HARTLAND — John Clark will tell you there’s no better job in the world than being librarian at a small public library in a town where people value it.

“It’s not just a library — it’s a social hub,” he said. “People will come in and talk to you about things they wouldn’t tell a doctor or a lawyer or a priest.”

The impact that Clark, 67, has made over 10 years, not only at Hartland Public Library, but also on the community, was evident in the crowd that turned out Saturday to wish him well and welcome his successor, 26-year-old Nick Berry.

Saturday, Clark’s final day, it was standing room only as about 70 people packed the basement and lined the stairway at the library.

He will be a hard act to follow.

“John’s the best librarian I’ve ever known in any community I’ve lived in,” said Miranda Merrill, 33, who moved to Hartland, a town of about 1,700 in Somerset County, from Connecticut 12 years ago. “He’s very knowledgeable, and this library has a selection like no other. There’s a lot of variety, a lot of young adult books — that’s what I read normally — and if I want a book and they don’t have it, he’ll get it from another library.


“He’s going to be missed.”

Clark was not a teacher at a high school or college, but he certainly helped to educate people of all ages in the community, said Selectman Shirley Humphrey. She said he helped a youth who was close to dropping out of school stay in school, called people at home to let them know their books were in and recommended books he thought readers would enjoy.

“He has been so beneficial to our community, and we are so thankful to him,” Humphrey said. “We’re losing him as a librarian, but we’re not losing him as a very beneficial community person, because I know if someone calls John, he will be there to assist them.”

Clark took every opportunity to network with other libraries and readers to make sure the library had all the latest books and DVDs.

Merrill quickly became friends with Clark after moving to Hartland with her husband, Eric, 38. She is an avid reader who reviews books for publishing companies. She said she reads a book a day.

Soon after arriving in town, Clark had her reviewing books he was able to procure from the Maine State Library for $1 each as long as he sent a review back to the state library.


Clark’s wife, Beth, who is secretary of the library’s board of trustees, said her husband is a scrounger, collecting soda bottle caps to exchange them for books for the library, collecting books from people all over the country who want to get rid of them and spending countless hours on the computer, working to help the library.

Clark also sells donated or cast-off books the library does not use on Amazon to raise money for the library. Last year, he raised $4,400 by selling books. The library has 6,000 movies and television series on DVD.

“He goes to the dump — the people at the dump save him books,” Beth Clark said.

Resident Barbara Day said Clark did more than just run the library — he lent a hand to anyone who needed it.

“John wrote a grant to get the Hartland Consolidated Pool up and running,” said Day, a retired psychiatric nurse. “We got a $5,000 grant with his expertise in that particular area. A grant writer he is. A wordsmith he is. Any time John or Beth found out we needed something, they’d go out of their way to make sure the community children didn’t go without.”

Clark, who lives two blocks from the library, formerly was librarian at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library and helped set up and trouble-shoot library software for more than 100 Maine libraries at the Maine State Library. He has a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of South Carolina.


He writes fantasy and short mystery stories and is a regular poster on the Maine Crime Writers blog. He is treasurer of Maine Balsam Libraries consortium, a group of about 20 public and school libraries in central Maine.

Berry, the new librarian, is also a writer.

After Berry was interviewed by Clark for the librarian job, he wrote on his Facebook page that he thought he had just met an older version of himself.

Meanwhile Clark , after interviewing Berry, told a library trustee that he felt as if he had been talking to a younger version of himself.

Berry is originally from Livermore and is currently staying in Skowhegan, but plans to move to Hartland.

He graduated from the University of Maine in Farmington and holds a master of science in library and information science from Syracuse University.


“My goal is to make sure that Nick has as much freedom as possible and that I’m a resource,” Clark said Saturday. “That’s very important.”

Berry, meanwhile, said he has a lot to learn and Clark has been teaching him a lot.

“He set the bar high so it’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I think I’m up to it,” Berry said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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