Library Column – Mt. Vernon Newsletter

Dr. Shaw Memorial Library 

Library Column, December 2017
“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer but a citizen instead.” Caitlin Moran
Thank you, to the workers constructing our addition, who cheerfully work through the cold (and sometimes rainy) days. They are capable and communicative and kind. Thank you, to the volunteers who have been scurrying to help us move materials out of the back rooms and relocate them in creative ways. And thank you, dear patrons, for your patience regarding parking and our slightly crowded library while we make our way through the building project.
While the project is ongoing, we cannot accept book donations for our former sale room. You can take your used books to the swap shop at the transfer station, or to Goodwill for the time being. We’ll let you know when we are set up again for donations. Thank you!
Our youngest patrons love seeing the mighty workers and their machinery. Consequently, our picture books on construction equipment have become very popular! We still have a few left on the table in the children’s room, please feel free to come check them out. For adults, I would recommend My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith – a romp through Italy while the main character tries to meet a deadline for writing a book, and instead of the rental car he thought he had scheduled, he winds up driving a bulldozer around the countryside to reach his destination.
We’ve started putting out some picture books about winter, including one of our favorite books of all time – Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day. The US Postal Service has just released a postage stamp with the image of the front cover from this book – run to the post office and grab some, they’re great!
Do you love cartography (and who doesn’t)? Try this website: This is sponsored by the Osher Map Library at USM. If your kids love maps, look at “mapPlay” under “Teacher Resources” on the site. There are some fun and informational activities there. They also host an annual map making contest! For those of you who prefer paper, we have University of Maine’s beautiful large volume from 2015, entitled Historical Atlas of Maine. And, to steer you off course a bit, you might be interested in David Cook’s Above the Gravel Bar, a study of the native canoe routes in Maine, along with how those intersected with geological developments and prehistoric native culture. No maps, but definitely of interest to cartographers and geographers and historians.
Library Column November 2017

“I think the book must be the most perfect object ever designed by humans.  Their physical beauty and how well they work – dayenu! – but then there is the way they often absorb their reader’s presence, too.  Tea, ink, greasy fingers, receipts, weather, but more than that, something of the spirit, too, so that years later you can take the book down off the shelf and a flash of your old self leaps out at you.”      Nicole Krauss

Many thanks to the Mt. Vernon Events Committee for once again putting together some Halloween activities downtown.  We’re happy to be a part of this, and it is wonderful to see so many parents & grandparents & children out and about.  Alice and some trusty volunteers put together craft projects and some treats for our young visitors.  Next up:  it seems that Alice will read a holiday book or two for our young citizens at the Mt. Vernon Community Center during the annual Christmas tree lighting.  You can check our Dr. Shaw Memorial Library Facebook page (or the Mt. Vernon Community Center fb page) for further information as the month progresses.

Our Can Due program will continue through this month.  We’ve had some generous patrons donate canned & boxed food, as well as some personal care items.  If it is easier, we also accept cash donations that we will pass along to the Mt. Vernon Food Bank.  A number of other libraries are now also running programs like this in their communities, we’re happy to see.  Another good way to participate in our community!  Meanwhile, the Mt. Vernon PTC is still collecting food labels to fund activities at school.  They keep a collection container on our desk at the library, so please save your labels & bring them to us next time you stop by.

If you need to start thinking about gifts for various loved ones, try visiting our book sale room.  We have lots of fiction and nonfiction available, both older and more recent titles.  You might find a few DVDs there, too.  Each year during the holidays, my extended family does a used book swap instead of a gift exchange and we all come back home with some great reads for the winter.  Come stock up and share your treasures with others!  Generally we ask for a donation of one dollar for a hardcover or trade paperback, and fifty cents for a mass market paperback (we’ve been known to make deals when people take home a bagful or two).

Our yearly reminder as winter approaches:  on bad weather days, please call the library during our regular hours to see if we are open, before you venture out on snowy/icy roads.  We try to get there, and Intrepid Alice has been known to trudge through the snow on foot to open for us, but it can’t always happen.  Give us a call!

Two of our newer picture books which are popular with our young patrons happen to be an alphabet book from Maine and a brand new counting book.  The illustrations in both books are so creative, and the stories are great.  Take a look at Beth Rand’s ABC Gulls, and Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood.  We are also slowly collecting some of the lovely board books that are being published now, and they are quite popular.  Keep those in mind for a nice bedtime or snack time read aloud with your babies and toddlers.

We may have mentioned the Canadian Broadcasting education site before.  It is worth a look, at  You can search by categories (animals, arts, geography, nature), and it also features videos and games.

I finally got around to reading Polacio’s heartwarming juvenile novel, Wonder.  I hear it will be coming out as a movie this month!  Next on my list is Matthew Quick’s latest novel, The Reason You’re Alive, about a Viet Nam war veteran.  And of course I want to read Louise Penny’s new release, Glass Houses, but I think I’ll let more of our patrons read it before I grab it.  What will you be reading now that you’ve canned up all the applesauce and are preparing for winter?

Library Column, October 2017

“Libraries are innately subversive institutions, born of the radical notion that every single member of society deserves free, high quality access to knowledge and culture.”
Dr. Matt Finch

Thanks to our stalwart volunteer, Betsy, we now have a laptop dedicated to our OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) set up in the main room again, after a year’s absence.  The computer opens automatically to the OPAC, and you can search our collection by title, author, or subject/keyword.  And of course, you can always ask us to help with finding materials, as usual.  Thanks, Betsy!

We like to feature a few cool informational websites for kids or adults now and then.  This month, we have two wonderful websites that are gateways into all sorts of educational sites on various subjects.  There is a wealth of material contained here!
1. American Library Association has an entire section called Great Websites for Kids.  You can access it at: .  They organize educational sites by subject, and many of the sites range from K-12 in the information they contain.  Math & computers, history, animals, the arts, science, social studies, they’ve got it all.
2. Ditto for the second site, called Exploratorium, sponsored by the Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception in San Francisco.  You can visit them here:  On the left side of the page, there is a list of subjects you can explore, and you can also search for videos and blogs besides websites.

We will start our annual Can Due program later this month.  If you recall, you can bring in food items (or a cash donation, if that is easier) and all of your accumulated guilt about overdue books magically disappears.  We pass all donations along to the Food Bank.  We might combine this with collecting hats and mittens, like we did last year, to help keep MVES students warm.  We’ll let you know, via our Facebook page, when we officially start collecting – but if you want to bring in some food or mittens now, we will gladly take them!

Because I just got home from volunteering at the Common Ground Country Fair, it seems like a good time to feature some agriculture and gardening books from Maine farmers.  We have four of Eliot Coleman’s books on winter harvesting and four season growing techniques.  All of his books give solid information on gardening, and might help with garden plans you devise over the winter.  All of his books are in the 635 section of our nonfiction collection.  Deb Soule, a wonderful and respected herbalist from the coast, wrote How to Move Like a Gardener, a practical and also somewhat contemplative work on planting medicinal herbs.  You can find her at 615.3 SOU upstairs.  We have Henry Beston’s Northern Farm (917.41), a collection of essays about living on his farm with his wife, poet Elizabeth Coatsworth, in Nobleboro.  His prose is beautiful, and can inspire you.  Finally, a recent addition to our agriculture books is Letters to a Young Farmer: on Food, Farming, and Our Future (630.9 LET).  This is a collection of letters from respected farming folks from across the country, including Eliot Coleman and Chellie Pingree from Maine, written about the importance of the work young farmers are undertaking.

And speaking of farming & gardening – if you saved any seeds from your garden this season, please share with us, to include in our Seed Exchange!

