We Are Thankful

day323_lowresOne of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. I haven’t always appreciated the idea of thankfulness, but I have learned a few things along the way and have tried to develop an attitude of gratitude.

The Topsham Public Library is thankful, too, and here is a list of some of the many things we are thankful for:

  • The Community. Topsham is a great place to live, and the support from the community has grown, and we do not take that for granted. Thank you!
  • The Volunteers. Every week dozens of individuals take time out of their day and assist us in our daily tasks. Thank you!
  • Friends of the Topsham Public Library. This organization, comprised of volunteers, supports our library, and without them our programming would suffer. Thank you!
  • The Garden is another project not possible without our volunteers. It is delightful working at a place where I can go outside for my breaks and stroll through a peaceful garden. Thank you!
  • The Crooker Gallery. Not only do I have a garden to stroll through on my breaks, but I have an art gallery to wander around as well. Thank you!
  • The Telescope. Through Mariah’s vision and the generosity of a grant, the Topsham Public Library has a telescope that can be borrowed by our patrons. Thank you!
  • The Book Groups. From elementary school aged children to adults, we have book groups for everyone. Thank you!
  • The Computers. Prior to working here, I was not aware of the need to have computer access available to the public. I have since learned of the need and am glad we can offer internet access to the public. Thank you!
  • Your Donations. It is through your generosity and donating your books, music, and movies that we can host the Friends’ Annual Book Sale. Thank you!
  • The Business Roundtable and our Business Sponsors – We have a great network of local businesses that care about the town they operate in. Thank you!

The list could go on. Who have I missed? Who are you thankful for?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and let someone know you are thankful for them!

Bulletin Board Update

Photo Jun 25, 4 20 29 PM (2)croppedWith the holiday season fast approaching, I thought this a great time to check out what is on the bulletin board and let you know what’s going on in the community. So here are just a few of the events posted on the Topsham Public Library bulletin board:

  • There are many events on the bulletin board, but before we get to those, the Directory of Commonly Requested Community Services list collected by United Way is posted. This contains a plethora of confidential agencies and resources available to those in need. Here they are in electronic form: DIRECTORY Oct 2015 and Holiday List 2015.
  • Prodigies is a concert series, one performance at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brunswick, featuring Maine prodigy Christopher Staknys with the Maine Chamber Ensemble performing Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Chopin. For more information:
  • December 4, 5, and 6 enjoy the WFCP Home Time Radio Hour 2015 a 1950s holiday edition performed by Freeport Players. For more information:
  • Do you know November is senior pet month? Older animals make great pets, so dogs and cats 8 years or older are fee-waived all month long. Contact Coastal Humane Society for more information:
  • Maine Fiverarts, 13 Maine Street in Topsham, presents: Hooked Master Paintings and Neckware through December 31. The reception for the show is December 5, 11a.m.-2p.m.
  • It is that time of year! UU Church of Brunswick, corner of Pleasant and Middle Street, is hosting their Holiday Fair on December 5, 9a.m. -2p.m. They are featuring wreaths and greens, arts and crafts, book signings, breakfast, soup and pie lunch, and live music.

This is just a sampling of the many notices and events that are posted on our bulletin board. Next time you are in, check it out!!

Elvis Is In The Building

The following is the fourth in a series in which I interview each staff member of the Topsham Public Library. 

On your next visit to the Topsham Public Library, if you are quiet, you might hear someone singing out back. That would be Julie – she is usually singing or humming a little ditty to herself. It might be a hit single by her current favorite singer, Taylor Swift, or it could be an oldie but goodie by the likes of Elvis, Led Zeppelin, Carole King, or Cyndi Lauper just to name a few.

johnny questLike the rest of us, Julie devours books in her spare time. Her first favorite book was a Johnny Quest graphic novel (she still has one).  Even to this day, Julie prefers a good graphic novel over fiction, but she will not choose between sci-fi and fantasy as she does love a steamy, bodice-ripping romance whether set in space or in fairy land. And you can find her reading them all on her e-reader as she is one of a few staff members who appreciate the devices.

Julie also gardens (but it might not be her favorite thing to do…), enjoys walking some of the lovely trails we have in Maine (and I’m sure in Vermont, too, as that is where she is originally from), and takes care of her cat.

