Odd Items at Topsham Public Library

Naturally, Maine is the place to be in the summer time, and already Topsham Public Library is noticing an influx of people “from away.” One such visitor was pleasantly surprised to discover we have telescopes that can be checked out by our patrons. This led to a further discussion about the binoculars and fishing poles that are also available for check out. The gentleman remarked that at his local library, they offer small tool kits for check out to their patrons. Some libraries, like New Gloucester Public Library, even have a collection of bake ware, and they have canoes and kayaks available as well.

Libraries aren’t just for books anymore. Come visit Topsham Public Library and check out what’s available to read, listen to, watch, and participate in. You might just be surprised!

The Great American Read Book List Released

PBS is hosting a national contest, The Great American Read, to engage people in choosing America’s favorite book. On April 20 a list of 100 books was released, and on May 22 at 8pm PBS will air a launch special “kicking off a summer of reading and voting.” Then, we have all summer to read what we want from the list and to vote for our favorite one. In Fall 2018, PBS will air seven more episodes following the “quest to find America’s most beloved book.”

So, this list has been released! I was excited to see it, and I was surprised by the selection. I’ve read a little over one-third of the books on the list. Naturally, my list of 100 books would look different than this list, as I’m sure your list would look different as well. It’s fun though, to think about what books you would or would not have on your list.

From The Great American Read website, here are some frequently asked questions:

How were the top 100 books chosen? 

PBS and the producers worked with the public opinion polling service “YouGov” to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel. Approximately 7,200 people participated.

How did you narrow that list to the top 100?

The results were tallied and organized based on the selection criteria and overseen by an advisory panel of 13 literary industry professionals. The criteria for inclusion on the top 100 list were as follows:

  1. Each author was limited to one title on the list (to keep the list varied).
  2. Books published in series or featuring ongoing characters counted as one eligible entry on the list (e.g. the Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings) to increase variety.
  3. Books could be from anywhere in the world as long as they were published in English.
  4. Only fiction could be included in the poll.
  5. Each advisory panel member was permitted to select one book for discussion and possible inclusion on the top 100 list from the longer list of survey results.

What books are included on the list?

The list contains a broad range of fictional titles, authors, time periods, countries, genres and subject matter. The list includes books from as far back as the 1600s and as recent as 2016. From beloved world literature to contemporary best sellers, many categories are represented: 20th century American classics, thrillers, young adult novels, sci-fi/fantasy, adventure, historical fiction, romantic stories, and books that represent the human experience told from a diverse range of perspectives.

Why are there only fiction books included? Why aren’t religious works included?

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is searching for the country’s best-loved novel. While GAR recognizes the broad categories of books available, they chose to narrow their focus to works of fiction because it would be impossible to cover them all over the course of an eight-part series. .

How does the voting work?

Voting will open online and on social media with the launch of the two-hour premiere episode and continue throughout the summer, leading up to the finale in October 2018. Over the summer, viewers can vote online and through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter. In the fall, viewers will also be able to cast their votes by using SMS and toll-free voting.

Have you checked out the list? Have you read them all? Will you be participating in The Great American Read and casting your vote?

If you would like a paper copy of the list, Topsham Public Library can get one for you – just ask at the circulation desk!

New Development Coordinator at Topsham Public Library

I would like to introduce you to Barbara Hawkes the new Development Coordinator at Topsham Public Library. Barbara and her family have recently moved back to Maine and when she heard of the opportunity here, she applied. You will see from her experience that she has worked in a variety of areas that are real assets in her role as Development Coordinator.

Before the return to Maine, Barbara was living in Naples, Florida where she served at Hodges University as Director of Lifelong Learning, Director of Community Outreach, and as an academic librarian with English as a Second Language responsibilities. Prior to her work in the academic world, Barbara spent twenty years in Portland, Maine conducting research in the environmental engineering field, and for ten years after that she was awarded a grant to help family services organizations and  government departments work together to help children transition to kindergarten.