This week I brought home Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette’s Twelve Months of Monastery Soups from the library.  I always start the Fall season with potato leek soup, and this book seemed to be just right as we move towards cooler and longer nights.  Twelve months of soups that these monks get to enjoy!  Soup (and tea) get us through the winter.  The recipe for Garlic Soup, one of the possibilities for the month of March, looks wicked good.

The next fiction book on my list is Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network.  I do love fiction set in and around the two World Wars, and this one includes both.  What will you read as the trees let go of their leaves and the frost inevitably encroaches?



September 2017

“Don’t give up on books.  They feel so good – their friendly heft.  The sweet reluctance of their pages when you turn them with your sensitive fingertips.   A large part of our brains is devoted to deciding whether what our hands are touching is good or bad for us.  Any brain… knows books are good for us.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Many thanks to all who donated items to the school supplies drive.  Once again, we had a wonderful response from the community.  Trish Jackson has now delivered all of it to the Mt. Vernon elementary school, so the staff can have it on hand to parcel out to struggling students.  Keep in mind that the Mt. Vernon Food Bank generally has a stash of school supplies, so if you are in need of assistance, please drop by and talk with the volunteers there on a Saturday morning.  We might be collecting hats & mittens again for the students, within the next couple of months.  Thank you for the kindness you always show in helping to keep our youngest citizens moving forward.

When you borrow DVDs or audiobooks on CD, and have had difficulties with any of the discs, please let us know when you return the item.  You can leave a sticky note on it, or just mention it to us when you bring it in.  Usually it just requires a bit of cleaning, and we’d like to be able to correct the problem, if we can, before loaning out the material again.

Cheese and yogurt workshop, anyone?  Barbara Skapa is willing to do another workshop on making cheese & yogurt, if she hears there is enough interest.  We’ve had a few people sign up for a possible workshop, though we haven’t set a date yet.  If you would like to learn this skill, please sign up next time you are at the library, or give us a call.  There is a $50 fee for the workshop.  Once we have enough people, we’ll ask Barbara to set a date.

We still subscribe to the Maine State Library Downloadable Books project, which they now provide via Cloud Library.  There have been some issues regarding access to the Cloud, depending on the device being used, but they are working on it and we encourage patrons to let them know what doesn’t work.  You can go to the MSL website at and look for “Get Started with Ebooks” on the left hand side of the screen.  You can sign up as a patron of the Dr. Shaw Memorial Library and use the 4 digit number written in the upper right corner of your library card, rather than the long bar code we use to check out books to you.

Two websites to try:

There is a good genealogy website recommended by the genealogy specialist at MSL.  The site is at .  There you can search the list of ports of entry (Ellis Island, etc) as well as access information on vital records, the Holocaust, DNA, interactive maps, and more.

Families might be interested in an education website called Raising Dragons, at .  It is a good resource that combines activities and ideas around science, math, and art.  You can also like their Facebook page, entitled Raising Dragons – Activities for Kids.

We were able to squeeze in a few tech help sessions with our young volunteer Kaydee in August.  Please let us know if continuing this service would be helpful.  If you need help with your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone regarding social media, downloads, or other issues, please call us at 293-2565 and tell us what it is you need.  We are looking for a few volunteers who can help us put this together, and knowing the kinds of issues that are troublesome to folks would help us know what services to provide.

Carl Storm’s apple tree, planted in our dooryard a number of years ago in his memory, was absolutely laden with fruit this year!  We picked four bags of apples and gave them to patrons and families to take for snacks and lunches.  Last year we were able to share some with the Food Bank, since that is located at the Baptist church where he was minister – we’re not sure we’ll have enough to share this year, but we’ll be glad to send some along if we can!

Nonfiction books on harvesting and processing fruits and vegetables have been going out in recent weeks.  Paul Doiron’s mystery series is as popular as ever, and his latest, Knife Creek, never stays on the shelf for even an entire day.  I have started one of Octavia Butler’s rather dire science fiction novels, Parable of the Sower.  Her writing is superb.  What are you reading as we all enjoy the clear, chill air of the end of summer?

August 2017 

“Without access to the public library as a child, my world would have been smaller, and infinitely less rich.  All those riches, freely available, to everyone and anyone with a library card.  All children should be so lucky.”    Lesley Bryce, in Ali Smith’s Public Library and Other Stories

Our children’s summer programs are almost at a close, though Alice is pulling together one more Build a Better World activity for Wednesday, August 2nd.  Then, the wonderful Ruby Rubins has agreed to come read a book (about a service dog who doesn’t quite pass the test, but manages to save the day any number of times) and talk with the kids about service dogs on Wednesday, August 9th, at 4pm.  Ruby trains different types of service dogs, and will bring her wonderful canine companion, Ruthie, along for the program!  You may have seen Ruthie from time to time this summer at the library.  She is a quiet German Shepherd who loves to lay down next to you and she very much appreciates it if you pet her and scratch behind her ears!  Join us for a wonderful closing to our programs.  We want to thank the parents of our young patrons, and all of the volunteers, who help us with organizing, cleaning up, taking pictures, running a program, and supporting the kids as they put together their crafts and activities.  All of the adults involved definitely have honed their own skills to help build a better world, and are helping the children find their way!


We have lots of programs on the docket for August.  We hope you will join us for any or all of these activities:

Thursday, August 3, 7pm at the Mt. Vernon Community Center – our annual Community Poetry Reading.  We’ve been doing this for about 18 years now.  Bring a favorite poem or two, one from a beloved poet or one of your own, and share it with the rest of us.  We love the New England poets, of course, but we bring work of poets from around the world and from all ages.  If you don’t want to read, please just come to listen to your fellow community members’ voices.  We’ll have a couple of anthologies available, if you get there and decide you want to read after all.  As always, we’ll have some snacks and time for visiting at the end.


Thursday, August 10, 7pm at the Mt. Vernon Community Center – Stories from the Metroplex!  We’re trying something new, and co-sponsoring this with the MVCC folks.  Have you listened to some of the storytelling from “The Moth” on public radio?  We are hoping you will come and share odd bits of stories or writing (someone said she will come and share some very odd recipes she has) that you have run across.  They can be funny or sweet or puzzling, we’ll see what develops.  We ask that the stories are rated PG so it can be family-friendly.  So, come share a piece that will make us smile or shake our heads in wonderment.  Again, we’ll have snacks.


Monday, August 14 and Monday, August 21, 3-5pm at the library – Basic Technology 101 for Adults.  We will set up appointments (about a half-hour) on those afternoons, with our young volunteer, Kaydee Martin, who can sit down with you and help you set up email or download ebooks or create a facebook page, or learn how to text, on various devices.  Bring your cell phone, tablet or ipad, or laptop, and work with Kaydee for a bit to get you started on connecting with others via your device.  Please call the library in advance (293-2565) to set up an appointment – leave a message if you call when we aren’t open, and we’ll get back to you.  If this is something some of our elder community members find useful, we’ll try to have more tech learning opportunities in the future.


Saturday, August 19th, 10am-Noon – Annual Mushroom Walk with Barbara SkapaWe will start at the library parking lot.  Wear clothing suitable for hiking; bring a basket or bag, and a small knife for collecting mushrooms.  The walk may be local, or might involve a short car trip to get to another location.  In the event that it is necessary to cancel due to weather conditions we ask that you preregister for the walk by calling us at 293-2565.  Leave a message if we aren’t open, and we’ll sign you up.  Barbara asks that you give a donation for the walk, which she then gives to us.  We have some mushroom identification books, if you want to check one out!


Wednesday, August 30th, 7pm at the Vienna Grange Hall – “The White Lions of South Africa”.  The Grange is co-sponsoring this event with us, and it looks to be an interesting evening.  Ruby Rubins will show a brief (approximately ½ hr) film entitled “Return of the White Lion” and has pictures of her own time spent there to share with us.  She will talk about her experiences and will lead an open discussion and question & answer period.  We’ll have refreshments.  Join us at the Grange Hall at the end of the month to learn about this amazing topic!


