Let’s Talk About It!

The Topsham Public Library has been selected by the Maine Humanities Council to offer “Let’s Talk About It”, a free reading and discussion group with copies of books available through the library. This program is provided by the Maine Humanities Council’s Maine Center for the Book in cooperation with the Maine State Library.

The series, Re-Imagining the American Family, begins 6pm, Thursday, November 1 at the Topsham Public Library in Topsham, and continues for 5 sessions, through March 14.

Books to be read and discussed in this series include: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast, What the Living Do by Marie Howe and Brothers and Keepers by John Edgar Wideman.  A scholar provided by the Maine Humanities Council will facilitate the discussions. Rebecca Nisetich, PhD of USM will facilitate this group.

“Exploring ideas and issues through literature has a unique and fun way of creating community,” said Nicole Rancourt, director of Let’s Talk About It. “We find that there is great interest among adults in getting together to discuss what they’ve read with others. Having a discussion leader who is both excited about the readings and skilled in facilitating can help to deepen this experience.”

Books for the program are available for loan at the library. Please call the library at (207) 725-1727 to register and come in to pick up the first book of the series.

Latest Rare Reads Discussion

Image result for the state we're in ann beattie

Last night the Rare Reads book discussion talked about The State We’re In: Maine Stories by Ann Beattie. Have you read it? What did you think?

Dave Mosley Takes on New Role as Development Coordinator

You may have noticed lately that Dave has not been behind the circulation desk as much as usual.  As well as Volunteer Coordinator, and Suggestion Source Extraordinaire, he is now adding Topsham Public Library Development Coordinator to his list of duties.

As you know, if you have ever engaged with Dave, he strives to do his best to provide quick, pleasant, and accurate service. That’s exactly what he wants to do as Development Coordinator: to continue to do what we do, and strive to do it better. As well as building those bridges with businesses, he wants to maintain and grow the relationship with our patrons and volunteers.

Dave’s biggest concern is that he will lose touch with our patrons. He enjoys working at the circulation desk and getting to know you. He wants those bonds to remain, so do not hesitate to speak to Dave about any concerns or ideas you have or about things you need or to tell him what a great job Topsham Public Library is doing.

Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week! Every year the American Library Association promotes a campaign to raise awareness of the freedom we have to read what we want to read. In the past, Topsham Public Library has highlighted banned books that we like to read or that have been challenged, but this year, I thought it would be nice to share a brief history of how the Banned Books Week Campaign got its start.

The following is from the American Libraries Magazine article written in 2017 titled “50 Years of Intellectual Freedom,” written by Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) staff celebrating the office’s anniversary.

“Banned Books Week was launched in the 1980s, a time of increased challenges, organized protests, and the Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982) Supreme Court case, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content.

Banned books were showcased at the 1982 American Booksellers Association (ABA) BookExpo America trade show in Anaheim, California. At the entrance to the convention center towered large, padlocked metal cages, with some 500 challenged books stacked inside and a large overhead sign cautioning that some people considered these books dangerous.

Drawing on the success of the exhibit, ABA invited OIF Director Judith Krug to join a new initiative called Banned Books Week, along with the National Association of College Stores. The three organizations scrambled to put something together by the September show date and ended up distributing a news release and a publicity kit, hoping that with their combined membership of 50,000 people, they could continue to spark a conversation about banned books.

The initiative took off. Institutions and stores hosted read-outs, and window displays morphed into literary graveyards or mysterious collections of brown-bagged books. Major news outlets such as PBS and the New York Times covered the event, and mayors and governors issued proclamations affirming the week.

ALA is currently part of a national coalition to promote Banned Books Week, along with 14 other contributors and sponsors. Krug led the Banned Books Week efforts as OIF director until her unexpected death in 2009. Her legacy lives on in the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund, a grant awarded to nonprofits to host Banned Books Week events.

Today, Banned Books Week coverage by mainstream media reaches an estimated 2.8 billion readers, and more than 90,000 publishing industry and library subscribers. The Banned Books page remains one of the top two most popular pages on the ALA website.”

Every time you visit Topsham Public Library you are practicing your right to read what you want. Stop on by and pick up your next read!

