Reference Room

In The Library

Ask our Staff! We are trained professionals who take pleasure in doing our job. Please ask us and we will either get the information for you or point you in the direction to find it. WE ARE HERE FOR YOU, and WE ARE PERSISTENT!

Genealogy & Local History: We house local and state historical documents such as books, records, oral history recordings, and MDI Historical society periodicals that contain both circulating and non-circulating items.

Sawtelle Files: This is a collection of documents which record the much of the local family genealogy of Southwest Harbor and nearby towns.

Historic Photograph Collection: We are privileged to house an amazing collection of historic photographs donated to us by local photographers such as W.H. Ballard, Bryant Bradley, George A. Neal, and Henry L. Rand. An outstanding group of volunteers is creating a digital database that already houses over 2,500 images. They are adding more images every day. We have a computer dedicated solely historic photographs that patrons can use to search these images and order prints as well.


Digital Archive of the Southwest Harbor Public Library (
The Digital Archive is a new model for sharing local knowledge that is rooted in time and place letting people view the library's large collection of historic materials using data visualization, a technique that allows a user to view a database item, such as a photograph, while graphically seeing every other related item. Users can easily "connect the dots" by following relationships from one item to other items to discover stories they are interested in. Volunteers from all over the island have been working for more than twelve years, since 2004, to digitize and catalog the large collection of photographs given or shared with the library since about 1900.

Traditions & Records of Southwest Harbor and Somesville by Mrs. Seth S. Thornton
Digital Edition
50th Anniversary Edition published for the Southwest Harbor Public Library, by the Acadia Publishing Company, Bar Harbor, Maine, 1988. Nellie Carroll Thornton's wonderful history of the area was originally published in 1938. The online edition is searchable by any keyword of interest to you, such as a house or family name.

Marvel Database

Marvel! ( Maine’s Virtual Library - is a series of databases that are portals, provided by the state, to published material owned by commercial enterprises that offer access to magazines, newspapers, manuscripts etc. online. Some examples include the NY Times, Nature, ERIC, Masterfile Premier, and Novelist – a reader advisory website. These exclusive databases and paying online subscriptions are FREE to card-holding patrons. ( This is an online genealogy resource that Library patrons can logon to for FREE using a computer located in the library. Ancestry Library Edition is available ONLY from within at public library. There is NO access from home like other Marvel resources. Visit the Ancestry Library Edition Resources page from more information, or see the Key Differences Between and Ancestry Library Edition.

Bar Harbor Newspaper Archive (1881-1969) This is the Newspaper Archives of the Friends of Island History. Every newspaper in the database is fully searchable by keyword and date, making it easy to quickly explore historical content. Use the archive to gain a local perspective on historical news, to research your family history, or to simply read about a person or event of interest. Newspapers included are: Bar Harbor Times, Bar Harbor Record, and Bar Harbor Mount Desert Herald.

Maine: An Encyclopedia ( Since 2001 the Encyclopedia has evolved from a CD-ROM with several hundred articles and images; to a DVD with over a thousand articles, several thousand images, and some video clips; to the current version with more than . . . 1,760 articles, 5,000 resource citations, 4,800 images, 100 video clips, and thousands of internal links to related materials.