves a borrowed RV owned by a legendary folk singer, a world-famous chamber musician, a big truck, three garages and three friends having tea.

In 1982, Mary Cheyney Gould and Marcia Chapman were on a road trip in an RV borrowed from folk singer Noel Paul Stookey. When they stopped in New York City's Greenwich Village, they found that the big motor home was too large to park on the street so they parked it in a basement garage under a former funeral home owned by David Morton, who summered in Brooksville, Maine on the Bagaduce River. That was garage #1. While there, they invited Fritz Jahoda, a well-known pianist, teacher and chamber musician, who also summered in Brooksville, to join them for tea in the motor home in the funeral home.

The three friends chatted about what they might do with their rather extensive collections of sheet music and scores, which they wanted to share with others and Jahoda suggested that a music lending library, similar to one that had existed in Vienna when he was a boy, would be a fine addition to the area's public library system. Thus the idea for the music lending library was born.

It began to take shape when Gould stepped up to the plate and volunteered space in her garage (Garage #2), footing the bill for a conversion from car park to library and offering to build a third garage. Construction began on the new garage during a terrific downpour which drenched volunteers, but did not dampen the effort. The library was named for the Bagaduce River that flowed by Gould's front door.

The first large donation came from the Bagaduce Chorale, a 10 year old community chorus founded by Gould. The second was from Alexander McCurdy Jr., retired head of the Organ Departments at both the Westminster Choir College, in Princeton, NJ, and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Other donations followed.

By June of 1983, donations of music were coming in so fast that the newly built "library" suddenly became too small to house the growing collection. It became clear that expert help would be needed to deal with the wealth of material. In August of 1983, Marty Dickson, a professional bookbinder living on Deer Isle, volunteered to conduct a seminar on the conservation of documents in which she taught volunteers how to wash the sheet music and dry it on nylon screens. She also banished Scotch tape from the library's holdings.

Gary Nichols, Director of the Maine State Library offered used shelving and furniture and made the fledgling library a part of the Maine Regional Library System. Cataloging music does not fit with traditional book classification. So an entirely new coding system was developed and patented.

A board of directors was created in 1984 with Alton Downer as president and Marcia Chapman as executive director. Chapman steered the organization through the maze of 501(c) 3 red tape and developed an organizational plan. Ed Schneider presented bylaws, minutes of the first meeting and a roster of elected directors on May 23 of that year.

When a truckload of music arrived from the Alfred Nash Patterson Foundation for the Choral Arts in Boston, the library's directors were grateful but perplexed about where to put it all.

After cross-country skiing, Gould and Chapman invited their friend, Mary Martin, to tea. Martin casually mentioned that a barn had recently been constructed on her property in Blue Hill, and she intended to use the bottom floor for her tractors and small power boats.  She asked Gould and Chapman what she should do with the upstairs. A weaving studio perhaps? A sail loft? Finally, Martin asked them, "You don't think it would make a good music library?" Her friends were momentarily speechless, but quickly accepted her offer.

After much volunteer work renovating the upstairs of the barn, in August of 1985 the Bagaduce Music Lending Library held a grand opening at its present location on Greene's Hill in Blue Hill. And the rest, as they say, is history.

(Adapted from, and provided courtesy of, The Ellsworth American)