July 26, 2016
In this Issue
President's Letter

Beg, Borrow, and Steal Our Way to a Brighter Future

Greetings again from your friendly association president. We’re still deep in the process of getting this year’s annual conference ready to go (November 14th and 15th at Sunday River), but before that can happen, I’m also going to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Beg Borrow and Steal events. What am I going to be talking about?

Like many state chapters of ALA, the Maine Library Association is at an important crossroads of sorts. Over the past year or two, we’ve done a lot to bring new members into the fold, but the big question is “What do we do with them?” What’s the purpose of MLA beyond holding the annual conference? What else can we be doing for the libraries and librarians in the state?

These are the questions we need to answer in order to move forward, not just as a state chapter, but as a group of committed librarians from all types of libraries in Maine. The answers are going to vary. Part of them will be found as the board reviews the organization’s bylaws this August and works on revising them and getting them ready for a vote of approval by membership. But I would argue a more important part of those answers will be found with you.

MLA is much more than its presidency or its board. We are over 450 members strong now, and more are joining all the time. In a nutshell, MLA needs you. Not just your membership, but your active participation. We need ideas for new endeavors, and willing hands and minds to make those ideas a reality. We need vibrant sections, including Youth Services, Reference & Adult Services, and Archives and Special Collection—or new sections that would like to form.

Come ready to brainstorm directions for the future and ways for individuals to contribute. In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight, and I hope to see many of you at Beg Borrow and Steal (in Bangor on the 22nd or Waterville on the 29th) later in August! Please look at our next article for more information about the summit.

Bryce Cundick
MLA President

Beg Borrow & Steal 2016 Special Section Summit

This year the Maine Library Association is taking a hard look at the special sections.  In the past, Beg, Borrow & Steal has been exclusively for members of the Youth Services Section of the MLA. However, it has become evident that the YSS has significantly more momentum than the other sections. SO… 

This year we are inviting those interested in or involved in any of the three sections of the Maine Library Association. The sections are: Youth Services Section, Reference & Adult Services Section, and Archives and Special Collections.

We will be focusing on building a new foundation for our sections by inviting Bryce Cundick, MLA President to speak about what the MLA is doing and what he sees as the role of the sections. We will look at the MLA mission statement and then break into our sections to decide whether to build up or disband each section.

We will be holding two conferences; one in the north (Bangor) and one further south (Waterville). This is in an effort to let our northern librarians know that we hear them and we want to see more of them! What you say matters!

This is a day-long event (10 AM-3 PM) and lunch is included in the $20 fee. We really want your input so if you have difficulty with the fee, traveling, can’t leave your library or need free lodging please contact Jessica Rollerson (moi). I will do everything I can to support you and get you to this conference. Even if you have an impossible barrier- please let me know what it is so I can share your challenges with the MLA and we can get to work on helping more of you get to more events. I’m serious! Whine away! This is a limited time offer ;)
Jessica Rollerson, YSS Chair, Witherle Memorial Library
Prince Memorial Library on Digital Maine
Prince Memorial Library in Cumberland first uploaded content to Digital Maine, the Maine State Library’s digital repository, in September 2014, when Cumberland Vital Records 1701–1892 was posted on the site. As of July 15, 2016, the work, a digital version of the November 2009 print book of the same name, has been downloaded 1,604 times. Currently, the title is in the number three position on Digital Maine’s “Top 10 Downloads” list, behind Stumpage Prices by Maine County/Unit, 2012 and Genealogy Notes from Emily August 2015.

Since that initial foray into digital publishing, the library has posted an additional dozen self-published volumes, with titles ranging from Cumberland Overseers of the Poor: Documents 1821-1915 to Cumberland Congregational Church History and Vital Records and Locating the Old Houses of Cumberland Maine. In addition, we’ve scanned a number of the old Greely Institute yearbooks and the more recent Greely High School Shield and uploaded them to the site.

The 42 listings on Digital Maine’s Prince Memorial Library Books gallery have recorded more than 4,100 downloads, originating from across the United States, Canada and Europe and such far-flung locales as the Maldives, Moscow and Malaysia. More self-published volumes are in the works, and will be uploaded and available for download as soon as they are completed. All of the library’s content on Digital Maine is searchable through the library’s catalog (, with direct links to download the title.

The Town of Cumberland, the library’s parent organization, recently embarked on a program to digitize all of the town’s maps, plans, surveys and other drawings. PML is taking the lead in massaging the files, creating metadata and uploading them to Digital Maine, and each upload will be catalogued in and searchable through the library catalog. Needless to say, the Cumberland Digital Plans project has further enhanced the library’s value in the eyes of its primary funder.

