Summer Reading Program Begins This Saturday!

The excitement is building, people have been asking about it, and finally, on Saturday the fun begins! All kinds of stuff is lined up for the summer. There is something for everyone!

If you have participated before, you know that you want to be here on Saturday, June 17 to pick up your summer reading packet. If you haven’t participated before you should be at Topsham Public Library on Saturday, June 17 to pick up your summer reading packet. There are packets for babies, children, teens, and adults, too. These packets include information about programs and prizes available to all. Of course, if you cannot make it here on Saturday, you can pick up a packet the next time you visit.

Each packet contains a bookmark to record your summer reading. The completion of those bookmarks earn you prizes and/or tickets for raffles. Plus those packets will have flyers that highlight the special programs and opportunities taking place throughout the summer. Some of the highlights (and these are just highlights – you want to get the packets for all the details and programs) are:

for children:

  • Thursday, July 20 at 4:30pm  join us as we explore sharks and their unique adaptations  that help us learn more about their role in the ecosystem. Sharks4Kids will demonstrate why we should protect these animals instead of fearing them. Designed for ages 5-13, limit first 100 people.
  • Knit a Better World on Saturday, July 22 at 2pm. Warm Up America collects knit or crocheted 7×9″ squares and assembles them into cozy blankets. We want to send them some knit squares. Mariah or Emma can assist you in learning the basics of knitting, then you can take your project home to finish over the summer. We will provide yarn and needles. Designed for ages 7-12, registration is required for the instruction/supplies. If you would like to knit squares on your own, simply knit a 7×9″ square and bring it in to Mariah.
  • On Saturday, July 29 join us for Staycation 2017: a morning of special guests will read aloud to children. Guests include the principals from Topsham’s elementary schools, the Topsham Fire Chief, Topsham Town Manager and more. Then enjoy your picnic lunch on our grounds and we provide free ice cream and free beverages sponsored by Friends of Topsham Public Library. Details can be found at or pick up your flyer at Topsham Public Library.
  • Family Concert with Matt Loosigian on Friday, August 11 at 10am. Inspired by Matt’s incredibly dynamic voice and charismatic performance style, participants will sing, play and dance along as this musical wizard pulls giggles out of his guitar! Designed for children, but all ages welcome. Limit first 100 people.

for teens:

  • As part of Staycation 2017, on Saturday, July 29 at 10am there is a hands-on Graphic Novel Workshop where teens will learn the art of creating graphic novels and exploring how art tells a story. Registration is required.
  • Saturday, August 19 at 1pm the ever popular Teen Galaxy Spray Paint is back! Registration is required.  It can be messy so be sure to dress for a mess!

for adults:

  • Introduction to Tai Chi: A Wellness Approach on Saturday, July 1 and Saturday July 8 at 9am with Robin Brooks. We will learn gentle movements that help to balance energy, increase vitality and generate well-being. Wear comfortable clothing, soft shoes, and bring a water bottle.
  • Paul Doiron, Maine author of the Mike Bowditch series, will join us as part of our Staycation 2017 festivities. He will read at 2pm, but you will want to start the fun with Carol Birch Storyteller at 10am, and Gary Rainford, Maine poet, at 1pm. For details check out
  • Lighthouse Keeping with Ernest DeRaps August 2 at 6pm. Ernest G. DeRaps (U.S. Coast Guard, Retired) will show slides and give a talk about his family’s life in three Penobscot Bay Lighthouses and his own experiences in an isolated lighthouse south of Vinalhaven.

For more information about any of these programs, please call Topsham Public Library at 725-1727.

There is much more happening so be sure and get your packet!




Library Spotting

A few weeks ago, while we trudged through our gray, sunless days, Lynne, our lovely co-worker, was enjoying the sun down in the Florida Keys. While she was there, she happened upon two libraries, and she took pictures of them. Pictured left is Monroe County May Hill Russell Library.

