Friend Memorial Public Library recently formalized the agreement to acquire a rare and extensive maritime research library, signing a Letter of Intent with the owner of the private collection, Jon Wilson, founder and former owner of the renowned WoodenBoat magazine and WoodenBoat School. The collection will add an additional 6,700 books, some rare and irreplaceable, to the library’s current holding of 20,000 books, documents, and other materials. 

Begun in 1970, the Maritime Research Collection is one of the nation’s most important private collections of materials related to wooden boat and ship design, construction, operation, and history. In addition to books, the collection also includes periodicals and reference works dating from the 1880s to the present containing technical information, design and construction plans, correspondence and biographies, and more. The books are fully-cataloged using a modified Library of Congress system.

According to Ed DePasqual, president of the library’s board of trustees, “We recognized a one-time opportunity to acquire one of the finest maritime libraries in the country. When Jon Wilson agreed to our request to donate his collection to our library and keep it in Brooklin, we at once began to incorporate it into our already developing plans for expansion.”

The town of Brooklin is widely known for boat design and building of both pleasure and commercial vessels. The collection, according to Wilson, “is an incomparable resource for understanding some of the very traditions of this town.” Pleased at the library’s request, Wilson says his intention has always been “to find a home for the collection that will preserve it and make it available for use.”

This extraordinary resource will enable Friend Memorial Public Library to play a crucial role in supporting the skills that continue to create jobs and opportunities in Brooklin. It also will extend the reach of the library to serve students, authors, researchers, visiting boat owners, and enthusiasts from around the world, and to position the library as a leading center for maritime research in the country.

Friend Memorial Public Library has launched a two-year campaign to raise $2.5 million to revitalize and expand the building and grounds, and to assist with long-term operating expenses. They hope to have the Maritime Research Center available to library users once its overall expansion is completed sometime in 2026. Architectural plans are presently in the concept stage and being produced by Elliott Architects, responsible for the library’s award-winning building expansion in 1998.