I encourage libraries and other repositories in Maine to create content for inclusion on Digital Maine. From self-publishing local histories to scanning photographs, manuscripts and town documents, the possibilities are limitless when considering what is appropriate content for inclusion on the site. Do as I did, and contact Adam Fisher of the Maine State Library to get started on posting content for all to enjoy.
Thomas C. Bennett, Prince Memorial Library
Scenes in the Rear View Mirror 

It's been over a year since I left the working world and I hope my thoughts on the process leading up to it and what's happened since are helpful or interesting to other librarians. Look around at any gathering of Maine librarians and it's clear that we're an aging group. Many will retire in the next five to ten years. That's great news for those in library school or who aspire to a bigger challenge in their careers. Anyone who thinks libraries are an endangered species hasn't spent much time in one recently.

The process leading to my retirement was a combination of mental gymnastics and planning. The planning was easier. I needed to identify what was reasonable to complete by the last day on the job, help the trustees update the job description and figure out what should go on a cheat sheet for whoever came in after me.

The mental part, in hindsight, was more like Jekyll and Hyde. I'd be in the middle of something, usually stressful, and the voice in my head would remind me that soon I'd never have to worry about it again. The insanity came from how much time was necessary to get comfortable with not having Librarian as my identity any longer. Let's be honest, many of us in the profession work extra, do things that aren't part of the job description and go the extra mile for perfect strangers because it's what makes us feel good. Having that evaporate, or contemplating that reality took six months for me—Gotta warn you about that.

I also want to caution you about something you've heard over and over from other retirees. That block of extra time you expect to have is going to evaporate pretty fast. If it doesn't then you shouldn't have retired in the first place. If you're lucky, you'll wake up later in the morning with a big grin on your face. Unkempt and barefoot will become part of your routine. I can't speak for the female retirees, but as a guy, dressing up means wearing a relatively new t-shirt, my better shoes, socks and combing my hair. Most of the time, it's wearing the same pants and t-shirt, beat up shoes and no socks for three days in a row. The morning starts by letting the dog out and reading the Bangor Daily News while the coffee brews. Then it's on to breakfast and checking email. Since I'm still selling books for the library (and myself), I go to the library, get what sold and pack it before hitting the post office where I send them off and get the latest Hartland gossip.

Most days I read for several hours on the back deck while being serenaded by various birds. If you have expectations about your TBR (to be read) pile shrinking, I have to warn you that mine has doubled, but since I read mostly young adult fiction, what gets read is passed on to a number of small Maine libraries to help their collections. I don't bother finishing books where I lose interest and review almost every book on Amazon, sharing the reviews on Goodreads as well as on the Central Maine Library District blog.

For those worried about remaining relevant to the profession, I can say that opportunities to be useful are abundant. There was a time when I swore I'd never catalog as a librarian. Today, I serve as an original cataloger for the Maine Balsam Libraries Consortium and really enjoy doing so. I'm also the consortium treasurer, a role I also fulfill for Friends of Maine Libraries.
One of the best things about this first year of relative freedom has been the opportunity to get and stay on top of gardening. I bought, and with the help of my son-in-law, erected a 6x8 greenhouse so I could start my own seedlings. That was loads of fun, as was aggressively pruning our old apple trees. The benefits of all that free time are now being enjoyed, We have fresh tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli and even eggplant as well as two kinds of raspberries, sour cherries and wild black raspberries.
While my experiences are not likely to be similar to others, I thought them worth sharing for anyone contemplating the change. I'm interested in your thoughts about what I've shared.

John Clark, retired librarian
Giving Kids a Clean Slate

Kids who do not engage in reading activities over the summer lose academic ground, between one to three months of learning, according to studies. This is commonly referred to as The Summer Slide.To be successful, kids and teens need ongoing opportunities to read, learn and practice skills garnered during the school year throughout the summer vacation. Summer reading programs, like many libraries offer, have a significant positive effect and help kids avoid the summer slide. 

Many young patrons have fees and fines on their library cards prohibiting access over the summer to reading materials. While fines are a necessary part of protecting the library’s assets, the policy can create barriers for our youngest and neediest patrons to this critical resource during the important summer months. In an attempt to remove barriers to participation in our summer reading program McArthur Library decided to offer our first ever Clean Slate Campaign. All kids, ages 18 and under, who sign up for the summer reading program were given a “clean slate”.  We are waiving all overdue fines accrued on their record and additionally we made the decision to waive any of our items billed prior to January 2016. We, of course, cannot waive items which are billed to our patrons from other Libraries, so that was the only other exception we made.  