Given the choice of being hairy all over or bald, Julie chooses to be bald, and that just proves how smart she is. Not only is she smart, and detailed oriented, but she is SUPER organized. Of all the staff members, Julie’s desk is always the neatest. The magnets on her bulletin board are all lined up in a nice row; the papers she has pinned up are not crooked and they are spaced evenly. Everything has its place.

Julie prefers the ocean to the mountains, summer over winter, take-out over eating-in, Mexican food over Chinese food, mustard over ketchup, chocolate before vanilla, pie instead of cake, and eggs over-easy. She is firm in her preference of Batman over Superman – there is no doubt! And she would rather be invisible than be able to read minds.

When asked what she would do if money was no object, Julie said she would travel beginning in Italy then making her way through the rest of Europe. Wherever she goes, rest assured, she will have the most organized suitcase of all.



Happy Halloween!

jack-o-lanterns-2048x2048-HSaturday is Halloween! Are your costumes ready? (Miss Mariah has been planning her costume for weeks now!) Are you going to be a ghost or goblin or a favorite character from a favorite book? Make sure you dress warm under those costumes so you don’t get cold and carry a flashlight or glow sticks with you so you are visible as you walk along from house to house. And remember – you don’t have to eat all those treats in one night! (When I was little, I used to come home on Halloween night and dump my bag of candy on the floor and just look at all the yumminess. I sorted them into piles and then resorted them into different piles.)

Don’t forget – we are open 9am-4pm Saturday, so swing by the Topsham Public Library and show us your costume!

Those who are driving – please drive carefully and be a little extra cautious Saturday night.

(It’s also Daylight Savings this weekend, so don’t forget to set your clocks back Saturday night, too!)


We start again next week!

Rare Readers! Our book discussion group is starting up again next week. On Thursday 29th at 2pm and 6pm, we will be discussing The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. We always welcome new members so if you would like to discuss this book, you are very welcome to attend either of the sessions. Can’t make the discussion? Tell us what you think by commenting here!

Here’s a message from one of our members, Amy, on The Art Forger:

Getting a little reading in for Rare Reads in Quebec! Finished and enjoyed it!


No Excuses!

Joy of the Pen submissions have been received and we are eagerly awaiting the Joy of the Pen Reception on Saturday, November 14 1-3pm here at the Topsham Public Library. We have been encouraged by the growing number of submissions we receive each year for this program. The number of submissions is evidence of the vibrant writing community that exists in Topsham and beyond.

Are you one of those people who, upon hearing that Joy of the Pen has rolled around again, excitedly dusts off a piece e-b-white-writing-routine-quotesof your work and spruces it up to submit? And as you tidy up this piece, ideas and characters pop into your imagination for other pieces, and you tell yourself that this time you will keep writing and get on to paper the worlds that are in your head. At first, you write hurriedly and excitedly because things are so clear and the characters are so alive, but then things become blurry and what was once so clear has become dark and difficulties with timing or plot arise. Or perhaps a story wants to be written one way, but you don’t want to write it that way, so you decide to let it rest for a bit, but you will return to it in a little while – at least that’s what you tell yourself. Then a few weeks pass, maybe a few months, could be a few years later you stumble upon it and guilt floods in. You are a terrible writer – a terrible person – what kind of human being are you?! (My mind pictures over-dramatic damsels lying slumped over the writing table weeping in despair.)

Well no more! No more are we going to languish in self-loathing! No more are we going to keep silent the stories that war in us! Instead, we are going to encourage one another to do what we have dreamed of doing! We are going to help each other overcome the fear of doing something new and slay the dragon that keeps us from telling the story the way it needs to be told. Whether a new writer or an old pro, we can help one another. Beginning November 2015, the first Tuesday of every month (so the first meeting is November 3, 6-7pm) the Topsham Public Library will host Writer’s Meetup. It will be facilitated by Melissa Walsh (she facilitated our writing programs that were part of our summer reading program this past summer), and it is an informal time (with snacks!) to meet new people, make new friends, and talk all things writing. This is a free program and open to the public, so there is absolutely no reason why you can’t join us!


There’s a Body in the Library!

lindaIt was the end of a very long day at the end of a very long week. The gray and gloom inside my sparsely furnished office reflected the gray and gloom of the dreary day outside. My P.I. business was limping along. Things were grim. I sat at my desk contemplating my dismal future. Looking at My Girl Friday, I said, “All good things must come to an end, sweetheart.” And being the cactus that she is, I got no response, but a prickly tension filled the air.

