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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 director@topshamlibrary.org.  Check the library’s website  at www.topshamlibrary.org 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 www.rareberryfarm.com.

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.

An Author Comes Calling

This week Linda, a Topsham Public Library staff member and facilitator of Mystery Readers’ Roundtable Book Discussion Group, shares with us about a recent author visit.

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 www.rareberryfarm.com.

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.

My Random Thoughts About Audio Books

Last week, my sister Laurie, my cousin Lisa, and I went on a road trip to Michigan to visit my sister Becky. It was second nature for me to check out a variety of audio books from Topsham Public Library in preparation of the 14ish hours of drive time. (I won’t mention which of us has the lead foot.) Now, all three of us are readers and enjoy reading, but what I did not know is that Lisa had never listened to audio books before. She was a little nervous about the experience she was about undergo. I happened to have checked out The Guilty by David Baldacci, so we began with it because she was familiar with Baldacci and liked him. The time flew by with the three of us in the car, filling our mouths with junk food, spilling family secrets and switching up the audio book with some tunes. And Lisa thoroughly enjoyed her first audio book experience.

I, also, was an adult when I listened to my first audio book. My family was headed north for a vacation and I picked up a couple audio books from Topsham Public Library to, hopefully, make the ride more bearable. For no particular reason, I chose Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce read by Jason Hughes. A young boy in a small village in Wales tells the story of his sister’s grand plan to steal an art masterpiece to help their father save the family business. All of us, including my three elementary aged children, loved it. Even to this day, some 10 years later, we quote lines from it. The way Jason Hughes read the book added so much to the story.

After that first experience, I wanted to check out every audio book and listen non-stop. I was soon to discover not all audio books are created equal. Just as Jason Hughes’ performance added to the story, there are just as many readers who destroy a story. You will love some, and you will hate others.

I can remember what I was doing when I was listening to my favorite audio books. I hulled strawberries, froze strawberries, made strawberry jam, and made strawberry shortcake while listening to The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey and read by Paul Michael. I’m not sure if I would have liked the book as much as I liked the audio book. Paul Michael, through slight nuances, makes this story more thoughtful than if I had read it myself. This story is about a young man who tries to do everything right but everything goes wrong. He’s a descendant of one of King Arthur’s knights only he doesn’t know he’s a descendant until he tries to steal Excalibur and he doesn’t know he’s stealing Excalibur until it’s too late and the fate of the world is in his hands.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and read by Allan Corduner, I have listened to many a time. I listen to audio books while preparing supper, or cooking for fun, or cleaning out the refrigerator, or sewing at the kitchen table. Usually, during these times I would be hard pressed to find my children as they make themselves scarce when they think I might need someone to dry dishes, or worse yet, wash dishes, so imagine my delight while I was listening to this particular book my eldest slowly making his way into the kitchen and asking me what I was listening to. He stood there in the kitchen – he didn’t pull up a chair, he just stood and leaned against the counter under the spell of Corduner and his reading. That was also the first time an audio book disappeared, and I found it because I heard him playing it in his room that night.

By the time they graduate from high school, I try to have a scrapbook done that chronicles my children’s school days. It was when I began working on my daughter’s scrapbook that I listened to Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle and read by David Ackroyd. This is a story about rum-running off the coast of Rhode Island during prohibition and about two boys who are changed by a grisly find on the beach.

Some other favorites of mine are:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys read by Jorjeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, and Michael Crouch is a fictional account of the true life sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a transport ship carrying refugees and German military fleeing the coming Russians.

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer and read by Scott Brick is the first in a series, but is enjoyable as a stand alone, about an archivist that bucks security protocol to impress a childhood sweetheart. This leads to a dictionary once owned by George Washington which then leads to murder.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and read by Tony Goldwyn is non-fiction and tells the story of a serial killer in Chicago during World’s Fair in 1893.

I could go on, but what about you? Are you an audio book fan? What are your favorites?

 

March Madness

Are you caught up in the NCAA March Madness College Basketball Tournament? My family loves March Madness and we each have our own bracket. It is a family tradition and the winner gets to decide where we will go out to eat. I’m already out this year. I’m usually the first one out of contention each year because I don’t look at stats, I don’t look at the season, I just go with my heart. My husband on the other hand actually thinks about his bracket; he analyzes the team record, thinks about coaches and individual players, and makes an informed decision. He usually doesn’t fare any better than I do.

So, since I’ve been thinking basketball lately, I thought I would share some books that are available through Topsham Public Library that may be of interest to other basketball fans.

 

The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry by John Feinstein is a look at the recruiting wars, the high pressure stakes, and the sometimes ugly rivalry between big time college basketball powerhouses University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke, and North Carolina State.

 

Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA by Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss is an unveiling of the dark side of the NCAA. They argue the organization exploits the student-athletes it is meant to protect.

 

 

In 2016, the world of basketball mourned the loss of Pat Summitt, the most successful women’s basketball coach whose career spanned 38 years. The Final Season: the Perseverance of Pat Summitt by Maria M. Cornelius covers her career and her battle with early onset Alzheimers.

 

1966 is a historic year in basketball: it was the first time a college coach started five African-American players, and if that wasn’t enough, they went on to unseat the then nationally top-ranked University of Kentucky. Coach Haskins tells this amazing story in Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever.

 

Usually it’s the sports legends that write their stories, but if you want to know what it’s like to sit the bench, try Don’t Put Me in Coach: My Incredible NCAA Journey from the End of the Bench to the End of the Bench by Mark Titus.

