Newsletter Oct-Nov 2015

“Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for.” – Brian Selznick, from Wonderstruck

We are starting our annual CAN DUE program (forgiveness regarding overdues combined with canned goods collection) this month. Remember that if you bring in some items for us to donate to the Mt. Vernon Food Bank, all of your guilt about overdue library materials this past year will magically disappear. Bring us some canned or boxed goods (large cans of soup are great – winter’s coming!) or personal care items. We’ll get them to the Food Bank.

Most of our picture books about apples have been out constantly since early September. Now we are displaying some of our pumpkin, Halloween, and autumn books on the table in the children’s room. I’m sure they will prove to be as
popular as the apple books!

Also among the picture books, we have a nice collection from Raising Readers, a project of the Libra Foundation here in Maine. Each book is a collection of stories to share with your young children, from many different Maine authors (Chris Van Dusen and Robert McCloskey, for example). You might have seen some of these at your pediatrician’s office, too, since the member organizations of this project want to get these into the hands of all Maine youngsters and are distributing them far and wide. Our books are shelved together, with the spine label marked PB RAI. Keep these in mind for family reading time this winter.

Some websites we’ve been looking at lately, which you might find helpful, or just plain fun: is a site that lets you search for family & geneology information, but also lets you create your own family tree or chart, and add photos, to share with others. Their education resources are varied & extensive. Along the top tab bar, hover over the “Education” tab, and then click on PBS Learning Media/STEM Resource Bank; Adults; Parents and Families; Educators: or Kids. A website of scientific discovery where the public can participate in research and information sharing in various sciences (astronomy, zoology, biology, wildlife & habitat, etc). Cara Nicoletti’s blog about making the recipes she finds in literature (from Roald Dahl to Jane Austen to Anthony Doerr). Light-hearted, with some book-talk, and great (sometimes amusing) recipes. She has a book out now, too, called Voracious.

In the past few months I’ve been enjoying a lot of fiction set in small towns. Many of our patrons have, too, and we’ve been swapping titles back and forth. We like these stories

because the setting feels comfortable & familiar, of course; but also we are drawn to the very quirky characters, with all of their flaws and their own complicated backstories. These are books about imperfect people living in challenging but beloved places. Pretty soon we’ll put a partial list of small town fiction on the white board in the main room — please feel free to add to it! Meanwhile, here are a few titles to get you started:
  • Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by Bruce W. Cameron
  • Cold Storage, Alaska by John Straley
  • Lots of Maine writers like Sarah Graves, Elizabeth Ogilvie, Cathie Pelletier, and Gerry Boyle
  • Louise Penny’s popular mysteries (Canada)
  • Susan Wittig Albert’s mysteries that feature medicinal herbs
  • The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry (it will be in our collection soon, I’ve almost convinced various family members to part with it)
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (ditto, re our family letting it out of the house)

I just finished that last novel, The Readers of Broken Wheel, a wonderful story. What are you reading in between putting up applesauce and filling the woodbox?

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Newsletter Aug-Sep 2015

“When I was about eight, I decided that the most wonderful thing, next to a human being, was a book.” – Margaret Walker

Our childrenʼs programs are finished for the summer. We ended our “Be a Hero” series with music by Dan Simons. The kids love listening to him, and singing along. We are so grateful to all of our program heroes – we had a teacher, fire department and rescue people, a Maine author, and of course our musician, who read to us and presented so much great information and engaged our young patrons in beautiful conversations. We also thank the parents and grandparents who helped put together our craft projects – and we would have been lost without our summer program volunteer, Remi! Thanks also to Matt Dunn, as always, for providing ice cream certificates for the young patrons who signed up for summer reading and are working toward their goals of number of pages read.

The annual book sale was busy, and we got to visit with lots of people. Again, our volunteers made it all possible: everyone worked so hard, set-up was completed in record time! Thanks to all who helped load and unload innumerable boxes of books. We also want to thank the girls who set up a table to sell bouquets of wildflowers and homemade jewelry to benefit the library. In our book, all of our library volunteers are Super Heroes.

Monday, August 3rd at 7pm we will be at the Mt. Vernon Community Center for an information session on the proposed addition to the library building. The head of our board of trustees, George Smith, will be on hand to talk about the process and answer questions, and weʼll have the architectural drawings on display.