It is evident that Barbara is adept at working with public and private sectors and helping them work together toward a common goal. As a matter of fact, that is one opportunity she likes to tackle: “I enjoy bringing different groups together that don’t know each other.” And that is what being a Development Coordinator offers her. She likes to engage with people and get the broader community involved. She wants to develop relationships with the business community in order to partner with and support the mission of Topsham Public Library.

In these times, where money is tight, being a development coordinator has its challenges, but Barbara is ready. She is looking for ways to partner and leverage resources. And problems, well Barbara likes to look at problems “and find the opportunities in them.”

As well as her responsibilities here, Barbara keeps busy with her twelve year old twins who both play hockey, so whether she likes it or not, these days Barbara is a bit of an early bird to get that much coveted ice time. She also likes to relax by walking and practicing yoga when she has the time.

Although she bemoans how little time she has to read for fun (don’t we all), her recent favorites include All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. And like us all, Barbara has a chink in her armor – a sweet tooth. She prefers chocolate to vanilla, cake over pie, and a doughnut instead of a muffin. Oh, and ditch the salad, her dark side wants the fries.

If her path had taken a different turn, she would have wanted to be a journalist and/or a writer. Poetry would have a major place in her writing. She has written poetry and when she was an undergraduate, she had five of her works were chosen for her collegiate poetry publication.

We are glad to have Barbara on board, and we hope you give her a great Topsham Public Library welcome!

The Great American Read Presented by PBS

Have you heard about The Great American Read? PBS is hosting a national contest to engage people in choosing America’s favorite book. On April 20 a list of 100 books will be released, and on May 22 at 8pm PBS will air a launch special “kicking off a summer of reading and voting.”  We have all summer to read what we want from the list and to vote for our favorite one. Then, in Fall 2018, PBS will air seven more episodes following the “quest to find America’s most beloved book.”

I am intrigued and excited to see the list of the books. What do you think? Do you want to play? I’ll keep you posted.


Author Bruce Coffin Visits Topsham Public Library During National Library Week

National Library Week is April 8-14 and in celebration, Topsham Public Library welcomes author Bruce Coffin on Thursday, April 12 at 6pm. Coffin is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron mystery series and a former detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement.

At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Bruce also spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, where he earned the Director’s Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive. All of his experience forms the background and provides authenticity to his books.

Bruce is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters In Crime New England, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. He is also a regular contributor to the Maine Crime Writers Blog and Murder Books Blog.

Books will be available for purchase and signing. Our programs are free and open to the public. So, come on over and celebrate libraries, reading, and community!

Get Ready! April is Poetry Month

April is fast approaching, and if you are not aware, April is Poetry Month. Below you will find my feeble attempt at rhyme, and after your eye-rolling and guffaw suppression is over, come to Topsham Public Library and pick up a collection of real poetry.


As I sit here at my desk

I consider the cold white mess

And I will not give in to despair

Cuz  spring is in the air! 


Tulips, daffodils and crocus 

will soon raise their colorful heads

and I will grab the closest book

and read it through in the flower beds. 


Through Spring, summer, fall, and winter

and winter, and winter, and winter

Topsham Public Library stands 

for one and all to join and re-enter. 

Mayhem at Topsham Public Library

The Tuesday Mayhem Society cordially invites you to join them on Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 1pm at Topsham Public Library for an afternoon of murder, madness, and strange fiction. Come hear some of Maine’s brightest stars of dark literature as they share stories and poetry in their second annual literary celebration.

Authors will include Peter N. Dudar and Morgan Sylvia. Dudar is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of A Requiem for Dead Flies and the Solstice Award-winning novella Where Spiders Fear to Spin and proud member of the New England Horror Writers and a founding member of the local writers group, The Tuesday Mayhem Society. His latest novel, The Goat Parade, was released in February and is available now in trade paperback and on Kindle.