In between setting up programs, doing a bit of weeding in the garden, and picking pie cherries from our tree (and chasing away the resident groundhog!), I’ve been reading a bit of poetry now and then – some of Mary Oliver’s work, William Blake, Naomi Shihab Nye, a few of Russell’s bits and pieces.  I’ve also been enjoying a great geeky book on libraries:  Wayne A. Wiegand’s Part of Our Lives:  a People’s History of the American Public Library.  I think the most popular title in our library collection this summer has been Maine author Paul Doiron’s latest mystery, Knife Creek.  Both of our copies have had long reserve lists on them, but they should be back on the shelves soon.  His series is captivating and well-paced, you might want to check it out.  What are you reading as the apples ripen on the trees?






Dr. Shaw Memorial Library                      July, 2017

 “The poet’s, the writer’s duty is to…help man endure by lifting his heart.”

William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech

Many thanks to Dona Seegers for leading the annual bird walk on a very stormy day!  Let’s hope our programming for the rest of the summer will happen under clear skies.

Thank you also for the volunteers who helped us set up for our rather impromptu book sale at the library on Memorial Day.  People helped us organize books, and baked goodies for hungry customers.  We had a really nice day, sold a lot of books, visited with wonderful people, and we all scrambled outside to watch the parade go by halfway through!  We won’t have our annual book sale in mid-July this year, but there are still plenty of books in the back room for sale.  Please come in and browse, and grab a few to take down to camp!

Alice, along with her various co-presenters, is busy putting the final touches on the Wednesday afternoon summer reading programs for our young patrons. We have the sign-up poster ready (with quite a few readers already listed, along with their reading goals!), and we have flyers with the particulars of each program sitting on the circulation desk.  The basic plan for our “Build a Better World” theme is:

July 5,  4pm:   learn about tropical rain forests, and building a small one to take home.

July 12, 4pm:  learn about common woodworking tools, and making a simple structure using nails, screws, sandpaper, washers, hand drills, glue, and other materials.  We ask that parents help the kids put this all together with us!

July 19, 4pm:  a couple of our young volunteers will do some interactive theatre around “The Three Little Pigs”, and then we’ll put together small cardboard houses to take home.

July 24, 4pm:  Alice and Linda will help us with two art projects – a dried flower collage and a skyline nightscape.

Then, coming up in August (whew, it’s busy in our communities in the summer, isn’t it!) is our annual Community Poetry Reading!  That will be at the Mt. Vernon Community Center, at 7pm on Thursday, August 3rd.  Bring a favorite poem or two to share with all of us, or just come to listen to others’ voices.  People share their own work, poems from beloved writers, some that make us laugh and some that take our breath away.  We’ll have a few anthologies there, if you are inspired to get up and read something to us.  We’ll share snacks and conversation at the end.

Save this date as well:  Thursday, August 10, at 7pm, also at the Mt. Vernon Community Center.  The folks at the MVCC are joining with us to co-sponsor our first-ever event we’re simply calling “Stories from the Metroplex”.  Anyone in the area is invited to share brief stories, musings, and odd or sweet or funny bits of writing they’ve come across.  Ideas for bits to share might include:  stories from your childhood, something you wrote for school and have kept over the years, passages from family correspondence, odd recipes, hopes for future adventures.  We’re sure there are many more examples of great storytelling to share which we haven’t named.  We ask that stories are appropriate for all age levels and are no longer than five minutes in length.  Please join us for storiesand snacks, of course (we seem to always have snacks) – at the Community Center!

Speaking of storytelling, here are a few websites you might want to check out:  Levar (former host of the beloved Reading Rainbow public TV show) reads short fiction aimed at adults, and it is getting good reviews.  Podcast or radio broadcast, you can hear all sorts of people sharing a variety of stories, it is becoming quite popular.  This one is from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and has been around for a while, also on podcast or radio.  People read bits of writing from their youth, on stage in front of an audience.  Their presentations can be serious or funny and sometimes rather awkward.

Meanwhile, Maine fiction continues to maintain quite a steady readership here.  Paul Doiron’s mysteries are wicked popular, and his latest title, Knife Creek, has quite a waiting list.  Definitely check him out, as well as Gerry Boyle, Kate Flora, Woody Hanstein, and Sarah Graves, if you think you might like Maine mysteries.  I just finished Tracy Chevalier’s short novel, New Boy, a modern retelling of Othello; and The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan, about a woman whose life is now in the US but goes back to Tehran to visit her aging father.  What are you reading or listening to during this beautiful midsummer? 

Dr. Shaw Memorial Library

June, 2017

“I take refuge in my books.”    Julia Ward Howe

Build a better world!  Alice has been working diligently with teachers and parents and various other creative folks to put together a plan for our summer reading program.  We might change things up a bit as we go, but the basic outline is in place. This year’s theme is Build a Better World.  The programs will be held Wednesday afternoons at 4pm, starting the first week of July.  The schedule looks like this:

Wednesday, July 5, 4pm:  Learn about the layers in a tropical rain forest and build your own rainforest in a box!  This art project will include using an assortment of materials.

Wednesday, July 12, 4pm:  Learn about a variety of common woodworking tools, and then make your own structure using nails, screws, sandpaper, washers, hand drill, glue, and a variety of other materials – explore and create!  Parents are encouraged to stay and assist with this hands-on activity.

Wednesday, July 19, 4pm:  Teen volunteers Claire and Kusha will prepare and present an interactive puppet play of “The Three Little Pigs”.  Children will then build a house using manipulative toys and also make and take their own cardboard house.

Wednesday, July 24, 4pm:  Alice and Linda will assist children in two art projects – a dried flower collage which will make a lovely framed souvenir, and a skyline nightscape.  We’ll try to find just the right accompanying story!

We hope you and your children can join us – it is always a fun, active afternoon of play and it’s a great chance to spend precious time with friends!

Also coming right up is the Annual Bird Walk!  Dona Seegers will be ready to take us around Mt. Vernon village for some birdwatching on Monday, June 19th.  She’ll meet you in the parking area at the library at 4pm.  Remember to bring a pair of binoculars if you have one, and wear comfortable shoes and clothing that will protect you from those pesky black flies and mosquitoes.  We’ll have some of our bird identification guidebooks on display that week, if you want to refresh your memory a bit!  And remember, you can spend some time on Cornell’s webpage about bird identification and birdsong, too:   Hover over “All about birds” along the top, and click on “Bird Academy” in the dropdown box.

We’re still plotting and scheming about other programming, and will let you know what we come up with next.  The annual Community Poetry Reading will happen in early August as usual, and we’ll set a definite date next month.

As we head towards summer, we’ll have some of next year’s KVBA and MSBA books on the mantel in the children’s room so our younger patrons don’t have to wait till the next school year to start on their reading list.  One of Steve Jenkins’ fantastic nonfiction animal books is on the list – he’s a favorite author for many of us!

I tend to like somewhat calm and genteel books at the end of the day.  I’ve been reading my way through the Miss Dimple cozy mystery series by Mignon F. Ballard.  They are set in the small town of Elderberry, Georgia during WWII, and the mysteries are solved by a group of teachers (and their good friend, the town librarian!).  I also just finished the latest novel by Roland Merullo (author of Breakfast With Buddha), entitled the Delight of Being Ordinary.  The current pope and the Dalai Lama, and the pope’s cousin Paolo – and his former wife Rosa, who manages to arrange for their needs – go on a four day road trip, incognito, to get away from their very public lives and to seek some spiritual guidance.  Gentle shenanigans ensue, and their time together is funny, sweet, and thoughtful.  What are you reading while the orchards are in bloom and the newly planted calendula seeds sprout green stems and tiny leaves up above the soil?