TV Shows Set in Maine

Castle Rock. Emma gets practically giddy when it is mentioned, and then when you get her together with  Dale and Lynne (outside of work time, of course) the chatter is non-stop. The three of them are either talking all things Castle Rock or one or the other is shushing the others because they are an episode or two behind. If you’re not familiar with Castle Rock, as I wasn’t, it is a new horror show on Hulu based on a fictitious town in Maine that appears in a variety of Stephen King books. A number of other Stephen King’s works have been adapted for television that are set fictitious Maine towns. They include: The Dead Zone, Haven, The Mist, Storm of the Century, and Under the Dome.

This got us thinking about other TV shows that are set in Maine. Do you remember Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury? Set in Cabot Cove, Maine, the plot involved an author, Jessica Fletcher (played by Lansbury), who happens to be around whenever someone is murdered. It aired for twelve seasons on CBS and Lansbury received four Golden Globe Awards for her role in the series.

More recently, the show Once Upon A Time which aired on ABC from 2011-2018, is set in Storybrooke, Maine. The premise of this show is that fairy tale and folk tale characters are confined to present-day Storybrooke due to a curse cast on them by the Evil Queen Regina. They are exiled and their memories lost until a young boy, with the help of his mother (who may or may not be the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming), set things in motion to free them all.

There’s also Olive Kitteridge which is a four-hour mini-series based on the book by the same name by Elizabeth Strout. Set in Crosby, Maine, this follows the life of Olive, a retired schoolteacher who is married to the man who runs the local pharmacy. They have one child, a troubled son Christopher, who is a podiatrist.

And we can’t forget Dark Shadows that aired on weekdays from 1966-1971. It was a gothic soap opera that was set in Collinsport, Maine and followed the lives of the wealthy Collins family.

I haven’t seen all these shows, but it’s interesting to look at how Maine is portrayed. Is the portrayal of Maine accurate? Has the way “Hollywood” portrays Maine evolved? It’s interesting to see how Maine is projected on audiences that might not know anything about us.


High School Reading Assignments

At Topsham Public Library, when we start getting requests for Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy, we know school is soon beginning. Students who enroll in AP English classes have summer reading assignments, and, as in true student form, they tend to wait until the last minute to get it done. (Who can blame them?!)

Other trends in summer reading assignments seem to be 1984 and Animal Farm both by George Orwell, Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, and, of course, Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Those are all signs that students are back at it.

Watching these students cramming in those summer assignments causes me to reminisce over my high school reading assignments. I think my favorite book that I read in all my years of high school is another of Vonnegut’s work – Player Piano. It was assigned by Mrs. Maguire my senior year. That book has stayed with me all this time and I think about it often. In the book, Paul Proteus must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run by machines.

I also remember studying Samuel Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Mrs. Baker’s class. Actually, I don’t remember the text as much as I remember her playing Iron Maiden’s version in class.

I asked my fellow staff members what their favorite assigned high school reading was. (Some had to really think hard because high school was a lloooonnngggggg time ago for some of us.)

Dale’s favorite was assigned by Mr. Palmer, and it was The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien which is about the Vietnam War. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is Dave’s favorite book that he was assigned to read in high school.  This book is about a memory of a Christmas shared between a seven-year-old boy and sixty year old woman. Linda read Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. This story tells of journeys by a ship’s surgeon Lemuel Gulliver, who encounters strange lands and strange beings.

Emma did not connect with much of the assigned reading until about age 16 when, through assigned reading, she discovered the poetry of Samuel Coleridge (and in particular, Kubla Khan), Shakespeare’s plays (especially Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream) and the novel Emma by Jane Austen which is a humorous look at match-making in nineteenth century England.

Mr. Kingdon assigned The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier in his English class. That’s how Cyndi came to read it. She remembers that book clearly because it was the first book she read where the bad guy wins at the end.  She loved it for the unexpected rush of surprise as she read the last few pages.  She went on to read I Am the Cheese, also by Cormier, immediately after she finished The Chocolate War.

In Sixth grade Julie’s teacher, Billie Howe, let the class pick what they wanted to read. Some of them picked The Lord of the Rings series (which her brother had just read).  She thought the series was awesome. That was also the first time Julie read To Kill a Mockingbird. Sophomore year, Mrs. Young and/or Mrs. Anderson, had us read The Scarlet Letter. She loved it!  Junior year, Ms. O’Neil assigned a lot of interesting books but her favorite was The Great Gatsby. (It was the best paper she ever wrote.)

