Library History


Library Timeline

Early Store Front Libraries                                    1874 – 1908

Carnegie Library                                                   1908 – 1966

Expanded Mark & Emily                                       1967 – present
Turner Memorial Library


A Brief History

As early as 1874, a group of interested persons formed the Presque Isle Library Association. The members referred to themselves as the “Half and Half Club,” a group dedicated to social exchanges, mutual improvement, and the establishment of a public library. The club’s name reflected the fact that its officers would consist “half of ladies and half of gentleman, when it can be arranged.”

The early collection of books was formed from donations rotated among many Presque Isle businesses, with the librarian usually drawn from the business that housed the books.  The books were first placed in George Rowell’s drugstore and then moved to the Post Office where Mrs. Luce, the postmaster’s wife, served as librarian. Later Laila Smith’s millinery store held the collection.  In 1905 the collection was moved to Holmes Jewelry Store and Mr. Holmes was the librarian.

Presque Isle citizens voted to build a library in 1907, using a $10,000 grant from the Carnegie Fund. Thomas H. Phair purchased a lot from the Dudley heirs for $1,000 on the southeast corner of Second and State Streets, and citizens raised an additional $937.50 for a small adjoining lot. The Presque Isle Library opened on July 1, 1908 with a collection of 2,000 books.

As the city’s population grew, the community needed a larger building and used state funding and a matching donation of $60,000 from Mark Turner, a local businessman and philanthropist. In April of 1967, the newly expanded Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library opened its doors.


Librarian Timeline

Lou Marsten (1908-1932)
Beulah Akeley (1932-1945)
Natalie Barker (1945)
Bernice Libby (1945)
Dorothy Winslow (1946-1948)
Beatrice Rakestraw (1948-1951)
Dorothy Small (1951-1955)
Anne Stimpson (1955-1981)
Marilyn Clark (1981-2000)
Donna Rasche (2000-2003)
Sonja Plummer-Morgan (2003-present)


Library Namesakes

Mark & Emily Turner

Mark E. Turner

Mark E. Turner was a prominent businessman and philanthropist who was born October 29, 1893 in Mapleton. He was a successful potato grower and owned and operated a farm from 1918-1948. In 1917 he married the former Emily Cyr of Presque Isle.

Mr. Turner launched the postwar development of the central business district in 1946 by starting a construction of a two story building on Main Street which was to house the Sears Roebuck and Company retail store. He also constructed an adjoining building where the First National Stores Supermarket and Aroostook Valley Railroad were housed.

On November 2, 1964 the Turners donated a gift of $60,000 to the Presque Isle City Council to help finance an addition to the Presque Isle Free Library. The library was renamed and dedicated the Mark and Emily Turner Library on April 30, 1967.

The Turners were generous contributors to local charities and provided scholarships for area students and contributed to the area’s healthcare needs by making donations to the building fund of the Arthur R. Gould Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Turner served three years on the Presque Isle City Council, was a director and president of the Presque Isle Hotel Company, and a director of the Aroostook Trust Company. He also held memberships in the Abnaki, Lions, and Elks Clubs.

Mr. Turner died on May 17, 1972 and is buried in the Fairmount Cemetery Presque Isle.

Emily Cyr Turner

Emily Cyr Turner was born on June 25, 1896 and was the daughter of Frank and Lillian (Violette) Cyr.

Mrs. Turner attended the Aroostook State Teachers College and taught in the Van Buren schools before her marriage to Mark E. Turner in 1917.

Throughout her lifetime, Mrs. Turner was a generous supporter of the library and devoted her time and financial support to many local causes.
Many of her books and personal belongings are housed in the library.

The Turners were generous contributors to local charities and provided scholarships for area students and contributed to the area’s healthcare needs by making donations to the building fund of the Arthur R. Gould Memorial Hospital.

Mrs. Turner died on May 18, 1987 and is buried in the Fairmount Cemetery in Presque Isle.