May 2017      Dr. Shaw Memorial Library

“But when books are opened you discover that you have wings.”   Helen Hayes

We will have our annual Bird Walk around the village on Monday, June 12, at 3:30pm, led by the incomparable Dona Seegers.  Meanwhile, we have some great bird identification guides in the 598 section of our nonfiction collection.  You may remember that our favorite birding website is the Cornell University’s page: .  At that site, they also review various phone apps for identifying birdsong.  For that, go here: .

Last summer, with lots of help from Len Roe and Dan Hamilton, we placed a little neighborhood library at the corner of Wings Mills Road and Bartlett Road, in front of The People’s Bookshop.  Dan keeps it well-stocked.  Unbeknownst to us, the latch on the little door was stuck for a good part of the winter, but it is working again, so the folks at that end of town can now stop by and grab a few books whenever they have a chance.  The other two little libraries are located on Demariano Road (stocked by the Roe’s), and at the far end of the Belgrade Road (stocked by the Jacksons), right before you turn onto Castle Island Road.  Many thanks to all of the good-hearted booklovers for building and stocking these miniature treasure troves.

We have often worked with Barbara Skapa on providing cheesemaking workshops over the years.  If you would like to attend a session, please talk to us, and when we have enough people interested, we’ll schedule a day with Barbara.  You can visit the library to let us know, or leave us a message at 293-2565, or email us at .  We’ll get back to you.

Our Maine fiction collection continues to grab the attention of many of our patrons.  Perennial favorites are Gerry Boyle’s mysteries; Monica Wood’s and Elizabeth Strout’s beautiful novels that feature strong and sometimes tough characters; and some of the older books by Elizabeth Ogilvie (set along the Maine coast).  Some other good ones to keep in mind are Earl H. Smith’s books – Head of Falls, set in Waterville in the 1950s, is currently popular;  Bruce Robert Coffin’s mystery Among the Shadows; and Jon Keller’s Of Sea and Cloud.  We also just got Ron Currie’s One-Eyed Man, which has gotten lots of press.  We have the new Stephen King book, Hearts in Suspension – nonfiction, for the most part – a collection of essays by him and others, as well as a novella.  It is circulating right now, but you can ask us to put you on the reserves list.  We hope we’ll soon have the new Elizabeth Strout novel, Anything Is Possible.

One last Maine resource:  we now have the brief (1/2 hour) video entitled “From Stump to Ship, a 1930 Logging Film”, narrated by Tim Sample.  It is comprised of old black and white clips of the year-round work of a coastal logging company.  It was originally produced as a silent motion picture, and was then reworked as a project by UMaine & the Maine Humanities Council.

If you follow our Facebook page, you know that we have received some new packets of various veggie and flower seeds for our exchange.  Apparently some branches of the National Honor Society have been putting together combinations of seed packets, and we have been a recipient of a few of them!  What a wonderful idea!  And some of our area gardeners have donated their own seeds, or partial packets of varieties they have left over from planting seeds from Fedco, Johnny’s, and other providers.  We are so grateful to everyone.  Rhonda Marquis’ calendula and parsnip seeds from her garden are always popular.  Stop by to share some seeds, or take some home.

I am reading a few geeky books about libraries from my own shelves at home.  The one I’ve just now started is by Wiegand, and is entitled Part of Our Lives: a People’s History of the American Public Library.  I’ve also borrowed a new Eva Gates cozy mystery from the library, called By Book or by Crook, about a woman who becomes a special collections librarian on the Outer Banks, and the murder and mayhem that ensues.  What will you be reading as you plant your garden and listen to the peepers and loons?


April  2017

Build a Better World – we are still plotting and planning this summer’s reading program for our young patrons.  In order to free up possible long weekends for families, we are thinking of switching our programs to Wednesday afternoons (rather than Mondays), at the usual 4:00 starting time.  We’d love to hear suggestions from families about what time works best, and we’ll see what we can manage.

Meanwhile, a bit of family read-aloud time before bed is a perfect ending to a hectic day.  We’ve got our picture books about Spring out on the table in the children’s room, and there is so much great juvenile fiction on the mantel.  We have a new copy of Henry Beston & Elizabeth Coatsworth’s Chimney Farm Bedtime Stories, donated to us from the wonderful Gulf of Maine Bookstore in Brunswick – that is a perfect choice for the end of the day!

People have been enjoying looking through the old books from Dr. and Mrs. Shaw’s personal library (both their medical and household collections), and we’ve gotten quite a few donations of more recent books, fiction and nonfiction.  Please feel free to come in and browse and bring a few items home with you.  We are asking $1.00 for hardcover books, and $.50 for paperbacks.  This is a good way to expand your own home library, restock the shelves upta camp, or simply to pass along to friends and family members.

We’ll be collecting food labels for a while more, to give to the Mt. Vernon Elementary School PTC, to raise money for school activities.  There’s a container at the front desk, please save your labels and give them to us or bring them to school!

Websites to explore this month:
1.  Maine Memory Network is an online museum of various historical artifacts from our state.  I was exploring it the other day, looking for information about Joshua Chamberlain (Civil War hero, governor, and president of Bowdoin College) for someone. There were great photos and an image of a telegram he had written, among other items.  You can visit the Network at:

2.  MainePublic’s new feature, Poems From Here, put together by our state Poet Laureate, Stuart Kestenbaum.  Listening to him read the work of various Maine poets is a great way to end the week!  He has a new recording each Friday.

3.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art puts the full text of many of its art books online.  A nice way to lose yourself on a cold or stormy day:

  1. There are many colleges & universities who are offering free classes, and other learning resources, online these days. Here are two websites that can get you started:
  2. And lastly, spring and summer are coming (fingers crossed), so you might want to do a bit of planning for summer outings. Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands lets you search for various state parks and monuments that would make wonderful destinations.  Access their information here:

We’re hearing from lots of people that they have started seedlings, and are planning their gardens (don’t forget the old adage:  plant peas on Patriot’s Day! – depending on how much snow we still have, of course…).  We’re still looking for seed donations for our exchange, and remember we have a great collection of gardening books to inspire and inform you.  That makes me want to revisit Katharine White’s lovely book of essays from my home library, Onward and Upward in the Garden.  What will you be reading as the sap runs and we contend with mud season?


Library Column March 2017

“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”

Henry Ward Beecher

We are a member of the Maine State Library Downloadable Books project, formerly known as Overdrive, which allows our patrons to access a lending collection of e-books and downloadable audiobooks.  That project is moving to a new platform called Cloud Library (or Bibliotecha) as of Wednesday, March 1st.  probably the easiest way to get the information you need to get started will be to visit:    There is good information on how to switch from Overdrive to Cloud Library at this website connected to the Maine State Library:   The new platform has phone apps, and will be accessible via many personal electronic devices, though it won’t work with a Kindle Paperwhites.  The apps will be more user friendly, and users will be able to borrow three books at a time, for a loan period of three weeks.  Once it is up and running, it should provide better access to e-books than has been available in the past.

The name of this year’s Summer Reading Program for our young patrons is “Build a Better World”.  An open theme like that gives us lots of possibilities to explore.  We are brainstorming about programs and timing, and hope to share our ideas soon!  Meanwhile, we are seeing families checking out stacks of books to read aloud together, and that is precisely what the doctor ordered.  Maine physicians write prescriptions these days for their young patrons, to read for health and well-being and early childhood literacy, and the medical community supports the statewide effort of the Raising Readers organization.   Their website is:   (and they even have a Facebook page).  We have 7 of their anthologies of beloved children’s books (lots of Maine authors!) on our shelves, and of course we have plenty of beautiful, sweet, hilarious picture books in our children’s room.  They are that magical combination of gorgeous, heartfelt art and well-crafted prose – each book is a treasure you can hold in your hands and share with your loved ones.