 

 

 

Save the Date!

If you are anything like me, you are already planning your summer. We need to make the most of our short summers here in Maine, and enjoy it as much as we can. I am happy to announce a new program that you do not want to miss!

In conjunction with our Summer Reading Program, Topsham Public Library is planning a new event – Staycation 2017 on July 29, 2017! We are still in the planning process, but things are shaping up and we are getting excited! There will be something for everyone.

Principal Rineer from Williams-Cone Elementary, Principal Dedek from Woodside Elementary, plus other local celebrities will be our special guests reading to children, and for adults we already have Gary Rainford, Maine poet, and Paul Doiron, Maine author, lined up to read and we hope to have one or two other special guests added to the schedule.

Our teen programming for that day is still in the planning phase, but we have not forgotten about them!

As well as our schedule of special guests, please bring a bag lunch for a picnic on our beautiful grounds. We will be serving up a free frozen treat (from a local favorite) to our guests and we will have a couple of cornhole games available around the grounds. Bring your frisbee!

Keep and eye out for more information and further details. Enjoy our special guests, enjoy our grounds, and enjoy your community!

 

I Wish My Library Would…

 

Have you ever thought I wish my library would…Well, now there is a convenient way to let us know what you think. There is a new suggestion box at Topsham Public Library, and we want your clever ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

We are also looking for your thoughts about our magazine collection. We want a collection that is relevant and useful to our patrons. What magazines do you like? What do you want that we don’t have? Throughout the library, you will see colorful, skinny questionnaires asking for your input on our magazine collection, so grab one and fill it out. (Of course, you may also pick up a questionnaire at the circulation desk.) Once you have filled out the survey, you may put it in the suggestion box or you may give it to someone at the circulation desk.

An Evening of Horror

Join us at Topsham Public Library for a fright-filled evening of fiction as we plumb the depths of madness and the macabre. On Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 6pm some of Maine’s darkest minds will gather and discuss the craft of horror writing.

Horror Writers of Maine is a relatively new organization that promises to grow in strength and numbers, connecting readers to high quality authorship in the field of supernatural fiction.

Joining us for the evening will be:

Katherine Silva, the Midcoast Maine author of the Monstrum Chronicles series. She is a connoisseur of coffee, and a victim of crazy cat shenanigans. Her second book in the series, Aequitas, was nominated for a 2013 Maine Literary award. She published her first comedy in November 2013. She is a member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, New England Horror Writers Association, Horror Writers of Maine, and founder of the Midcoast Maine Halloween Readings series. Currently she resides in Waldoboro, Maine working on the rest of the books in the Monstrum Chronicles as well as other projects.

Duane Coffill was born in Brunswick, Maine, and grew up in Freeport where he spent his time reading horror, suspense, and his favorite novel Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. He loves movies! He loves all kinds of horror, action, suspense, and even romance movies with his wife, Shelley. Duane began writing at the age of twelve and has written and published three novels and four poems.  Beyond writing, his career is an advanced computers and computer software with over fifteen years’ experience in various computer training programs. He is the Founder/President of Horror Writers of Maine, Horror Authors Alliance and is a proud member of New England Horror Writers. He has appeared on podcasts and radio, including, ‘Positively Maine’ with Tory Ryden, broadcast at Portland Radio Group on WCSH 6 radio.  He has recently self-published his first book, Cursed Darkness for the Kindle and print versions. Duane is at work on two novels and three short stories. He currently resides in Windham, Maine with his beautiful wife, Shelley.

David Price is a writer and editor who lives in Biddeford, Maine and has worked as a hardwood floor contractor for more than thirty years. He is a member of the New England Horror Writers, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the Horror Writers of Maine and the Horror Writers Association. David is author of the paranormal suspense novella Dead in the USA and the upcoming novel, Lightbringers.  He can be reached @_David_Price_ or davidpriceauthor.com

April Hawks is a coffee addict, Minecraft enthusiast and avid reader. She has a zombie plan, but it is a preciously guarded secret. April’s first publication was in Bleed from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, with several more short stories appearing in various genre anthologies. Her next publication will be in Northern Frights anthology. April’s big projects in the works are a fantasy novel and a mystery novel. She can be found on Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Pinterest and Instagram

Morgan Sylvia is a writer, metal-head, coffee addict, beer snob, Aquarius, and  work in progress. A former obituarist, she lives in Maine and is now working as a full-time freelance writer. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, most recently in Wicked Witches. She also has stories in the forthcoming horror anthologies Twice Upon an Apocalypse and Northern Frights. In 2014, she released her first book, Whispers From The Apocalypse, an apocalyptic horror poetry collection. Her debut horror novel, Abode, will be released from Bloodshot Books this spring. You can follow her on Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest, WordPress, or Twitter.

Peter N. Dudar is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of A Requiem for Dead Flies and recipient of the Solstice Award for his 2015 novella Where Spiders Fear to Spin.  A graduate of the University at Albany in New York State, Dudar now resides in Lisbon Falls, Maine, where he has been writing and publishing fiction for the past twenty years.  When not writing fiction, Dudar also pens a film review column for Cinema Knife Fight, and keeps a blog on WordPress called Dead By Friday.  He is a proud member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers of Maine.  Look For his latest short story to appear in HWoM’s new anthology, Northern Frights, which arrives this spring.

Don’t miss it! You will be screaming for more!