That gave me an idea. When you are vacationing and holidaying, do you notice libraries? What if we all took pictures of libraries that we come upon on our travels? It doesn’t just have to be during summer get-aways, either. It can be any time of the year.

Whether you are in Paris, France or Paris, Maine, the tropics or the tundra, if you see/visit/discover a library take a picture and share it with us at Topsham Public Library. (You can post it on our Facebook page or you can email it to and we will post it here on the blog.)


Pictured below is Key Largo Public Library. It caught Lynne’s attention because it was in a strip mall. You may have noticed that Lynne herself is not pictured  any of the photos, but you can go ahead and ham it up for the camera if you want. And don’t forget to visit Topsham Public Library, too!

Summer Reading Lists 2017

Are you beginning to wonder if the sun still exists or if summer will ever arrive? I am. But don’t despair! Whether the days are dreary or the sun finally appears, there are book challenges and book suggestions to get us through our darkest days.

The following link is for the Read Harder Challenge. The Rare Reads Book Discussion group that meets here at Topsham Public Library is challenging themselves, and you can get in on the action.


PBS Newshour published a list of page turners which you can find here:


No summer reading list would be complete without The New York Times. This is a list of suggestions from authors who own bookstores (click here). Maybe on your travels you could stop in at one or two of these bookstores.


And we will keep our hopes alive that summer days on the beach will happen with the following list from Travel and Leisure:


If none of those work, stop by Topsham Public Library and we can help you. You won’t leave without a book.

Maine Authors on Display!

This month’s book display, located to the right as you enter Topsham Public Library, is highlighting Maine authors.

Maine is the best place to be in the summer, so when you hit the beach, or head to camp, or relax in your own yard, stop by Topsham Public Library first and pick up some books by Maine authors to enjoy in your Maine surroundings.

Of course, there will be selections from the ever popular Stephen King, Paul Doiron, Tess Gerritsen, Linda Greenlaw, Richard Russo, Monica Wood, and Richard Ford, but you might find some not-known-to-you voices like Earl Smith, Jen Blood, Jennie Bentley, Diane Amos, Joe Coomer, Tom Brown, Stephanie Doyon and others.

Maine is the place to be!

Come Celebrate With Us

The following was written by Sharon Ross, Development Coordinator for Topsham Public Library.

The Board of Trustees of the Topsham Public Library will be celebrating the opening of its newly configured West Garden Patio on May 20 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. with an opening tea that will also recognize a major donation by Brunswick resident Ruth Bouchard Klein.

In 2016, Ruth donated $15,000 in support of the library’s mission of being a community center for all ages, and to honor the legacy of her Franco-American Heritage, her parents Emilienne Josephine Painchaud Bouchard and Ovila Henri Bouchard, and her late husband, Walter J. Klein, Jr. The library is recognizing Ruth and her family with a patio container garden, built and curated by library garden volunteer coordinator Sarah Wolpow, and memorial benches made by The Woodshaper Shop of Dedham, Maine.

Ruth is one of 11 children who grew up in the French neighborhood of Topsham Heights along the Androscoggin River. Three generations of her family worked at the Cabot Manufacturing Mill, or Fort Andross, during manufacturing’s heyday. She has fond memories of her childhood in the Heights, where fellow French-Canadians and Franco-Americans built a close-knit community and often shared bounties from their home gardens. These memories may have sparked Ruth’s passion for gardening, which eventually led her to the Topsham Public Library as a volunteer for the library’s gardens. Ruth is a certified master gardener and has taught several master gardener workshops at the library.

The gardens at the Topsham Public Library is the product of dedicated volunteers who have created several demonstration gardens under the direction of certified master gardeners, including current garden volunteer coordinator Sarah Wolpow. Demonstration gardens include a tea garden, children’s garden, edible forest garden, and now our West Garden Patio container garden.

Ruth is a graduate of the University of Maine and has a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University. In 2014, she published, Je Me Souviens, a tribute to her Franco-American heritage and history in the Topsham/Brunswick area. She was also featured in a short documentary, “The Invisible People of Brunswick Maine,” produced in 2009 by Christian Schneider.