Then Thursday night that week, August 6, also at 7pm at the Community Center, weʼll have our annual Community Poetry Reading! Weʼve lost track of how long weʼve been doing this, but we guess itʼs been about 15 or 16 years. Join us for one of our most beloved programs. Bring a favorite poem to read, and listen to friends & neighbors recite Frost or Stevenson or Millay (or Silverstein). Weʼll have some anthologies there if you are inspired to read also, but forgot to bring a poem with you. Join us for a truly beautiful evening, and stay for light refreshments at the end.

To end the summer, respected Maine poet Stuart Kestenbaum will be reading his own work at the Vienna Union Hall on Wednesday, August 26 at 7pm. Iʼve been reading poems from his book Prayers & Run-on Sentences during quiet moments all summer. His writing is exquisite. It should be a fine night, please be with us.

My favorite novel this summer was Nina Georgeʼs A Little Paris Bookshop. A good story, quick read, and it is about a bookseller who recommends books to his customers based on the healing properties those books will hold in the personʼs life. Books as medicine! How could that not be a great read? Another beautiful novel, by Sena Jeter Naslund (author of Ahabʼs Wife), is Four Spirits, about a cast of characters as they make their way through the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s Birmingham. Well-written, and moving. What have you been reading when you arenʼt canning green beans, drying herbs, or sitting at the edge of the pond?

* Mary Anne Libby

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Newsletter Jun-Jul 2015

Library Column June 2015

Our “Be a Hero!” summer reading program is shaping up. All story/activity periods will take place at the library at 4pm on Monday afternoons starting June 29 and going through July. While we love super hero characters – especially those featured in children’s books (Traction Man by Mini Grey!), our Monday afternoon activities will revolve more around the “every day heroes” of a community. This is what our schedule looks like:

June 29, Maine author Nancy Prince, who wrote Libby’s Loons (the main character is a bit of a hero, trying to protect loons!). Nancy’s programs are geared towards both kids and adults, so please join us.

July 6, Fire Fighter hero from Mt. Vernon! One of our heroes will come visit with us.

July 13, Mrs. Hatt, our magnificent 4th grade teacher hero, with story time and craft.
July 20, One of our Mt. Vernon Rescue heroes (complete with ambulance!)

July 27, and lastly, our fine local music hero, singer Dan Simons, who will do music and song with our young patrons. His performance was very popular last year. You’ll love it.

We’ll send flyers home with MVES students this month so you can keep track of the schedule for the children’s programs.

Our housing discussion (Home is where the heart is) will be at the library on Sunday, June 7, @ 3pm. Sandy Wright, Rebecca Dorr, and Greg Plimpton (who builds accessory housing in Southern Maine) will be on hand to talk about their experiences with trying to help people figure out housing issues faced by both young folks just starting out, and seniors, who live in small rural communities. We want to hear your frustrations and worries about housing, as well as share ideas you may have about making home a safe, affordable, and comforting place within a thriving, caring community. Rebecca and Mary Anne will bring some refreshments.

The annual used book sale will be at the Mt. Vernon Community Center as usual on Saturday, July 18, starting at 9am. We have so many books to sell! Join us to browse the tables, buy lots of books for summer reading, and enjoy impromptu visits with various community members. We’ll have paperback & hard cover fiction and nonfiction, children’s books, as well as some movies and audiobooks.

And finally, our annual Community Poetry Reading is scheduled for Thursday evening, August 6, at 7pm in the Mt. Vernon Community Center. Mark your calendars – a beautiful evening, with community members reading or reciting beloved classics or contemporary and “homegrown” verse. It is always an amazing mix of beautiful literature and the warm and familiar voices of our dear friends and neighbors. There will be cookies.

Cool website of the month: Go Botany, a project providing information and resources about New England plants, funded in part by the National Science Foundation. If you click on their “simple key”, you can find ways to help identify some of those woodland and field plants you’ve been wondering about. Their url is:

We are hoping to open the library an extra 3-4 hours this summer. The past few years we’ve opened on Wednesday mornings from 9-12 in July and August. Are there other hours or days you would prefer? Let us know, and we’ll consider it. Our phone is 293-2565, and our email is: You can “like” our Facebook page (Dr. Shaw Memorial Library) and post your preference there, too.

