January 16, 2015
President's Letter

The next few months will be very busy for the Maine Library Association!  

At our conference, we celebrated the retirement of our business manager, Edna Comstock, but fortunately she's with us through the end of our fiscal year.  We'll be beginning our search for a new business manager soon - toss your leads our way!  It will be no easy feat to find someone to fill all the many roles Edna has filled for us over the years, but we look forward to welcoming someone new to our organization.  

You may have noticed that we have a group rate available when you renewed your membership.  Personal memberships are still available, but an entire library may sign up everyone as a member at a reduced rate.  This is exciting for us and for you!  Cost savings is obviously a great thing for libraries these days, but for us it's great to have a larger membership base.  We have more weight as an organization when we have more librarians involved as members, and libraries need as many supporters as possible in this upcoming budget cycle.  

We have some issues coming up that will need your support.  First, with the help of Linda Lord, Anne Filley, the AG's office, MLA's Legislative Committee and Executive Council, and several very supportive legislators, there is a proposed revision to clarify Maine's law regarding library patron privacy that will hopefully come before the legislature this session.  This proposed revision will protect not only the physical and digital circulation history of our patrons, but also their personal information which we collect when we register them.  It will not affect our use of aggregate data. We will call on you to help us support this revision when the time comes to testify about the importance of patron privacy to our missions and our public.
Municipal Revenue Sharing is another big issue that may affect many of us in our next budget, and we will all be waiting to find out how deeply.  I would love to hear your stories about how cuts to the Municipal Revenue Sharing program will affect your community and your library as we work on educating the public about the costs to our municipalities.  


Submitted by Nissa Flanagan
We at the MLA to Z would like to congratulate Jamie Ritter on being selected as the new Maine State Librarian, as well as wish Linda Lord well as she begins her retirement. Best wishes to you both!
Health Sciences Libraries at Your Service

The New Year is a perfect time to reacquaint public, school and academic librarians with their colleagues in Maine’s health sciences libraries.  These specialists would be delighted to help with patron reference requests of a medical nature that are over and beyond standard, available resources. 

Health sciences librarians can provide information on diseases and conditions, treatment options, tests, and drugs from the latest proprietary, evidence-based sources including peer-reviewed journals, databases, texts, and clinical trial reports.  We promote health literacy and advocate for plain language in communications both spoken and written.  Many offer community health education outreach services.  Public, school and academic librarians are welcomed to contact health sciences librarians directly on their patron’s behalf.  Alternatively, librarians may suggest that patrons work though their medical professional or contact their local hospital to see if a librarian is on staff.

Many health sciences librarians in Maine belong to HSLIC, the Health Science Libraries and Information Consortium, which fosters cooperative education and resource sharing among health science librarians.  Information on HSLIC and its membership may be obtained at or by contacting its chair, Susan A. Bloomfield at
Submitted by Susan A. Bloomfield, MLS, AHIP
Health Sciences Librarian, Southern Maine Health Care
Why Should the Kids Have All the Fun?

Camden Public Library’s Children’s Librarian, Amy Hand, decided “why should the kids have all the fun?” and planned JUMPSTART JANUARY, a set of hands-on adult craft workshops to start the new year. They have been wildly successful, with large groups participating! The programs have yielded lots of artistic creations and lots of fun on these cold winter days. The hands-on workshops include: marbling and paste paper, Sumi-e Oriental Brush Painting, introduction to fly tying, needle felting and making books by hand. The charge is $10 and all materials have been supplied by and taught by local experts, including Amy.