Our hope is that by removing this roadblock more students will have access to the materials needed to continue practicing and learning over the summer. Once the school doors close, many kids struggle to access educational opportunities. Just reading is not necessarily enough to keep kids’ brains from draining. Reading at an appropriate level and having guidance is essential. Students who participate in summer reading programs at Libraries across the state receive the benefit of having trained staff that can help select reading material which matches their reading level and interest. Additionally, Library staff can help ignite a passion for reading by including students in activities which, while centered on reading, are socially engaging and fun! We felt that getting kids to the library over the summer was important enough to try the program. The reality is that many of our patrons who accrue fines just never come back and we very likely would not see a lot of the revenue those fines would have generated. It was definitely a risk v. reward decision. The reward is having kids come back, check out books and hopefully go back to school in the fall having gained, rather than lost ground.  

On the risk side, we had concerns that we might be encouraging repeat offenders, forgiving fines only to have them rack up new bills. In an attempt to curb this we did put check out limits on some of the kids whose fines were forgiven allowing them to only check out several items at a time, thus minimizing the potential for them to abuse the program.  

Summer Reading is still going strong so the impact that this program has on our statistics for participation is still not clear. However, many kids who were staying away due to frozen Library cards have begun to use the library on a regular basis again, which is good news!

Deanna Gouzie McNamara, McArthur Public Library

Librarian Spotlight

This month's Librarian Spotlight is on Emily Schroeder, Reference and Genealogy Specialist at the Maine State Library

Emily Schroeder,
Maine State Library,  Augusta

When did you get started in libraries, and why did you want to? Were you always interested in genealogy? 
I’ve been living in one library or another since 6th grade, if memory serves me. My mother used to wheel me to Lithgow as a baby, so I’m well-acquainted. Library science seemed to be a natural fit, and I did not want to teach. Who knew that I’d end up teaching genealogy classes and enjoying it so much? Family history had always been a part of my childhood; I knew the importance of discovering your roots. The relatives who come before shape you into the person you are today, and not just from a biological standpoint. Mannerisms and abilities come through as well!

When I joined the State Library staff in 1980, I realized that genealogy was a big part of the collection, and I was fortunate enough to work with the reference librarian who took care of those queries. When she retired in 2007, I was allowed to pick up those duties. My job evolved from that point to include classes and workshops, one-on-one consultations, a genealogy newsletter and the formation of a genealogy club. 

What does an average day at the Maine State Library look like for you?
An average day at MSL? The saying “Mother never told me there’d be days like these” comes to mind. I work with 3 other reference librarians, and we share desk duty, the telephone and e-mail queries. The top priority is the person standing in front of you, who could be asking anything from “where’s the bathroom?” to “can you tell me who my great great-grandfather is?” We rely on each other for support and advice on the tougher questions…

You may not believe this, but we’ve had more than one patron contact us by the name of Drew, asking if they were related to Nancy Drew! Yeah, really! (We’ve kept a file of these requests!)

Did you get a library degree? What did you think about it?
I graduated from URI’s library school in 1988. It was good then, and continues to improve. It would’ve been impossible to predict all the technological changes that have come our way, and I had such rudimentary computer skills then. It’s so important to remain flexible and “go with the flow”. I was encouraged to get all the experience and training I could to serve patrons better.

What  do you wish other librarians knew about genealogy?
Genealogy can be deceiving and extremely time-consuming. You just find an answer to one question, and another pops up. I tell my patrons that it’s a cycle, and that your family history is continually growing. Many folks come to the desk and start to tell me their entire background, and I find myself “glazing over”. My advice: keep smiling, and pretend you’re at the beach. They need to share their research victories, and will get to a viable question eventually. 

Do you have any resources you recommend to librarians who may not know much about genealogy at all?
Resources? Well there are the biggies, like and, both of which have wikis and other forms of instruction to share. is great as well, with hundreds of thousands of links to genealogy websites. Take a good look at what you have in your library to offer; items like town and family histories are invaluable. Add some guidebooks, and seek out folks in your community who have some knowledge of genealogy and may be willing to volunteer. Last but not least, invite me to your library to have a workshop or do some collection development. I’m easy to find!

Thank you so much Emily!

About a year ago, eight Maine librarians were packing for the New England Library Leadership Symposium (NELLS), or as we affectionately refer to it now, "Librarian Summer Camp." This week-long symposium is a unique opportunity for structured and unstructured learning about leadership for the libraries of the future. In addition to daily group work, there are plenty of fun evening activities (like s'mores!) to encourage networking.

The week is a wonderful opportunity to learn, share, and reflect on the current state of libraries and how libraries will evolve. Maine librarians are lucky enough to be able to continue these conversations through the Maine Library Leadership Institute (MLLI). Each month focused on a different topic and we watched webinars and TED Talks, and read articles to prepare for the meetings. The group chose to meet at each participant's library, which was a great way to see how other libraries operate around the state, ask questions, and discover new ideas. In addition to covering a variety of leadership topics, each NELLS participant has developed a leadership project which will benefit their library's community even after MLLI has concluded.