Do You Re-Read Books?

The day was gray and the rain wouldn’t stop. I decided to read a book. I have piles, literally, piles of new books just waiting to be read, but I ignored them. I had the overwhelming desire to read Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I don’t normally re-read books, but there are one or two that I go back to once-in-a-while.

When I read Lord of the Rings, I feel like I’m going home. I don’t know why, and I suppose it’s silly to say, but that’s how it makes me feel. I enjoy the earthiness of the story, and the camaraderie between the characters. I like the heroes and heroines faults and all, and I guess, especially for their faults. I don’t schedule when to re-read it, it just happens.

I asked my co-workers what books they re-read and here is a smattering of what they said.

Cyndi likes to re-read when she’s tired because she doesn’t have to concentrate as much, and she finds books more entertaining when she reads them a second time. Her go to author is Elizabeth Peters.

Julie re-reads Lord of the Flies by William Golding, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Sharon enjoys to re-visit essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Loren Eisley, and David Sedaris.

Emma did not hesitate when she told me what books she reads over and over again: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and  A Wrinkle In Time by Madaleine L’Engle are Lynne’s favorite books to read again.

And last but not least, Linda’s two favorite books to read again are by the same author: Great Lion of God and Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell.

Do you re-read books? What are your favorite books to re-read?


DVD Update From Dave

The following is an update from Dave about Topsham Public Library’s DVD collection.

Not all the “new” items that come into Topsham Public Library’s collection are noted on our monthly listing.  Most times when we bring something that is published or created in past years, it is not included on the list.  For instance, recently we received several donated DVD titles from Acorn, known to some of you from Acorn TV.  These items have long been released but are new to our collection, and I wanted to bring attention to some of those “new” to us!

Classic mysteries have arrived like the recently re-released Mrs. Bradley Mysteries, starring the terrific Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones & Avengers).  Voted favorite BBC actress, Patricia Routledge show her acting range portraying a retired northern housewife turned private eye in Hetty Wainthropp Investigates. The late, great Richard Griffiths in the much-loved Pie in the Sky series also graces our shelves in which he portrays a detective-by-day and a popular chef-by-night.  Anyone who loves crime shows or culinary delights will be immediately hooked.


Fans of small town living or family dramas will appreciate the recent additions of Ballykissangel featuring Stephen Tompkinson as an English priest being transferred to a small Irish village.  Fans of Julian Fellowes, creator and author of Downton Abbey, will delight in seeing his acting the part of Kilwillie in the zany character filled Monarch of the Glen.  Others will delight in the current Australian hit show A Place to Call Home, starring Marta Dussledorp (Janet King, Jack Irish) who has won several awards for her portrayal of a holocaust survivor coming home to Australia in the 1950’s.

Speaking of Australian shows, don’t miss other potential favorites and recent acquisitions, 800 Words (a journalist who loses his wife in an accident emigrates with his kids from Australia to New Zealand—but will they stay?), Level (fans of Downton Abbey will recognize Robert James-Collier in a pivotal role) and Deep Water, starring Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) attempting to solve a present day crime that might resemble the murder of her brother who was killed in a hate crime, years ago.  My personal favorite is Wentworth which I describe as Orange is the New Black meets Oz; it’s dark, but great!

This is just a sampling of the 45+ Acorn/BBC titles recently added to our collection, too many to annotate in this blog.  Most of these DVDs were donated by patrons who hoped fellow residents would enjoy them. If you have gently-used DVDs you are done with, that are not already part of our collection, please drop them by. If we can, we will include them in our collection of 4000 DVD titles. If not, they will go into our annual Friends of Topsham Public Library Book Sale that funds many library efforts including all our programming throughout the year.  We are especially interested in adding classic movies and series to our ever-growing collection.

