January 2

Maine libraries write new chapter on lending

Cake pans, fishing poles, dolls and ukuleles are among the items circulating in Maine as libraries expand their mission.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

The library is currently loaning out Addy (Civil War-era), Caroline (War of 1812) and Samantha (Victorian era). It also has Ruthie, from the 1930s, but she’s currently out of circulation. She went to a home where there was smoking and now the library staff can’t get the smell off of her.

Patrons of the Lewiston Public Library can borrow American Girl dolls and their accessories.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

There’s a natural library tie in to the dolls, since American Girl books cover a wide range of American history from Colonial times to present day. And increasingly, fewer families can afford $100 or more for a doll.

“It really fits into what a library is all about. The doll is not just about playing, it’s about learning history and writing in the journal,” said Carol McFadden, head of children’s services at Patten Free Library. “For us to be able to loan the doll out helps put all the girls who are interested on an even playing field.”

Backpacks loaned out at the York Library include this nature exploration kit with a butterfly net, butterfly puppet, magnifying lenses, books about butterflies, a log book, a CD about butterflies, plant identification cards and a book with butterfly information.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

At York Public Library, patron Sandy Lovell came up with the idea of nature backpacks, mainly as something that grandparents could do with visiting grandchildren. Lovell said she’d rather not talk about her role with the backpacks, but Robert Waldman, director of York Public Library, said Lovell donated 10 of them, each filled with about $100 to $200 worth of items.

The backpacks are designed for exploring specific local natural areas, like marshes or beaches. They come filled with maps of the area, of trails, as well as books, DVDs, scavenger hunt lists and equipment ranging from a magnifying glass to a mini aquarium.

“What you’re supposed to do as a library is give people the means to go out and explore their world, and these backpacks do that,” said Waldman. “Libraries will always be relevant if they provide what the community can learn from, what is of interest to the community.” 

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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