There are waiting lists for several of the workshops and the library has used Facebook to post the creations! It has been an exciting, hands-on event to begin the new year!
Submitted by Lynne O'Leary Annis
Camden Public Library
Scholarship and Loan Committee Thank You
The Scholarship and Loan Committee is sending everyone a big thank you for the success of the November Conference and in particular our Basket Raffle! This seems like a good time to share some history of the Committee and Phyllis E. Ainsworth. The Student Loan Committee and was established in 1944 by the Maine Library Association for the purpose of providing loans without interest to Maine residents attending library school. It was renamed the Phyllis E. Ainsworth Fund in 1979, and was still only used to fund loans. The first $1000 scholarship was awarded in 1995. In the mid-2000s the it was increased to $2000 and the Committee name changed to Scholarship and Loan.
Phyllis E. Ainsworth (1917-1979) was born in Portland. She attended high school in Montreal and graduated from McGill University. She also studied at Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Boston University and the University of Maine. Ms. Ainsworth was the first librarian at the Yarmouth Junior-Senior High School Library, the first librarian at PRIME (the Portland Regional Instructional Media Experiment), she started the Baxter School for the Deaf library, and was the first Southern Maine District Consultant, serving from November, 1974 to August, 1976. She served on the Maine Library Commission and was a trustee of the Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth. In the fall 1994 Maine Entry newsletter a retired librarian described her as a person who “could bake up a storm and realized the importance of food to librarians”.
The first Phyllis E. Ainsworth scholarship went to Margaret McNamee in 1995 and has been awarded every year since. You can see a full list of scholarship recipients at

Submitted by Debbie Lozito
Edythe Dyer Library
Take Your Child to the Library Day

What is Take Your Child to the Library Day? It is a day to celebrate families at the library.  The whole idea was launched in 2011 by Nadine Lipman, of the Waterford Public Library, and Caitlin Augusta of the Stratford Library, both in Connecticut.  They wanted to raise awareness about the importance of libraries in children’s lives. I found out about it via the PUB-YAC (Public Libraries, Young Adults, and Children) listserv, and have been doing it every year since it started!  

This year, Take Your Child to the Library Day falls on February 7. It is annually celebrated on the first Saturday of February each year. You can use it to encourage kids and their families to come and see what you have going on. They might not realize you have an awesome chair to read picture books in yet! Maybe they didn’t know you had a teen space. Lots of things can happen on that day.

At the Connecticut Libraries page, you can find the official logo for you to use, bookmarks for you to print out, products to buy from Upstart, and more resources. I have used many of their ideas for my programs in the past. Most of the time I try to keep it simple—make-and-take crafts, a story time, and highlighting something new at the library. You could go beyond that by having a special performer come or have snacks. I have focused on dinosaurs, bunnies, and highlighting a new AWE Early Literacy Station. Other libraries in Maine have had awesome ideas too. Last year the Windham Public Library encouraged people to read picture books published in the year they were born. They created a whole room full of books organized by year. This would also be a great time to highlight the Chickadee Award and Maine Student Book Award books. 

There is a survey to fill out to sign-up. This helps the organizers know how far their idea has spread. It also enters you into a contest for free books. I know it looks very Connecticut heavy, and I hope they improve up on that for next year. This is the link to sign up. 

Have fun, and share any ideas that you come up with! I’ve always had a good time hosting a TYCLD event, and I know you will too!
Submitted by Samantha Cote, Winslow Public Library
New Happenings at Curtis Memorial Library
By shifting and weeding the collection, we freed up additional library space to move one of our technology rooms upstairs for better staff assistance.  This move freed up a large open glass room on the first floor to create the COLLABORATORY, an interactive, multi-media/multi-sensory exhibit space with a new theme each month.  We’ve partnered with Maine’s TEDxDirigo chapter to present a Mavericks and Misfits theme; presented a month on the exploration of PLAY, including a kite-building workshop from the New England Kite Flyer’s Association; are currently featuring a highly-interactive exhibit on cause and effect with lots of kinetic contraptions to tinker with; and in February will celebrate all things “book.”  The space includes video; hands-on participation; patron quips, quotes, memories and notes; workshops and speakers; and always highlights themed items available to borrow from our collection.  The space may also host larger exhibits touring libraries and museums.