(Touch of Frost; Duchess of Duke Street; Close to the Enemy; Case Histories; Flambards; Wish Me Luck; Rough Diamond; Cadfael; Invisibles; Strumpet City; Island at War; Maigret; The Grand; Detectorists; Trial & Retribution; Jack Taylor; Vexed; Winter; Jericho of Scotland Yard; Lark Rise to Candleford; To the Manor Born; Single-Handed; The Fall; 19-2; Touching Evil; Wire in the Blood; DCI Banks; Silk; Worricker; The Last Detective; Durrells in Corfu; Home Fires; and more.)

Topsham Public Library is Looking for Board Members

The following is a note from Susan Preece, Director of Topsham Public Library, concerning the search for new board members.

Topsham Public Library is looking for new board members.

Over the past week, as we have begun to advertise for trustee positions, I have been answering many questions about what the library board does and what we are looking for in a trustee. The first way to begin a discussion about being a trustee is to remind folks about the structure of the library itself.

The Topsham Public Library is a non-profit organization.  What this means is that contributions made to the library are tax-deductible and the library is tax-exempt. We receive about 85% of our funding from the Town of Topsham. The additional 15% of our funding comes from our own fundraising and from The Friends of Topsham Public Library. The Friends support virtually all of the programs that are offered through the library. The library’s Annual Appeal and other occasional fundraising events, like last year’s canoe raffle, along with the dedicated support of 19 local businesses who support our Business Roundtable at a variety of donation levels provide another source of revenue. Finally, we have many generous individuals and families who donate memorial funds to honor their loved ones or make celebratory donations to mark a life event like a birthday or a wedding.

Topsham has a long history of supporting the public library. In 1803, the first library facility in Topsham was established in 1803 as a “social library for the purpose of promoting knowledge”. In 1931, the first public library was incorporated by a group of community-spirited women who established the Topsham Public Library on the second floor of the Androscoggin Firehouse. In 1941, following that tradition, Sarah Whitten bequeathed her family home at 8 Pleasant Street, which became the library’s location for the next sixty years. In May of 2004, after a very successful capital campaign, the approval of a bond by town voters, and tremendous effort on the part of the board, staff, and community, Topsham Public Library moved into its first permanent home. This was one of the most significant building projects in the history of Topsham.

The library is run by the director and the board of trustees. The trustees and the director work together to provide adequate funding, offer programs, materials and services to the community and function as a community center for all ages in Topsham. The library’s board of trustees are a policy-making and governing board. The trustees supervise the director and the director supervises the staff.

Trustees are crucial to the delivery of library service to Topsham. Together, with the director and the staff, they make sure that the library provides books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and computer programs for all ages. They make sure that the staff has the resources needed to do their jobs effectively and they make it their mission to let the community know about what the library has to offer. This may mean attending meetings, talking to neighbors and community members, speaking up at Select Board meetings or Town Meeting. Trustees, with the help of the director and staff, keep abreast of nationwide trends and issues affecting libraries. This may include learning about library legislation at the state and federal levels and ensuring that the library complies with standards.

One of the most important jobs of a trustee is to find out what the community wants from their library and to figure out how to provide it. Fundraising, understanding the town’s budget process and stresses, and communicating with the schools, local non-profits and businesses to create sustainable funding is key to the library’s future. As a member of the board, individual trustees work toward consensus building and always speak as one. The board meets monthly (except in August), usually on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:00 PM at the library. Board members also serve on one or more committees, (governance, finance, development or facilities.) Usually the time commitment is about 8 hours per month.

Public libraries are the most important democratic institutions in the nation and have a long history of independence. A good public library should have something to offend everyone, provide free access to materials and services, including the Internet and protect every individual’s privacy regardless of age, or circumstance. It is important that the Board of Trustees understand the importance of the library in the community and work together to support library values.

If you love libraries, working with others to create something special and have the time, we want to hear from YOU! Applications for Trustees are available on the library’s website or at the desk. Deadline for the submission of applications is May 15, 2017. Interviews will be conducted by the governance committee during the week of June 5, 2017. If you are would like more information about being a trustee, please contact Susan Preece, Director at 725-1727 or  Check the library’s website  at to learn more about current board members.