–Mary Anne Libby

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Newsletter Apr-May 2015

“The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” Kurt Vonnegut

We will host a program on Sunday, April 12 at 3pm on making Health Care Advance Directives, presented by Jackie Fournier, who is a palliative care nurse practitioner at Central Maine Medical Center. Join us here at the library to learn what you might need to know about sharing directions for your medical care with family, friends, and health workers, in the event that you cannot let your wishes be known. We also have a DVD of “Consider the Conversation: a Documentary on a Taboo Subject” on loan from Jackie. Please feel free to come in and borrow it. We also have Atul Gawande’s quiet and informative book entitled Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

As many of you know, we pay a subscription to the Maine State Library Downloadable Books project for our patrons. Use of this resource by our adult patrons has increased greatly this past year, and we want you to know that the project includes many juvenile and young adult titles which might appeal to the younger generation. Please let your kids know these are available for loan to download onto their Ipads, Kindles, Nooks, or other tablets and computers. To access the collection, go to the MSL website at and click on “Download Library for e-books and audiobooks” under Popular Services at the top of the page. To sign up, our patrons use their four digit library number that is handwritten on their library card, rather than the barcode that is attached to the card.

Cool website of the month: a nice one for searching and then downloading free images. Try Pixabay at and search for the image you might need for a flyer or card.

There are some beautiful physical books being published lately. They are a great pleasure to hold and study. It is a nice reminder that e-publishing and traditional hard copies are both important for building knowledge and life experience and memories. We have mentioned Christie’s novel, Gutenberg’s Apprentice, in a previous column — such a beautiful book to hold as well as read. There are some children’s picture books being published in large format, beautifully illustrated, also. We have Jenny Bloom’s Animalium, which is chockfull of information, with classic illustrations on nicely textured paper. Steve Jenkins’ The Animal Book is also wonderful, as are the Eyewitness series of books. This winter we acquired the gorgeous new Historical Atlas of Maine, put together by UMaine – lucky for us, because the first printing sold out quickly.

Patrons enjoy taking it down from the mantel, laying it on the table, and paging through it. It is a unique presentation of Maine’s history, and provides a strong sense of place.

I’ve been reading Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper – a beautiful story of an elder woman’s journey across Canada, and the people she left behind, to take me into the start of mud season. What are you reading?


– Mary Anne Libby

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Newsletter Feb-Mar 2015

Spanish, French, or Italian dictionaries, some audios, a children’s fairy tale or two. Local demand for materials on learning language is generally low. But it’s good to have a few resources because knowing a bit of another language can give depth to how we hear & use our own language, and it gives us a glimpse of how others might interpret and name the world. Effective communication builds connection and understanding.

Language and history help us determine who we are in relation to others, and it gives us a sense of where we’ve been and, hopefully, where we could all be together in the future. If language is about communication (and we have much to talk about together), then the study of history provides the signposts of our experience which we must heed so that we are not necessarily bound to repeat it! Our history collection reflects how we try to come to terms with an often difficult or grievous past which can change our course and culture (To End All Wars, by Hochschild, 940.3; or This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Faust, 973.7), and gives us a glance at pieces of our past which influence us greatly but which are not always a part of the common information handed to us (Notes on a Lost Flute: a Field Guide to the Wabanaki, by Hardy, 974.1; or Paine’s The Sea and Civilization: a Maritime History of the World, 910.45). This is all so creatively written, entwined with personal stories of soldiers, sailors, explorers, laborers, and historians, which make times past come alive for us again.

Any classification system, whether it is Dewey or Library of Congress or a scientific classification of organisms, is merely a tool (often highly imperfect) to organize the chaos of information, opinion, and belief, and then hopefully help us make our way to the knowledge and wisdom we build in the process of making our lives. It lends structure & order to thought and
learning, and allows us to look at it holistically, to see some connections. Then maybe it doesn’t all feel quite so chaotic anymore.

A final note, speaking of organization: we now have our Maine fiction collection downstairs in the main room, come check it out. We are seeing the use of these wonderful stories go way up now that they are right in plain view. We have moved all YA (young adult) books out of the adult fiction shelves and moved them to their own space upstairs in the Dolloff room. We hope our teen readers will like having their own collection housed together, and can use that space for quiet browsing, and then perhaps spend some time sitting at the table to read a bit.

I’m reading Molly G. Manning’s When Books Went to War, an account of efforts to get small cheap editions of books into the hands of soldiers during WW2. It got lots of attention from various book blogs, and I’m enjoying reading about soldiers’ reactions to various titles. What are you reading as Orion journeys across the clear winter night sky?

…Mary Anne Libby

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