Based on patron browsing patterns and reference needs, Curtis recently completed the reorganization of its nonfiction collection into NEIGHBORHOODS, such as Crafts & Hobbies, Home & Garden, Biography, Writing & Literature, Cooking & Entertaining, and others.  Guided by improved signage, including shelf talkers, Curtis patrons are now able to more easily browse and linger in a neighborhood of interest.  Improvements to seating and tables have also helped to enhance the patron’s library experience.
Inspired by the Louisville (KY) Free Public Library, Curtis hosted its first HOW-TO FESTIVAL.  We had over 40 activities happening within 4 hours throughout the library on a Saturday, and enjoyed participation from many local businesses, organizations, artists, crafters and staff.  People were handed a schedule upon arrival and strolled through the library to catch a 15 – 30 minute mini-program on everything from line dancing to how to tie a bow tie or write your name in Russian, to how to make the perfect cup of coffee or tea or smoothie, to choosing the right kayak or the top 10 apps for you.  Plans for future festivals are in the works. 

Submitted by Joyce Schmitt,
Curtis Memorial Library

Library Libations!

There will be a Library Libations on Friday, January 29 at the Ruby Tuesdays in Augusta at 6 PM. Please let Samantha Cote know by emailing her at if you will be attending.

Library Libations are always open to all librarians and are a time to get together with your colleagues over food in an informal setting. Anyone can host one, it's easy! If you want advice about hosting, please email Samantha as well.
What Are You Reading?
Holly Williams, Pittsfield Public Library
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. 

A novel during WWII, alternating chapters between a boy in Germany and a girl in France. They're connected by a radio transmitter, but won't know that for years to come. A beautiful, beautiful story that made me only want to read little bits so I could savor the words in my head, like chocolate under my tongue.

Carla McAllister, New Gloucester Public Library  
I am addicted to the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child.  There are 19 in all and I have read 17 of them over the last few weeks and enjoyed them a lot.  They are probably a series that men in particular would like, but I find them to be a guilty pleasure! He gets himself into some predicaments that you can't imagine him ever being able to get out of, but somehow he does. He is a retired Army Military Police guy who travels around all the time, has no home or ANYTHING.  Buys clothes as he needs them, then throws away the old set. He gets into circumstances where he can right wrongs and has no one to answer to which makes for an altogether interesting concept of lifestyle.

Barb Rehmeyer, Ivan O. Davis-Liberty Library, Liberty
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
If you enjoy black humor (and who doesn't in the wintertime?), you will enjoy this feel-good Swedish tale about 59-year-old, Ove, a curmudgeon like no other. Rules are made to be followed. Since he was forced into retirement from his job and his wife died, Ove has decided life is not worth living so he tries to kill himself - except there is always someone or something that gets in his way. There is the young couple and their two children who move in next door, his oldest friend (and enemy) who is being forced to move to a nursing home, and who will take care of that darn cat that keeps showing up at his door? Ove’s suicide plans get waylaid as he helps solve one crisis after another. This quirky debut novel from Sweden will make you laugh and win your heart.

Kate Cutko, Bowdoinham Public Library
All We Had by Annie Weatherwax

Mamie Ney, Auburn Public Library
Don't forget about the Maine Reader's Choice Award Longlist!
In this Issue

Librarian Spotlight

This month's Librarian Spotlight is on Jen Alvino, director of the Windham Public Library and our 2014 Librarian of the Year. 

First of all, congratulations on winning the 2014 Outstanding Librarian of the Year Award! Can you tell us about how you found out about your nomination? 

I found out about my nomination (and that I won the award) at the Annual NELA Conference in Boxborough in October. Kara Reiman told me that my coworker, Laurel Parker, had arranged the nomination and gathered letters of support. It was quite a surprise; she didn’t let on that she was contacting my colleagues about the letters of support.

You were presented your award at the joint MLA/MASL conference. How did it feel to receive the award? Did you have a good time at the conference?