The PTC group at Mt. Vernon Elementary is collecting food & soup labels for education.  We have a container for labels on the desk at the library, please save your labels and bring them along next time you visit us!

Our movie and TV series collection is quite popular these days.  If you have any recommendations for us, we’ll be glad to keep them in mind!  Recent additions to the DVD collection which are circulating regularly are “A Man Called Ove” (based on the beautiful novel by Fredrik Backman), “Manchester By the Sea”, and the latest Tom Hanks movie entitled “Sully” – about airline pilot Captain Sullenberger safely landing a disabled passenger plane on the Hudson River.  Popular TV series are “Leverage”, “The Newsroom”, “Warehouse 13”, and “Parks & Rec”.  All DVDs can be checked out for two weeks, just like all of our lending materials.

Remember we always have plenty of gently used books for sale, both fiction and nonfiction, in our back room.  We still have some of Dr. and Mrs. Shaw’s home library for sale, people have enjoyed browsing through those books and taking home a title or two.

I’ve been reading a wonderful novel by Jennifer Ryan, the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, a quiet story about a small English village at the early stages of World War II, told through letters and journal entries of various characters (mostly members of the choir).  I’ll get it to the library in a couple of weeks and catalog it, I think it will have a solid readership.  What are you reading, as we get a small break from our snowy February?
Library Column December 2016
“Libraries can definitely lead you astray, in the best possible way.”
Clare Jennings, from Ali Smith’s Public Libraries and other stories
We are in the beginning stages of sharing information on energy efficiency and climate change, based on some brief conversations with community members, and on this New York Times article about a village in the UK that has been working together on energy issues for years: . We’ve put up an exhibit-in-progress of articles and ideas regarding what we might be able to do about energy efficiency on the wall in our main room. Please come take a look and add some of your own ideas to share. We will be talking more with people and hope to host a brainstorming session or two later this winter. Meanwhile, we have an entire issue of a li-brary review journal devoted to sustainability, so we are paging through that and plan to update our collection with new re-sources on solar and alternative energies.
Alice will read a story at the annual Tree Lighting downtown Mt. Vernon, coming right up on December 3rd, Saturday, at 6:30. Bring your kids down to the village to spend time with our town librarian and enjoy the rest of the festivities! Our holiday and winter picture books are already being checked out at a pretty good clip. We’ll try to keep some on the table in the children’s room for quick access, and for reading aloud to your kids while sitting in the comfy chairs right here at the library.
There is a local knit and crochet group which meets at the library every Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm. It is an informal, relaxed gathering of people with all levels of experience, and they welcome new people and are pleased to teach the crafts to any new-comers. If you have questions, please call Pat Rawson at 293-2597.
To support the burgeoning interest in knitting or crocheting, there was a nice blog piece recently on the health benefits of knitting: . Here is a small sampling of the knitting book selec-tion we have in the 746 (textile arts) section of our collection:
Hatitude, Cathy Caron, 746.3 CAR Sweater 101, Cheryl Brunette, 746.3 BRU Love to Knit, Bronwyn Lowenthal, 746.43 LOW Easy Knitted Accessories, Jeanette Trotman, 746.3 TRO Fearless Knitting Workbook, Jennifer E. Seiffert, 746.3 SEI
We also have fiction that centers around knitting, mostly by Debbie Macomber and Kate Jacobs, which might be fun to try.
I just started reading We Are Water, one of Wally Lamb’s novels from a few years back. What are you reading, when you finally sit down by the fire with a cup of tea? And here is a small poem about December, to end this day:
“I heard a bird sing In the dark of December A magical thing And sweet to remember.
‘We are nearer to Spring Than we were in September,’ I heard a bird sing In the dark of December.” – Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

November 2016

“Libraries can definitely lead you astray, in the best possible way.” Clare Jennings, from Ali Smith’s Public Libraries and other stories We are in the beginning stages of sharing information on energy efficiency and climate change, based on some brief conversations with community members, and on this New York Times article about a village in the UK that has been working together on energy issues for years: -own-patch.html . We’ve put up an exhibit-in-progress of articles and ideas regarding what we might be able to do about energy efficiency on the wall in our main room. Please come take a look and add some of your own ideas to share. We will be talking more with people and hope to host a brainstorming session or two later this winter. Meanwhile, we have an entire issue of a library review journal devoted to sustainability, so we are paging through that and plan to update our collection with new resources on solar and alternative energies. Alice will read a story at the annual Tree Lighting downtown Mt. Vernon, coming right up on December 3rd, Saturday, at 6:30. Bring your kids down to the village to spend time with our town librarian and enjoy the rest of the festivities! Our holiday and winter picture books are already being checked out at a pretty good clip. We’ll try to keep some on the table in the children’s room for quick access, and for reading aloud to your kids while sitting in the comfy chairs right here at the library. There is a local knit and crochet group which meets at the library every Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm. It is an informal, relaxed gathering of people with all levels of experience, and they welcome new people and are pleased to teach the crafts to any newcomers. If you have questions, please call Pat Rawson at 293-2597. To support the burgeoning interest in knitting or crocheting, there was a nice blog piece recently on the health benefits of knitting: . Here is a small sampling of the knitting book selection we have in the 746 (textile arts) section of our collection: Hatitude, Cathy Caron, 746.3 CAR Sweater 101, Cheryl Brunette, 746.3 BRU Love to Knit, Bronwyn Lowenthal, 746.43 LOW Easy Knitted Accessories, Jeanette Trotman, 746.3 TRO Fearless Knitting Workbook, Jennifer E. Seiffert, 746.3 SEI We also have fiction that centers around knitting, mostly by Debbie Macomber and Kate Jacobs, which might be fun to try. I just started reading We Are Water, one of Wally Lamb’s novels from a few years back. What are you reading, when you finally sit down by the fire with a cup of tea? And here is a small poem about December, to end this day: “I heard a bird sing In the dark of December A magical thing And sweet to remember. ‘We are nearer to Spring Than we were in September,’ I heard a bird sing In the dark of December.” – Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing.

Library Column October 2016

“When a library is open, no matter its size or shape, democracy is open, too.” Bill Moyers There is so much in our community for which we can be thankful. We have been a drop-off site, this fall, for both school supplies and warm hats and mittens for children at the elementary school. People have donated hand-knitted and boughten items, and a group of parents, after their own clothing exchange, donated some lightly used jackets. Our school board members were so happy! Also, we are still running our Can Due program (thanks to those who have already donated!), and will continue collecting food and personal care goods throughout this month. Please know that each canned or boxed item, or a dollar in the jar on the desk, helps our fellow community members as we head into the cold and dark of winter. We have been shifting parts of the fiction collection, trying to make room for new titles. Let us know if you have trouble finding favorite authors, and we’ll help track the books down. One of the parts of the collection which is squeezed tight is the Maine fiction section in the main room. It is so popular that we’ve been adding authors and titles, so that we’ve overgrown our space. When you think about it, that is a nice problem to have! This month’s featured online site is the You Tube channel, “Smarter Every Day”. You can access it at this URL: There is a lot of science and engineering, from designing a new kind of magnet to making a “backwards bike” and learning how to ride it. Often the host considers some pretty zany things to do, but it is always about how to think about what we put together and how to use that information to build knowledge. I just finished Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, a difficult and elegantly written novel which has gotten great reviews and is on the 2016 short list for the National Book Award. Now I’ve picked up Mary Oliver’s new book of essays, entitled Upstream. After you’ve stoked the fire and steeped a cup of tea, what will you be reading? Submitted by Alice Olson and Mary Anne Libby

