Ellsworth Public Library

Special Collections: Alvin S. Whitmore Collection for Genealogy and the Maine Reference Collection

The Special Collections at the Ellsworth Public Library include the Alvin S. Whitmore Collection for Genealogy and the Maine Reference collection. The Genealogy materials consist of various media connected to ancestry, cemetery, military, and vital records of area communities, as well as some material of local interest from other areas. The Maine Reference section consists of similarly diverse media connected to town, county, and state history, legislation, and other matters considered of importance. Items included in Special Collections are not available for circulation due to the rare and fragile nature and/or unique nature of these items.

The purpose of the Special Collections is to serve the information needs of Ellsworth Public Library patrons (both on site and remote) with regard to their own ancestry and local area history in an accessible and organized manner. It will also comply with the Charter of the City of Ellsworth, Article VIII : The City Library, and all sections therein.

Special Collections Committee


  • To review and recommend any changes in the Special Collections Development Policy to the Board of Trustees, with special emphasis on review of the subject areas collected.
  • To review and approve the acquisition of any large gifts of material. Large shall be defined as collections of over fifteen (15) items to be received at one time from one individual. Items must meet the existing definitions of subject areas collected or be of essential importance to the local community.
  • To review and approve the withdrawal of any items from the Special Collections and to approve their disposition.


  • One member of the Board of Library Trustees
  • One member of the City Council
  • One representative from the Hancock County Genealogical Society
  • Director of the Library
  • Special Collections Librarian
  • One resident of the City

The Special Collections Committee shall meet no less than once in each fiscal year for the purpose of reviewing the subject areas collected and the Special Collections Policy to determine if any changes should be recommended to the Board of Trustees. They may also meet, as needed, to review large collections that the library is being asked to accept for the Special Collections and/or the withdrawal and disposition of items from the Special Collections.

The establishment of this Committee shall in no way negate or amend the provisions of the Charter of the City of Ellsworth, Article VIII : The City Library with respect to the responsibilities of the Board of Trustees and the City Council.

Subject Areas Collected
Collected areas are regularly reviewed and modified by the Special Collections Librarian and Library Administration. As circumstances change, the collecting areas will be reevaluated and modified as appropriate. Current areas are listed below:

– Town vital records (Concentrated in Maine, but communities throughout New England are present)

– Local newspapers (Kept on microfilm with readers available)

– Family histories (Including journals, diaries, letters, and family trees)

– Cemetery records (Concentrated in Hancock County)

– Military records (Concentrated in Hancock County)

– Town reports (Concentrated on Ellsworth, but other area communities are included)

– Town, county, and state histories (Concentrated on Maine)

If an item falls outside of these areas, but is considered to be an essential work connected to the local community, it may be considered for inclusion at the discretion of the Special Collections Committee.

Selection Criteria
The library makes no attempt to be exhaustive with all of its Special Collections, though it is desirous of obtaining a well-rounded selection of useful and relevant materials for the community. The library does make an attempt to be exhaustive for all materials published in connection with Ellsworth’s history and people to extent that is reasonable and feasible for the library based on constraints such as, but not limited to: budget, space, staff, and time.

Materials are selected based on a variety of factors such as filling in a missing area in the collection, condition, and rarity. The following is a list of selection criteria considered when assessing donated items for addition to the Special Collections:

– Condition: An item’s condition has a significant impact on its usefulness and overall value. For this reason, materials in good or fine condition will receive precedence for addition over those in poor condition. However, if a material in poor condition is of significant rarity, it may be considered for inclusion at the discretion of the Special Collections Librarian and Library Administration pending their ability to mend or restore the item.

– Rarity: Items of unique production, such as a personal journal or self-published area history, will be included in the Special Collections. Items of mass manufacture (low rarity), but still relevant to the subject areas above, may still be included at the discretion of the Special Collections Librarian and Library Administration.

– Duplicate Copies: If the library should acquire duplicate copies of an item, and there is space available in a secure location, a second copy should be reserved in that secure location, in case of the event the copy in the collection falls into disrepair or disappears. If there is an excess of duplicates, one may be added to the General Collections for circulation at the discretion of Library Administration.

– Monetary Value: This is not a factor for inclusion in Special Collections at this time. Value would be assessed according to standards in the antiquarian book world, by other Institutions’ holdings, and is based on factors such as age and condition of the item.

– Local Author Publications: Works produced by local authors will be bound (if necessary), cataloged, and held in the library collection if the author provides the library with a copy of the work. The library attempts to collect monograph works written by area authors, but may only hold a copy in Special Collections if it is of substantial rarity.

Scope of Coverage
 Formats: Acceptable formats for acquisition include personal print items, monographs, maps, plans, and serials, as well as audiovisual materials in an accessible format.

 Language: English will be the predominant language of materials added to the Special Collections. However, special consideration will be given to non-English materials where image dominates text, or the work is of significant importance to the subject areas.

 Date of Publication: Collection will be collected across a range of publication dates from early works relevant to the history and development of a topic to works created in the present day.

– Chronological Coverage: (in terms of intellectual content, movements, or schools) : Materials will be collected which represent the entire span of history of a topic. Efforts will be made to collect contemporary works to keep the collection’s content current and comprehensive.

 Geographic Coverage: Materials will be collected on, in order of precedence, Ellsworth, Hancock County, and Maine. Special consideration will be given to geographical coverage related to materials that surround those areas if connections may be proven.

Collecting Methods
– Acquisitions Made Through Purchases: The Ellsworth Public Library may purchase items for inclusion in the Special Collections through designated or donated funds. Purchases must be approved by Library Administration.

– Acquisitions Made Through Gifts: The Ellsworth Public Library may include items in the Special Collections that were received as donations or dedicated gifts to the collection. Such items should be accompanied by a signed Deed of Gift form. The Library also reserves the right to deny gifts or donated items inclusion in the Special Collections based on the SelectionCriteria above, as well as other considerations such as space available, or librarian discretion. It should be noted that separate legal agreements for acquisitions may be entered into between the Board of Trustees of the Ellsworth Public Library and the donor of the item, under the stipulations of the City Charter referred to above.

In order to maintain quality library collections and to reserve enough free space for the acquisition of new materials, weeding of collections will be done. The library collaborates with the community in determining the usability and relevance of its collections. It is the responsibility of the Director andSpecial Collections Librarian to oversee all weeding and inventory activities of the Special Collections, which are done on an intermittent basis. Materials that are determined to be irrelevant, outdated, unused, in poor physical condition, or are superseded by newer editions are considered for removal from the collection. Removal of any item from the Special Collections must be approved by the Special Collections Committee.


Revised 3/25/2013 CEC
Adopted by the Board of Trustees