I was just about to call it quits when I heard the click clack of shoes on the wooden stairs and the jangle of bracelets on someone’s wrist. Suddenly there was a figure silhouetted in my office door window. I sat back down and with a tone of, “yeah, what d’ya want” in my voice I said, “Come in.”

A long haired beauty entered the room. She took in the room and my situation, and a look of doubt was plastered all over her face. She handed me her business card which read Cyndi Burne, Assistant Director, Topsham Public Library. I told her to sit down as I poured her a cup of tepid coffee which she rejected and said, “It’s cold in here.”

After some bit of hesitation on her part and a whole lot of begging on mine, we got down to business. The long and short of it was, a body was found in the library and the police were stumped. She needed help, and she needed it fast.

“Well,” I said, “it so happens that you have caught me between cases. Tell me what you know.”

Cyndi explained that Julie was the one to open the library that morning and she received a panic laden phone call from a her at 8:07am right after the body was found in the fiction stacks between PEN and QUE. That was my first clue. “Someone likes mysteries,” I said, “to place a body between Louise Penny and Ellery Queen is a dead giveaway.”

“Linda loves mysteries. She’s our mystery expert.” Cyndi said.

Hmmm. Linda is a mystery expert, I thought to myself. Then I added, “Who is Linda?”

“Linda is one of our staff members. She facilitates our Mystery Readers’ Roundtable Book Group. She has been with us for fourteen years. She is originally from Ohio, and moved here because her husband was in the Navy.”

I pondered this for a moment then said, “I wish I could have seen the body before it was moved.”

“Oh, the body hasn’t been moved. Dale, our custodian, is still dealing with the plugged toilet in the children’s bathroom. He hasn’t been able to get to the body yet.”

“Lead the way,” I said.

Upon entering the library, I was greeted by the library staff, and the woman I took to be Julie was still swooning from her grisly discovery.

“Is everyone here and accounted for?” I asked.

“Hello. I’m Susan Preece. I’m the director of the Topsham Public Library. First, I just want you to know we are all eager to help you and will fully cooperate with you in this investigation. Most of us are here, but Dale is in the children’s bathroom dealing with a plugged toilet. Dave is stacking boxes of books in the Friends’ closet. Linda is the only one missing.”

Hmmm. Linda is unaccounted for, I thought to myself.

I looked over this ragged bunch of employees. Oh, they all looked sweet and tidy, but I know that librarians are not to be trifled with and a more dangerous creature has yet to be found. I would have to be careful with this crowd.

Susan directed me to the body. Some rascal of the most dastardly sort wearing a Denver Broncos sweatshirt lay dead between the stacks – an arrow sticking out of his chest.

I pondered the recent events as I made my way back to the circulation desk. I was just going to ask them to request Private Investigation for Dummies when I heard one of them gasp.

“What?” I asked.

Yet another stepped forward and said, “I just noticed the book drop had some items in it. They must be from last night! Once the police were alerted, they blocked off the entrance to the library so no one would have been able to return items today.”

“Who are you and what are the items?” I asked, knowing this was a clue of the colossal kind.

“I’m Lynne and it’s two seasons of Midsomer Mystery,” she replied. I noticed the furtive glances they all cast at one another.

“What? What are you not telling me?” I demanded.

Mariah, who I deduced was the children’s librarian because of the guitar she carried with her, answered in a quiet voice, “Midsomer Mystery is one of Linda’s favorite shows.”

Hmmm. Linda’s favorite show, I thought.

Suddenly Helen exclaimed, “There is a disc missing!”

Instantly the staff began chattering wildly amongst themselves. Once I restored order, Emma informed me that only under great stress would Linda return an item missing a disc. It just wasn’t something she would do. Then Cyndi received a call from the chief of police informing her that a witness reported seeing someone wearing an I LOVE ALASKA sweatshirt speeding away from the library last night. Again in her quiet voice, Mariah told me Linda had spent five weeks this past summer visiting family in Alaska.

Hmmm. Linda went to Alaska, I thought.

Dale, finally emerging from the children’s bathroom, spoke up and said, “Weren’t the Patriots and the Packers playing last night? That could be why she was speeding away. They are her favorite teams. She wouldn’t want to miss that game.”

“Tell me all you know about Linda,” I said excitedly, “everything depends on it!”