Sylvia is an Aquarius, a metalhead, a coffee addict, a beer snob, and a work in progress. A former obituarist, she is now working as a full-time freelance writer. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in several places, including Wicked Witches, Wicked Haunted, Northern Frights, Twice Upon An Apocalypse, and Endless Apocalypse. In 2013, she released Whispers From The Apocalypse, a horror poetry collection. Her first novel, Abode, was released from Bloodshot Books in July 2017. She also writes for Antichrist Metalzine.

The event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing.


Keeping Track of What I’ve Read

At the circulation desk, we are often asked if we keep a record of what people have read. Sometimes people forget if they’ve read a certain book or not, or they’ve read a great book and cannot remember the title, and people just want us to help them remember.

Topsham Public Library does not keep records of what patrons have checked out. Once a person returns an item, and the item is checked in, the item disappears from the patron’s record and we cannot see what they have checked out in the past. Privacy is important and to protect the privacy of our patrons, we do not keep track of what people have checked out.

If you are like me, you need some way to remember what you’ve read so that you don’t check out the same book over and over again, or to help you remember a really good book you’ve read. I have little notebooks. Right now I have 3 full notebooks and I’m half-way through my fourth. There are problems with this. The main problem I have is remember where I put my notebooks. Not only do I have to keep track of where my notebooks are, but I don’t carry those notebooks with me, so they do me no good when I’m at the library or the bookstore and the notebooks are at home.

I have decided to try something new. goodreads is an app that keeps track of what you’ve read. Not only does it keep track of what you’ve read, you can keep a to-read list as well, so you’re not wasting time figuring out what to read next or trying to remember a title that you’ve been wanting to read.

goodreads has been around for years, but I have been hesitant to sign up because I liked my notebook system and I try to stay away from technology if at all possible. My decision to try goodreads has also corresponded with my attempt to simplify. My house is littered with little pieces of paper covered in titles that I want to read but haven’t got to yet and the papers are multiplying like mice and it looks cluttered and messy and aaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhhhhhhhhh. I need it all in one place. goodreads also lets you rate what you’ve read using a 5 star system, and if you enjoy writing reviews of the books you’ve read, you can do that too.

Now, goodreads is an app, so they try and get you to connect with social media, and to add friends but I won’t have it. You do not have to connect your goodreads account to social media if you don’t want to. If you want to, they make it easy for you, but I have not opted for that. And know, if you do write a review, that review may be seen by any goodreads user who looks up that title.

Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes. So far so good.

Do you have a system to keep track of what you’ve read? What is it? Are there other apps that help you keep track of your reading out there that you like?

Topsham Public Library Closings

The snow is coming! At least that’s what they say. So, for everyone’s safety the Topsham Public Library is closing at 5pm today, March 7, and will not be open tomorrow, Thursday, March 8.

You can find out information from us on our website, facebook ( and twitter (@TopshamLibrary). Other useful accounts to look out for are the Town of Topsham facebook ( and twitter (@TopshamTown), and Topsham Police Department on facebook ( and twitter (@realTopshamPD). We also follow @MaineDOT1 on twitter and get our weather news from a variety of sources including

What are your go-to resources when the weather gets bad?

Stay safe!

Music In March

Music in March concert series at Topsham Public Library is fast approaching!

Our ever-popular Music in March concert series returns to Topsham Public Library this spring. The first four Saturdays in March at 1pm there will be a concert that is free and open to all ages.

On March 3, we welcome Martin Gibson who will perform selections from the several hundred original compositions he has penned for solo guitar and piano, covering nearly every style of music. His website is

Rough Sawn is a band of farmers and carpenters based in Topsham. They play a variety of acoustic styles, starting with vintage country music and branching into folk, bluegrass, and Western swing. Rough Sawn will perform on March 10. Find out more from their Facebook page at

March 17, brings us the High Winds Flute Choir conducted by Nan White. They will feature Irish melodies in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

Our final concert on March 24 features Simons and Goodwin who will perform covers for all forms of Americana music including soft rock, country, pop standards and more. They are known for their tight harmonies and their humor. To find out more about them visit their website at

These live concerts are sponsored by the Friends of the Topsham Public Library. Refreshments will be served.