An Author Comes Calling

The Mystery Readers’ Roundtable has been faithfully meeting once a month, except during the summer, since September 2009 here at Topsham Public Library. We’ve read books from all over Maine, from all over the U.S. and from all over the world. We have explored amateur sleuths, police procedurals, and even true crime. We have also visited a few different centuries. We have had some great discussions and a lot of fun. On a couple of occasions, we have even had the author join in. That really makes for an exciting discussion.

On April 11, Mary Lawrence, author of the Bianca Goddard mystery series, came to sit in on our Roundtable.  Ms. Lawrence led us on a great tour of her book, The Alchemist’s Daughter. The story is about a young girl, Bianca, who has struck out on her own because life with her parents left much to be desired. Vowing not to be like her own mother, at the mercy of a man, she is determined to be an independent, self-sufficient woman, which was quite a feat in the 1500’s when this story takes place. Ms. Lawrence originally intended for this to be a young adult coming-of-age story and spent 16 years making it so. Apparently Bianca had other ideas, and headstrong as she is, decided she would rather be the heroine in a mystery. Being a good author, Ms. Lawrence knew when to let go and let her child be. She said it really is true that the characters take the author on a journey, not the other way around.

Writing an historical mystery carries extra responsibility as well, to be accurate with the happenings, dress, and customs of the time. Even the use of language is important to enhance the setting. Going back to medieval England and getting the colloquial language right without making it difficult for readers to understand is a real challenge. As a fan of Shakespeare, Ms. Lawrence took a page from his writing and just made up some of the words. I never would have guessed. The meanings were made clear by the context. There were a few actual terms that I had to look up, but only because I was curious to see if they meant what I thought they did. Yes, they did, but they might make you blush if I put them here.

Why alchemy? Ms. Lawrence’s major in college was science, although it was Bianca’s father who was the alchemist. Bianca didn’t believe in that foolishness, but she did learn how to design and carry out experiments from him. She preferred to use herbs and plants to make cures for common maladies. The trouble all started when she made a concoction for her friend, Jolyn, to aid her digestive symptoms, only to watch Jolyn die right in front of her.

Ms. Lawrence has a good sense of humor too. She hid the names of some Maine towns in her book. Did you know there is a small town in Maine called MeddyBemps? It’s in Washington County and Ms. Lawrence named one of her characters after it.  I’ll let you find others on your own.

Ms. Lawrence stated that she wanted this book to be fun to read, not heavy and grim. Add an incompetent buffoon of a constable, some unsavory citizens, and a well-meaning suitor, and the mood lightens considerably. Still, Bianca must prove herself innocent of this crime. But first she has to determine if she really is innocent. That’s where the rats come in.

Anyway, I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it to say that after this story emerged Ms. Lawrence’s publisher was sold on the book. She had intended this to be a stand-alone, but was delighted when her publisher asked her for two more episodes. She happily obliged and now numbers four and five are in the works.

I think most of us who read a lot often dream of becoming the person who writes the books. After all, it’s such a glamorous life, isn’t it? Imagine going to book signings, having adoring fans clamoring for your next book, appearing on The Today Show with your very own Oprah recommended book, raking in all those royalties. But, alas, it is not so. Ms. Lawrence shared that she procrastinates every day, having coffee, running errands, staring at her chair, and having more coffee, before finally pushing herself to sit down and write her 1000 word requirement for that day, every day, mostly. She also has to do much of the promotion for the sale of her books, although she doesn’t get to choose the title or the book cover. And that’s not her only job. She and her husband David Sliman, have a seven acre farm in Limington where they grow their own fruit and make their own jam for sale. You can check it out at

So it was very gracious of her to come and meet with our book group, driving up the coast and sharing her time and experience and wit with us. Thank you very much, Mary, we enjoyed having you visit.