Everyone began speaking at once. “She likes ketchup on her burgers,” “She prefers lobster over steak,” “She would take salad over soup, fries over coleslaw, and bacon and eggs over pancakes!”

From the back, barely audible over the others, Sharon yelled, “She wants to go to Rome!”

Hmmm. Linda wants to go to Rome, I thought.

We all stopped and looked at one another. Then without speaking, Susan led the way to the travel section. Just as I suspected, all the travel books for Rome were gone!

There was no time to lose! I was going to catch her before she made her getaway. I was hot on her trail, and if I stopped her the publicity would bring so much work I could hire a voluptuous secretary to water My Girl Friday. Acting as one, we all made for our vehicles and raced to Linda’s.

Once there, I barged into her home. I can tell you, Linda was quite surprised to see us all there.

“What is going on?!” She exclaimed.

All at once everyone started talking. “Quiet!” I yelled. “Linda, I have come to take you in, you no good scoundrel. The trail of clues leads directly to you.”

“What are you talking about?” Linda queried.

Cyndi explained the situation to her and Linda proclaimed her innocence, but I was having none of it. Then Cyndi’s phone rang. After a quick conversation, she hung up. “That was the police chief. They’ve arrested the perpetrators. We can all go home now.”

“Who? Who was the culprit?” I demanded.

“The police have arrested a travelling minstrel group. Evidently the man was a part of their act. It is a case of  a Hunger Games re-enactment gone terribly wrong.”

When the staff saw the dejection all over my face, they offered to get me a cup of tea. We arrived back at the library just as Dave was finishing in the closet.

“What? What did I miss?” He asked.

The preceding story is the third in a series of staff interviews. Linda is our mystery expert and facilitator of our Mystery Readers Roundtable which meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month (Sept-May) at 3 pm. 

Chores Can Be Fun! (Really, they can!)

cleaning-roomThis past week, I rolled up my shirtsleeves and decluttered my house. From the tip-top of the roof to the dark corners of my basement. (Well, that one corner of the basement I left alone. I’m afraid there may be a body hidden under all that stuff.) I sorted through the books, then attacked the trunks and the plastic totes. I made piles; piles for me to sort through, piles for my kids to sort through, and piles for my husband to sort through. There was no excuse worthy enough to get them out of their given tasks. I was waging war.

I sorted through everything: baby clothes (and my baby is now 14 – there comes a time when you must just let things go), quilting supplies, basketball trading cards (which, unfortunately, he refuses to part with) and winter gear. We have given things away to friends, sent loads of stuff to the charity shops, and even more loads to the recycling bins at the transfer station. And I feel great! As I decluttered my house, I decluttered my mind and body.

You may be asking yourself where all this is going. I will tell you, but first I have a confession to make. I do not like computers. I am not comfortable with all this technology and how public our lives have become, but recently I have discovered not all is bad. I have purchased a “smartphone.” I did it begrudgingly, but my children are involved in sports and coaches rely on Facebook to communicate with the teams and their parents. I found it difficult staying on top of schedules as I do not carry my laptop around with me, so I finally caved, and now I am “plugged in.”

Bear with me – just one more item before I get to the point of all this rambling on.  I love audiobooks! My absolute favorite audiobook is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and read by Allan Corduner. I think Mr. Corduner’s reading made this book come alive in ways I would have missed had I read it myself. Now, you do have to be careful with audiobooks, too. Some readers can really destroy a book, but when you’ve found a great narrator it seems like the colors in the fictional world are just a little bit brighter and the characters are a tad bit clearer.

Finally, to my point. My smartphone can play audiobooks!! Some of you have been enjoying this ability for ages now, and I wish I had made the discovery sooner. For me, it feels like opportunities have exploded right before my eyes. Through my Topsham Public Library, the online resource called Maine InfoNet Download Library is available to me for free, and once I downloaded Overdrive (the app used to download the audiobooks) to my phone, I had a whole library at my fingertips! When I was cleaning out the attic, I listened to Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and read by Simon Prebble. When I was ridding the basement of spiderwebs (ewww!), I listened to Watership Down by Richard Adams and read by Ralph Cosham. Not once did I have to stop what I was doing to change cds. Not one of the cds skipped or stuttered at the most exciting moment because there weren’t any cds to skip or stutter. In my car, or in my garden, or in my kitchen, I can listen to audiobooks. Now, that is progress!