Library Column September 2016

“The library is not just the House of Knowledge. It is the House of Dreams.” Joe Queenan We had 25 children sign up for summer reading. They each kept track of what they read by counting pages, or number of books, or how many minutes they read (or were read to!). We hope the school-age children share their lists with their classroom teachers, or with the school librarian! They seemed to like the simple reading prizes we offered. One young fellow chose a little blow-up soccer ball, which he gently rolled around the children’s room while his sister and mother gathered a stack of books to check out. As usual, Flying Pond Variety provided certificates for ice cream & frozen treats at the start of the program – we are grateful! The KVBA books for elementary school readers are slowly making their way to the school library, for use during the winter months. We will have our MSBA books, aimed at middle school readers, on the mantel in the children’s room throughout the school year. A couple of titles from the very popular “I Survived” series are on the MSBA list, they’ve been going out quite regularly. Have you been saving seeds from your (probably rather parched) garden this summer? We’d love it if you shared some with us for our Seed Exchange! We are looking for any garden vegetable or flower seeds. Just put some into individual small envelopes, label the packet with the name of the variety and the date, and leave them with us. People love looking through our small collection and appreciate being able to take a few packets home to start in their gardens. We are dreaming and thinking about programming for this fall and winter. If you have some ideas for programs, talks, activities you’d like to see happen, please let us know and we’ll add them to our wish list. We like to share some of the websites we have bookmarked, in case you might find them useful. This month, our list includes: *The Legacy Project: — This site promotes history and connection across generations, and helps you start your own family or community history or dream project. *Maine Memory Network: — This is maintained by the Maine Historical Society, and includes a database of historical documents from all across the state. *Maine Underground RailRoad sites: brandID=UNDERGROUND_RR&init=45.201,-69.2257,7&tlist=UNDERGROUND_RR, — a map of verified underground railroad sites in the state. *Maine Encyclopedia: — A searchable site which covers history, government, recreation, environment, and more for our state. *Kennebec Highland Trails: – We’ve posted this one before. Includes narrative descriptions of trails up French Mountain, Mt. Phillip, Sanders Hill, and Roundtop. *Atlas Obscura: — Wonderful descriptions and pictures from destinations around the world (I just looked up Fort Knox, in Maine), with neat facts sprinkled along the way. *Maine book lists: — Lists of books set in Maine (you can also hit a link to Maine Writers Index), both fiction and nonfiction, children’s books and adults. There, that should be enough for a while. I’ve been reading Alice Christensen’s Easy Does It Yoga from our collection (and even practicing some of it!), and just finished Ann Hood’s (author of The Obituary Writer) most recent novel, entitled the Book That Matters Most. The main character is a new member of a book group at her local library, but is also searching for the author of a book connected to her difficult childhood. What are you reading as the days shorten and we stack firewood?

Library Column August 2016

“I have always imagined that paradise will be kind of a library.”  Jorges Luis Borges

We had a lot of fun with our children’s summer programs this year:  hula hoops, yoga, making healthy snacks, bubbles – how can you get better than that?  Many thanks to our volunteer helpers, Alycia and Cora and Kusha, to the parents & grandparents who always pitch in, and to all of our presenters:  Leah, Karen & Megan, and Linda.  And as always, Alice pulled everything together.

We had more volunteers to help with the book sale than we’ve ever had in the past, from Vienna, Mt. Vernon, Fayette, and summer folks.  Once again, everyone worked fast and efficiently on a couple of very hot days; that’s a good thing, because we had so many books this year.  The sale was very successful, and the donations will help us furnish the new addition with shelves or tables.  We get to hang out with some pretty amazing people.

Our two last annual summer programs are coming up in August.  On Thursday, August 11 at 7pm, at the Mt. Vernon Community Center, we’ll have our annual Community Poetry Reading.  Bring a favorite poem or two to share. There will be a few anthologies on the table in case you come simply to listen, and are suddenly inspired to read a poem to us.  We’ll have lemonade and a few snacks, as usual.  It is always a beautiful evening.

Barbara Skapa has scheduled the annual Mushroom Walk for Saturday, August 20, starting at 10am in the library parking lot.  She might take us around the village, or we might wind up carpooling to some other spot in Mt. Vernon.  Wear comfortable outdoor clothing suitable for the weather, and bring a small knife and bag or basket for collecting.  This year, we ask that you pre-register for the walk, so we can notify you if Barbara has to cancel due to the dry weather.  You can register by calling us at 293-2565, emailing us at, or sending us a Facebook message.  Please leave us your name and phone number.  Usually Barbara asks for a small donation from participants, which she kindly gives to the library.

School will start at the end of August, and most of our KVBA books will go to the elementary school for use over the winter.  It is a great list of books this year, and they’ve been circulating constantly.  We hope our young patrons are enjoying them!

For the next few months, as we get ready for construction, we will not be able to accept many book donations.  We will keep a shelf of donated books so the folks who run the various Little Free Libraries around town can replenish their shelves, but we won’t have space for anything more.  We can accept current, popular fiction (hardcover or paperback) and a few children’s books if they are in great shape, but if you have boxes and bags of books, please take them to the swap shop at the transfer station, or to Goodwill, for the next few months.  Thank you!

Speaking of Little Free Libraries:  there are now three in town!  We’ll be posting pictures of them on our Facebook page and on our website.  For the past couple of years, the Roe’s have managed one on DeMariano Road, and the Jackson’s have had one near the Rome town line.  Over the winter, Len Roe built a beautiful one for us, and Dan Hamilton (The People’s Book Shop on the corner of Wings Mills Road and Bartlett Road) volunteered to keep that one for us!  If we don’t have a title that appeals to you in the Little Free Library, you can always go into the shop and buy something from their well-stocked shelves.  The people who manage the LFLs stock them from our book donations, from Goodwill, and from a host of other places, including their own household collections.  We are grateful to them for extending reading opportunities out into the community.

I am reading The Anthologist, by Maine author Nicholson Baker.  It is about life and poetry from the point of view of a young, quirky, introspective narrator who happens to have writer’s block and keeps getting sidetracked from his writing by his observations on life in general.  What are you reading when you aren’t picking beans, stacking wood, or swimming?

Library Column July 2016

“Singing… has much to do with your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”   Aretha Franklin

We are getting a good start to our summer reading program.  Our wonderful young patrons have started signing up to register their reading goals (number of pages or books or minutes – whatever works for each child!)  Here is the schedule of programming:

July 2, Saturday, 10AM:  Yoga with Leah Hayes
July 11, Monday, 4PM:    Bonnets, Bubbles, & Baseball Caps, with Alice
July 18, Monday, 4PM:    Create (& eat) your own healthy snacks, with Linda Smith & Alice

July 25, Monday, 4PM:    Make & decorate hula hoops (and play!) with Karen & Megan Woodcock (if you have a hula hoop at home, bring it along to decorate!)

Further Events:

Annual Book Sale at 9AM, Saturday, July 16 (NOT the 23rd, as I had mentioned last month, sorry about that) at the Community Center.  Let us know if you can volunteer on Friday afternoon (the 15th) or Saturday afternoon, to help with set up & breakdown.  Take home bags and bags of books to get you through the summer, and chat with fellow community members!

Annual Community Poetry Reading is coming up.  We’ve changed the date on this because I am out of town.  We’ll now hold it at the Community Center on Thursday, August 11 at 7PM.  Bring a poem or two from your favorite poet, or one of your own, and recite or read it to the rest of us.  We’ll have lemonade and a bit of fruit and baked goodies!  This is one of my favorite evenings of each summer.

Young patrons have started checking out the new KVBA books.  We have our own collection, and Mt. Vernon School loaned us their copies for the summer, also.  There are some great titles again this year!  We should have some of the MSBA books available in a few weeks, for our middle-school readers.