What did you read in high school? Did you love it or hate it? Does a particular assigned book hover in the back of your mind? Sometimes it’s hard to enjoy a book you have to read, but there are times when those books stick with you for the rest of your life.

And the Music Just Keeps on Playing

Summer is not complete without rockin’ along with a band under the summer sky! Join Off Their Rockers for an outdoor rock concert on Saturday, August 4 at 1pm at Topsham Public Library. Off Their Rockers play an eclectic mix of music from Buddy Holly to Carole King to Old Crow Medicine Show to the Traveling Wilburys and beyond!

In 2016, a talent show at Highland Green was held, and a group of nine residents formed a band Off Their Rockers. It was soon decided to keep the band going, and since that initial talent show they have performed for the People Plus Scoop-a-thon, the Mere Point Yacht Club, Down East Magazine’s Food Truck Friday and Cundy’s Harbor Ice Cream Social. For more information check their Facebook page at

Things are Rockin’ at Topsham Public Library

If you haven’t heard: Libraries Rock! Not only is that true, it is also the theme of the summer reading program, and things are rockin’ at Topsham Public Library.

Join musician, Marc Black, on Wednesday, August 1 at 6pm for a special multimedia experience about the history of the baby-boomer generation. Black performs a wide range of popular songs including favorites like “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, and “Blowin’ in the Wind” while you reflect on the history and sing along.

In high school, Black’s band, the Blades of Grass, reached the top forty and performed alongside the biggest acts of the day including the Doors, Van Morrison and Neil Diamond. He has since recorded more than a dozen CDs including one ‘pick hit’ in Billboard Magazine and another that was recognized as a ‘minor masterpiece’ by famed music producer John Hammond Sr. In June, 2014, Black was inducted into the New York Chapter of the Blues Hall of Fame.

Mark your calendars, and get your groove on!

1500+ Hours Donated by Topsham Public Library’s Volunteers

Recently, Dave, Topsham Public Library Volunteer Coordinator, and his crew of shelving volunteers reached a milestone. This fiscal year, our wonderful volunteers performed over 1500 hours of volunteer time!  That is up 300 hours from last year.

Our shelving volunteers complete a number of duties including shelf reading, book shelving, packing and unpacking ILL deliveries, and shelf shifting. These 1500+ hours do not include the hours spent in the gardens by our garden volunteers, nor does it include the time spent by volunteers who deliver books for our Books on Wheels program.

Each volunteer averages 28 hours a year donating their time. There are 10 volunteers who gave us 50+ hours this year, some even more than 80 hours, and we want to give them a shout out! Tristan Caswell-Riday, David Hammond, Jeffrey Hanscom, Cherylene Labbe, Susan Lowe, Claire McCrea, Karen Richard, Ann Sanfasin, Claire Saulnier, and Owen Yabsira have contributed to the success of Topsham Public Library.

Needless to say, it is impossible to do what we do without our volunteers. No matter how much time our volunteers give, we appreciate them all. Thank you!

Bowdoin International Music Festival Musicians visit Topsham Public Library

Bowdoin International Music Festival performers at the 2017 Community Concert held at Topsham Public Library.

Topsham Public Library will host students of the Bowdoin International Music Festival in a free concert on Saturday, July 7th at 2pm. The Bowdoin Festival’s Community Concert Series presents gifted classical musicians from around the world performing solo and chamber music in non-traditional venues. The performers are conservatory and graduate students who attend the festival’s summer program to hone their performing skills in preparation for a life in music.

The Bowdoin International Music Festival was founded in 1964 by Lewis Kaplan and the late Robert K. Beckwith of Bowdoin College. The mission of the festival is to prepare gifted young musicians from around the world for a life in music through study with world-class artists, and to present classical music in concerts performed to the highest artistic standards. Over its 54-year history, the Bowdoin International Music Festival has established itself as a vital force throughout the music world.

This Community Concert Series is a favorite at Topsham Public Library, and we hope to see you there! As always, the event is free and open to the public.