If you need help downloading an audiobook or an ebook (No, I don’t have an ereader and no, I don’t want one, either, but some people love them. We are all different and that’s why the Topsham Public Library is great because it has something for everyone!) we have a volunteer, Trisha, who is available Tuesday mornings  from 9am-11am, to help you get set up. Check it out!!

I look forward to doing my chores now that audiobooks can go with me wherever I go.

It’s Banned Book Week!!

We get pretty excited about Banned Book Week here at the Topsham Public Library (Emma is absolutely giddy!) Every year during the last week of September the American Library Association (ALA) sponsors Banned Book Week. ALA coordinates this event to educate the public that censorship is still a thing. The ALA also maintains a list of the top ten challenged books, and the objections given for each title for each year.

In celebration of Banned Book Week, some of the Topsham Public Library staff members wrote about a favorite banned or challenged book.


I chose Summer of My German Soldier By Bette Greene. It has been a long time since I have read this book, but I remember that it is the first book to make me cry. This is a the story of a friendship that develops between a girl and a German POW, and it is set in Arkansas. Greene explores themes of personal value, kindness from unexpected places, and evil in those who are closest to us. I may just have to read it again.



My favorite banned book on this year’s list is Hop On Pop! hoponpopAccording to Robert P. Doyle, from  AL Direct, April 30, 2014, this book was challenged because, the book “encourages children to use violence against their fathers.”  Hop On Pop  was groundbreaking in 1963 when it was published because it was a silly book that was fun and accessible for the young reader. Easy readers, as librarians and teachers refer to books like Hop On Pop, feature controlled language, simple repetitive sentences and strong visual clues to put the words in context for beginning readers. The whole point of them is to encourage reading. No child that I have ever met has used  Hop on Pop  as an excuse to be violent to their fathers. On the contrary, most kids and Pops I know relish the silliness and fun word play with each other!  After 51 years, it is still a classic and one of Theodore Geisel’s best!



This year I’m going for banned books that are enjoyable to read. In that category, the Harry Potter series wins hands down. They’re exciting, imaginative, and just plain fun. One doesn’t even notice that they deal with the problems every child faces while growing up or the many injustices which exist in our society. There are great lessons in these books and so much fun in the learning.





If you enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy by Susan Collins or sci-fi films like Equilibrium or Snowpiercer thenbrave you have, in part, to thank Aldous Huxley and the vision of the future he put forth in Brave New World. Considered to be a dystopian classic along with 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and A Handmaid’s Tale, this book has consistently hit most banned and challenged lists since it was published in 1932. In fact, it was the 16th most banned book in the 20th century. Why? Here is the ironic twist: for a book that is critical of sexual promiscuity and numbing emotions with drugs, it has been criticized and banned for promoting the very same things (which makes one wonder if the would-be banners have actually read the book). Brave New World is by far my most favorite dystopian novel. I read it as a teenager, and it is, in my opinion, the one that has proved most prophetic. When I think of the world that Huxley predicted, I am astonished at how closely it resembles the world we live in today.



My challenged book choice is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  I really enjoy memoirs and this one was done well.  I believe it is challenged for its description of the dysfunctional childhood the author experienced. This was the medium Walls chose to communicate her experience and it was successful.

She also wrote a follow-up true life novel, Half Broke Horses based on her mother’s childhood.  Check that one out as well.  There’s a bit of dysfunction in all of us!






Gone with the Wind is my choice.  I read this years ago and really liked it.  Scarlett is a force to reckon with as she goes about trying to survive during the times after the civil war.  I would say that it is on the banned book list because of the slavery issue and the Civil War.




I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian with my daughter who was a reluctant reader in the 5th or 6th grade. It was the one book that captured my daughter’s heart and her attention. She read it voraciously, several times and it is considered among her favorites. She read it for the some of the reasons it was banned, including “depictions of bullying.” Bullying is a topic profoundly present in middle school, and it is helpful for students to read about how other people lived with bullying or overcame it, because it can help a reader give voice to his or her own struggles. It’s also a story about a kid who lived in poverty and refused to be categorized as a lost cause.




Now Julie couldn’t pick just one. The following are her choices for this year:




The graphic novel tells the story of a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the reintroduction of a religious state.







The children’s book was inspired by a real-life story of two male penguins raising a baby chick.








Book about teens dying of cancer who find love.

Want to celebrate Banned Books Week with us? You can find banned book lists, social media banners and profile pics here: or you could check out a banned book at the library (we have a display).