It was very exciting to receive the award. The people that wrote letters of support were all so kind with their words. It was very special and a highlight of my career. I had a great time at the conference. It is always great to see and connect with colleagues from around the state and the programs that I attended were really good. I was there on Sunday for sessions and the reception and dinner following for Linda’s retirement. I was so happy that I also got to celebrate Linda and Edna’s retirements.

How has life been since then?

Well, first I guess I’m amazed at how many people saw the press about the award. I have had a lot of patrons at the library congratulating me and I was at the dentist yesterday and the administrative assistants knew all about it and were so happy for me. It has been a great conversation starter about libraries and our services. Other than that I have been busy transitioning the Windham PL to Minerva and starting to look at a new ebook system that we will offer our patrons this month. Always moving forward!

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to be a librarian?

I feel like I have literally grown up in libraries, as I think so many people working in libraries have. When I was younger, my mother could watch me from our kitchen window walking to the school where my branch of the Portland Public Library, the Riverton Branch, was. I could go anytime I wanted. The librarians knew me well and I helped them with small projects when I was there. I would stamp date due stickers,  file card catalog cards, or shelve books. When I was old enough they offered me a few hours shelving books as a library clerk. From there I worked my way up through different positions after high school and while I was in college. I really got to know the ins and outs of the library through the variety of positions I held. I moved away to upstate New York for a short time and when I returned I went straight back to PPL and was determined that I wanted to finish my undergraduate degree in Communication and then go on to Simmons. I had some wonderful mentors that encouraged me along the way and PPL was very supportive and flexible with my work schedule. I knew I eventually wanted to be a Library Director so I took classes that would support that goal. Last year I accepted the Library Director position here in Windham and have been very happy with that decision. I look  forward to finding new and interesting endeavors in the future.

Tell us about your work at Windham and any other projects you have worked on and would like to highlight.

I am so pleased to have found my position here in Windham. It is a really good fit for me. I enjoy working in this community and feel that I have accomplished a lot since I’ve started and have plenty more ideas for the future! Joining Minerva is by far the biggest accomplishment so far and we’ll have a new ebook system soon. As far as other projects or things I’ve been involved with I’m very pleased to have been involved in the New England Library Leadership Symposium. I attended in 2005 with Andi Jackson-Darling. I made great connections through that program and learned so much about being a leader. I also appreciate the opportunities I have had to work with NELA and MLA. I think being involved in our professional associations has been the most gratifying work I have done. I have been able to hold various positions on the state, regional and national level including being President of NELA. This has given me the opportunity to meet many people that have had a positive effect on my career, become a mentor and effect change within the organizations I have worked in. It’s very exciting to be involved!

What do you love the most about your work?

There are so many things that I love about the work that we do but I think what I love the most is the people, both the community members to whom I provide library services for and the colleagues that I work with throughout the state and New England. Library services are an essential part of the community and I love the passionate discussions that I have with colleagues and patrons about books, technology and the programs we offer.

 What are your plans from here? Where do you see yourself in the future?

I am a new member of the ALA Council representing Maine Library Association. I’m looking forward to learning more about ALA and what I can do to support Maine on the council. Beyond that I always have lofty dreams of what the future holds. You never know where I’ll turn up!

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Janet Evanovich’s Top Secret Twenty-One for fun and the Teen book Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling because it was recommended to me.  I’m starting Unbroken and Wild because I want to see the movies and I need to read the books first!

As an outstanding librarian, what advice would you give other librarians, particularly those starting in the profession?

Get involved! Read about what is going on within the state and around the country. Go to conferences and meet your colleagues or offer to help out within your professional association. There are many positions that do not require huge time commitments and often there is a virtual meeting option. The work I have done with New England Library Association and Maine Library Association has been so rewarding. I have met some wonderful people through my participation of conference committees and association boards. I have learned so much through these connections and formed friendships and mentoring relationships that have lasted many years. I always have someone I can call if I need help, an idea or information. The relationships I have formed are priceless!

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