We like to feature various parts of the library collection from time to time.  This month, it is music – specifically, songbooks.  Singing together is a perfect activity for summer, when you are sitting together under the old maple (or down at the town beach), or while you travel in the car – or while you are all weeding the garden.  Music brings us together, it is healing and it strengthens & supports us – something we can offer to each other and give back to the loons and songbirds who serenade us throughout these glorious months.

We have a number of songbooks in the children’s room, such as:  The Children’s Songbook, Crocodile Smile, The Funny Songbook, and Go In and Out the Window.  In the adult nonfiction section, we have The Reader’s Digest Popular Songs That Will Live Forever (782.42 REA).  We also have my favorite – Rise Up Singing: The Group-Singing Songbook (782.42 RIS).  My own copy at home is worn and falling apart.  Thank goodness the library copy is in great shape.  It includes lyrics and chords for beloved traditional music from all the bits & pieces of life:  childhood, work, folk, travel, home, struggle, and more.  You can spend many evenings together, paging through the book and singing a verse or two.  And at the end, you can finish with a lullaby – maybe Gordon Bok’s “Isle au Haut Lullabye”.

“Sleep where the wind is warm, and the moon is high”…

I’m just starting The Radical King: Martin Luther King, Jr..  What are you reading this midsummer, as you pick what the garden offers?

Library Column May 2016

“The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are:  1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the last date shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.”

Terry Pratchett, in Guards! Guards!

 Our annual Bird Walk is coming right up!  We’ll meet in the library parking lot on Monday, May 16, at 4pm.  Linda Smith & Dona Seegers will once again lead the way as we venture around the village, watching the sky, the trees, the water for signs of our winged friends.  Bring a friend or family member, binoculars if you have some, and pen & paper (or a smartphone) if you want to keep a list of what we see.  We have spotted some amazing birds over the years.  We hope you can join us for this lovely afternoon walk.

We are excited about starting our library addition in the fall of 2016. There is lots of planning yet to do.  It will be necessary to relocate for a few months while the builders work.  We will only be able to move a small percentage of our materials and resources, and are contemplating what might work.  We would like to hear from you about which collections, resources, and services you rely on the most (new fiction, audiobooks, DVD’s, computers, particular categories of nonfiction, etc).  A survey will soon be available for you to respond to when you come to the library, but any feedback on this would be most welcome.  Feel free to speak to staff, or make a suggestion via email, at .  Thanks for any ideas you share with us!

Don’t forget, our website is now up and running.  We keep playing with it, and our finding our way.  You can find quite a few resources linked there.  Visit us at  And follow our Facebook page, Dr. Shaw Memorial Library, for current info and bits of news.

The topic this week among the wonderful librarians around the state has been:  alphabet picture books!  Over the years, this genre has gotten quite creative.  We have alphabet books based on geography, poetry, the environment, food, art, and other bits & pieces of life.  They are engaging stories, and introduce a child to the building blocks of language, writing, reading, thought, and knowledge.  We’ll put out a display of some splendid alphabet books on the table in the children’s room, but meanwhile, here are a few great titles you might want to consider:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin (one of our favorites)

123 Versus ABC, by Mike Boldt (letters and numbers!)

ABC of Cars & Trucks, by Anne Alexander

The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus letter, Z!, by Steve Martin

G is for Goat, by Patricia Polacco (popular author at our library)

A is for Musk Ox, by Erin Cabatingan

L is for Lobster: a Maine Alphabet, by Cynthia Reynolds

Sign Language ABC, by Lora Heller

Twenty-Six Pirates, by Dave Horowitz (book lists should include pirates whenever possible)

Under the Sea from A to Z, by Anne Doubilet (ocean life & the alphabet!)

Z Is for Moose, by Kelly L. Bingham (goofy fun)

Summer (okay, middle of spring) is a busy time of year, it calls us outside to tend to all sorts of projects.  Remember, we have lots of gardening books (including Maine author Will Bonsall’s new title, Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening) and wildlife identification guides for your outdoor needs.  Meanwhile, at the end of the day of moving soil and planting seeds, you might need to just settle in and relax. Our DVD collection is quite popular, and one part of it that circulates a lot is the various TV series we have.  Some that our patrons really like are:

“Leverage” (great relationships between characters, lots of action without much violence)

“Parks and Rec” (people like to re-watch this one, it’s quite fun)

“Downton Abbey” (of course!)

“Warehouse 13” (some magical realism, good character interactions)

“News Room” (goes from awkward to funny to quite serious in a nanosecond)

“Hamish Macbeth” (BBC, police chief in Scotland trying to keep the peace)

“VEEP” (Tim Simons.  Enough said.)

“Sherlock” (Benedict Cumberbatch.  Ditto)

I am about to start a new nonfiction title we just got, Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren.  It was featured on NPR a while back, and seems to be a mix of cool writing about plants along with personal narrative.  What are you reading (or watching, or listening to) at the end of the day?

Library Column April 2016

“A library is a place vibrating with ideas.”

Nancy Kunhardt Lodge

We are planning our upcoming summer reading program.  The theme this year is:  “On Your Mark, Get Set, READ!”  It is designed to support and promote the passion for play – and reading is always an important part of imaginative play.  We’re thinking:  dance or yoga and games, hula hoops, movement of all kinds.  Maybe some music, gardening.  And of course – plenty of stories and books!

It looks like the annual Bird Walk will be back on the docket.  We are talking with our two lead birders, and once we come up with a definite date, we’ll let you know more.

Thank you to our wonderful tax gurus for once again helping so many of us in the surrounding community with our income tax paperwork!  Yet again we had quite a waiting list, and David found a way to fit in a few extra people here and there.  This is such a wonderful service offered to our citizens.

We (and by “we”, I mean mostly Alice and Marianne Archard and Jim Anderberg) are constructing a website for the library!  Lots of editing happening at this point, and there are always a few more things to add, but we are ready for you to take a look!   You can visit our site at  It is yet another way for you to connect with us.

With all of the emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning for young people, we have been looking at our collection lately, taking stock of our science-related resources for all ages.  What we look for in literature having to do with science for our youngest readers are topical books that also tell a good, engaging story through narrative, cool information, and – always – remarkable artwork.  Our picture book collection includes books that introduce physics (Darlene Stille’s Air Outside, Inside, and All Around; and Motion: Push and Pull, Fast and Slow); biology and nature (Stockland’s Sandy, Leaf, or Coral Reef: a Book About Animal Habitats; I Am Water, by Jean Marzolo); earth systems (Rosinsky’s Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough); and applied science (The Day-Glo Brothers, by Chris Barton).  Top authors to keep in mind are Gail Gibbons, Jim Arnosky, and Joanna Cole (we have her Magic School Bus series of books, as well as videos).  There are so many more titles and authors that bear mentioning, but we’ll stop there for now.

The Juvenile 500s (science) collection covers chemistry, physics, magnetism and electricity, science experiments, water & earth, sea life, animals & insects.  Our go-to authors are Seymour Simon and Steve Jenkins – they give us great information and narrative coupled with gorgeous illustration.  The Eyewitness book series is always popular, no matter what topic.

Don’t forget to check our 500s in the adult nonfiction, too.  There’s plenty to pique your interest.  Besides a wide array of field guides, there is lots of fascinating narrative, creative writing by beloved authors like Rachel Carson, Dean Bennet (local nature writer), Diane Ackerman, and Stephen Hawking.

Meanwhile, to “depart the text”, we have a new Maine Poet Laureate, Stuart Kestenbaum.  Stuart came to do a reading at Vienna Union Hall last year, to quite an appreciative crowd.  We have three of his books in our collection.  This week, I lent out my own copy of Mary Oliver’s most recent book of poetry, Felicity, to a dear friend; and I’ve been paging through an old favorite book, birch Stream and Other Poems by Maine poet Anna Boynton Averill.  All of it keeps me in mind of a phrase written by our young patrons who leave encouraging and thoughtful notes for us to find around the library.  They spoke, in a recent note, of living “deep, like a poet”.  This seems to be a wise and beautiful way to shape a life, don’t you think?  Something to aspire to.  What are you reading during the slow turning towards spring?