The 2013 NELLS cohort served as our mentors to help us along the way and Stephanie Zurinski and Deborah Clark facilitated the meetings and guided us throughout the year. We appreciate your hard work! Thank you to the Maine State Library and the Maine Library Association for supporting these programs.

NELLS takes place every other year, and we would highly encourage anyone with an open mind, a passion for libraries, and nostalgia for summer camp to apply for the next session in 2017!

-The 2015 NELLS cohort

Photo courtesy of Michelle Conners

Front row: Maureen Sullivan (NELLS facilitator), Mary Beckett (Edythe L. Dyer Community Library), Abby Morrow (Ellsworth Public Library), Michelle Conners (Kennebunk Free Library), Marcela Peres (Lewiston Public Library)

Back row: Kara Reiman (Walker Memorial Library—NELLS mentor), Holly Williams (Pittsfield Public Library—NELLS mentor), Lisa Neal Shaw (Caribou Public Library), Erica Rubin Irish (Belfast Free Library)

Conference Reminders

The New England Library Association Annual Conference Imagining Tomorrow will be held on October 16-18 at the Doubletree in Danvers, MA.  Registration and Program Schedule are coming soon at

MLA Annual
Please save the date for the Maine Library Association's annual conference: November 14-15, 2016 at the Sunday River Resort in Newry, ME.

This year, it's all about success. Do you have a great project or program you could share with others, or have you seen another library up to something awesome?  We are currently looking for any and all success stories, from building renovations to great story times to excellent outreach efforts. Nominate yourself or someone you know!

Please contact MLA President Bryce Cundick at with your thoughts.

We look forward to seeing you there!
Maine Student Book Award

Looking for some fun and creative ways to promote the Maine Student Book Award program? Check out our website at: Look under the Resources tab for some really cool stuff. Reading charts, Kahoot games, book trailers and more! Need more? We have t-shirts and other merchandise for sale, look under the Promotion tab to see what is currently available. Save yourself time and energy by printing annotated book lists , bookmarks or download our logo. How are you promoting the Maine Student Book Award? Share your great ideas with us!  Contact information is available on our website.
Albert Church Brown Memorial Library's Busy Summer

Directors of the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library in China Village sponsored back-to-back events the mid-July weekend and found that owls outdraw people by a wide margin.

A Chewonki Natural History Program on Saturday, July 16, brought more than 100 people, including many children, to the library’s south lawn to watch instructor Sarah Daniels and her companions, Olivia the Great Horned Owl, Varia the Barred Owl and Athena the Saw-Whet Owl.    Afterwards, people wandered into the library to look for books about owls and to talk about what they’d learned – one family, for example, now knows which owl they hear in the daytime as well as at night when they’re camping in the White Mountains.

On Sunday, July 17, about 45 people joined in celebrating the library’s 75th anniversary in its current home, an 1820s former house on Main Street in China Village.  The library association is 80 years old; for the first five years books were loaned from the second floor of the former Masonic Hall a block away at the south end of Main Street.  The summer people who were instrumental in organizing a library also organized the purchase and restoration of the former Fletcher-Main house.  The relocated library was named in honor of Albert Church Brown, a former area resident whose widow generously provided most of the funding for the project.

The July 17 celebration included historical displays and slideshows, a short presentation on the history of the association and building, chamber music and the home-baked refreshments for which library directors and their spouses and friends are locally famous.

Future events include a continuation of the children’s programs that began late in June and two events primarily for adults.  On Thursday, Aug. 4, Susan Poulin will return to the library at 7 p.m. to talk about her new book, The Sweet Life; and on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 2 p.m. the popular duo of John Ford Sr. and Mark Nickerson will present “Blue Lights and Funny Cider.”  

The remaining children’s programs include juggling on Tuesday, Aug. 2 and camp games and healthy cooking on Tuesday, Aug. 9, based on three books: Mirette on the High Wire, The 175 Best Camp Games and Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook.  Each program begins at 3:30 p.m. and will last about an hour.

Everyone within commuting distance is welcome at all library events.  There is no charge, but donations to the China Library Association, a registered non-profit organization, are always welcome.  More information is available on the web site,, or by calling 968-2926 during library hours, which are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
Mary Grow,
Albert Church Brown Memorial Library
We hope you have enjoyed this issue of MLA to Z. Our next issue comes out in October, so get your article ideas ready!
Samantha Cote
MLA to Z Newsletter Editor
Youth Services/Technology Librarian, Winslow Public Library

Marcela Peres
MLA Communications Committee Chair
Adult Services Librarian, Lewiston Public Library

Bryce Cundick
MLA President
Manager of Instructional and Research Services, Mantor Library, University of Maine at Farmington
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