“In a democracy, information is power.” — Jim Gerritsen

Mt. Vernon, Maine      March Newsletter 2016    To view the March newsletter, open the following link.  Library News is on page 4, as follows.

“The library was the tree I could climb up into to get a glimpse of the outside world.” Richard Russo There was a great article on Richard Russo in the Portland Press Herald this past week – he’ll have a new novel out in May, entitled Everybody’s Fool (we have it on our wish list). He talked about his local public library in his rather hardscrabble town in New York state, and how it buoyed him up by providing just the right stories and resources to support who he was, and who he would become. The library was his “lifeline”. How does a library become a lifeline for a citizen in this time when needs are so diverse within a community? We’ve been planning and working on various ideas regarding providing further services. Part of the planning process must include assessing our current resources. You know, of course, that we have all sorts of reading materials: magazines, fiction and non-fiction books for all age groups (including a large Print Collection), as well as audio books and movies. Because we live in a rural area where people make do and keep items till they can’t be used anymore, our audio and video collections still even include some cassettes and VHS! We also subscribe to the Maine State Library’s Downloadable Books Project so our patrons can access e-books. We will work with you to find library materials for the blind and disabled. And, we can interlibrary loan materials for you, too. We also keep a stack of paper copies of the current town newsletter. Come grab one. Beyond those expected items, we have also been trying to develop a few other measures in recent years which reflect local interests. So, we’ve begun a small seed exchange (it is that time of year! Please donate vegetable & flower seeds to us so we can share with other gardeners!), and a kitchen & bakeware collection. We have local history materials to use in the library (and lets people use their website free as long as access to the site happens at the library. We have public access computers and free wi-fi, as well as a printer and photocopier. Further, we try to make the library a place of information exchange, as well as one that feels welcoming and warm. We are glad to tackle all sorts of information & reference questions (from negotiating state or federal websites, to geneology searches, to medical, natural sciences, aging, education, parenting, or other issues that pop up in life). Sometimes we can help right while the patron is there, other times we take that request home and play with it during a quieter time. Information exchange and book or materials advisory is some of the most important, and most rewarding work we do. Add in some comfy rocking chairs, toys for our younger patrons, blank paper and markers or crayons, and it begins to feel like a place full of life, and yet offering a moment’s respite at the same time. We continue our annual programs of summer reading activities with children, the summer Community Poetry Reading, the 3-4 Tax Help days that are so helpful to so many of our citizens at the end of the winter, Cheesemaking, and the usual Bird Walk in early June. Whenever we can, we add workshops or brief sessions on topics of interest to our patrons. This year that included a travelogue from an exchange student, an author talk with Stuart Kestenbaum, homework help, how to do Advance Directives, and rural housing issues. We’d like to do more. Let us know what you’d like to see happening. And that goes for – what comes next? What would you like to see happening at the library, or within the community, that is related to some of our services? Like so many public libraries, we are in the midst of change, looking at what might most further connection and involvement within our lovely towns. Email us at, or come talk with us at the library. Conversation brings us all forward. Speaking of conversation, I’ve been reading a new non-fiction book by Sherry Turkle, entitled Reclaiming Conversation: the Power of Talk in a Digital Age. She managages to be positive about all of our electroic devices and what they bring to our lives (I’m on my computer constantly, both for my jobs and in order to communicate with family and friends) while at the same time asking us to come to a new understanding of how to balance the influence of technology with being deeply connected to those who are here with us now in this space. Good stuff. I’ll bring it back to the library soon. What are you reading as we cycle through brief mud “seasons” and winter storms?

Library Column November 2015

“Are you, um, a librarian?”

“Oh, heavens no.  Though I wish I were.  Librarians are ever so kind.”

Chris Grabenstein, The Island of Dr. Libris

We are hosting a Homework Help workshop for parents on Saturday, November 7th, at 4pm.  Linda Smith and Alice Olson (both retired teachers) will lead the informal discussion.  How do you create a good environment and routine at home so your kids can manage their homework?  What do you already do that is successful?  What questions might you have on how to engender good habits of work and inquiry?  We’ll share information on Common Core standards that drive current instruction, especially for math.  We’ll have childcare available, too!  Refreshments will be provided.  This is a great opportunity to learn some new tips on how to support your children in their school year.

Dates to remember:  We will be open our usual hours on November 11, Wednesday, Veterans Day.  On Wednesday, November 25 (the day before Thanksgiving), we’ll close a bit early, at 5:30.

We will continue with our Can Due program throughout November.  When you visit to borrow a book or movie, we’d love it if you drop off a few cans or boxes of food, or personal care items, for us to donate to the Food Bank.  Thanks for what you’ve brought so far!

As the holidays approach, keep in mind that we have various baking pans to loan out.  Most of our packets have a recipe or two included, too.  If you want to bake something special for a potluck or family gathering, come take a look and see what might inspire you!

Most of us put our gardens to bed for the winter this past month.  If you are a seed saver, we would love to have some individual packets of your favorite veggie or flower seeds to share in our seed exchange.  One community member shared some high resin calendula seed last year, and I planted some at home.  They were the loveliest part of my herb patch – vibrant & fragrant, great in bouquets and salads.

Besides listening to our audiobooks during long commutes or while doing chores around the house, some of our patrons are also downloading various podcasts to their computers or other portable devices.  There is a wide range of these audio files available, some for free, online.  Here are a couple of links to help you find just the right podcasts for your next trip:   MPBN has a number of its regular radio shows available as podcasts.  This is one of the most popular radio series.  You can subscribe via iTunes.  This American Life also has another popular series, called “Serial”.  They have TED Radio Hour, StoryCorps, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!, and others.  You can search by subject on this directory.  This one is from Canada.  Amusing, astonishing, sometimes cringe-worthy, it is literally a show of adults getting up before an audience and reading bits of their writing from when they were young.

Recently I’ve read Chris Grabenstein’s The Island of Dr. Libris (it is in our juvenile fiction collection).  I love the dialog & interactions between the various fictional characters (Tom Sawyer, Hercules, Pollyanna, the Musketeers) who are brought to life by the main character’s reading habits.  I also just finished Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, a novel of imagination, grief, and acceptance & understanding of all of the imperfect people we know & love.  Backman also wrote A Man Called Ove, which has been popular with our patrons.  What are you reading?

Reading Maine blog launched

Do you like to read books? So does George Smith of Mount Vernon. George has been writing book reviews for five years, posting them on his website,

George recently launched a new blog called Reading Maine, focused on books by Maine authors and/or about Maine, plus books about wildlife, fish, birds, and outdoor activities and issues. You can access the Reading Maine blog on the website of the Bangor Daily News in the History and Culture section:

George Smith fell in love with books at an early age, spending lots of time at Winthrop’s Charles Bailey Library. He has served as a Trustee of the Dr. Shaw Memorial Library in Mount Vernon for 36 years, and has a house full of books (too many says his wife Linda!). For the past five years, George has been writing full time, including George’s Outdoor News on the Bangor Daily News website, cited by the Maine Press Association in 2014 as the state’s best sports blog.

He has written an award-winning weekly editorial column published in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel for 26 years, columns for The Maine Sportsman magazine since 1977, and lots of special articles for magazines and the newsletters of various Maine organizations. In January of 2011, George and his wife Linda started writing a travel column, The Travelin’ Mainers, published each Sunday in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. In 2014 Islandport Press in Yarmouth published A Life Lived Outdoors, a book of George’s favorite columns about home, camp, family, faith, travel, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. You can access much of George’s writing on his website.

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