David Treadwell

David Treadwell

My wife Tina tells of a time when she and her first husband were on a stopover in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands many years ago. A woman — a passenger from one of the cruise ships — was panting and wheezing as she rushed from store to store, besotted by all the bargains. “Zelda, Zelda, get a hold of yourself !” urged her not-so-patient husband, trying to calm her down.

That story came to mind after I met with members of the staff at the Curtis Memorial Library. Granted, Brunswick is a long way from St. Thomas and the Curtis Memorial Library’s extraordinary bargains do not include jewelry, clothes and booze. But I thought to myself, “Wow! It’s truly amazing that a town the size of Brunswick can have such a rich resource available to all members of the community.”

“This is not your grandmother’s library,” explained Liz Doucett, Library Director. Indeed, it’s not. I decided to do this story after taking a look at the web site and seeing the wide array of events slated for January. A review of the events scheduled for other months confirm that there’s something for people of all ages throughout the year. Meet with a Tech Wizard. Join a writers group or a book club. Trace your family tree with the help of a genealogist. Practice your artistic craft (all skill levels welcome) or make your own kind of music. Meet a published author. Listen to a story. Tell a story. Hear a speaker. Get your financial questions answered or benefit from career advice. And on and on.

“The people in this town want and demand a good library,” says Liz. “They value it and they use it. In 2015, we launched a ‘100 Ideas in 10 Days’ campaign and received over 1500 thoughtful responses.”

The Collaboratory, located in the enclosed area in the middle of the first floor, is one new good idea. “Much Ado About Shakespeare,” the current offering in this multimedia, hands-on exhibit, is a traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine. Young people and adults can play a trivia game, explore the language of the time through word play, perform a play or see a movie.

“Sometimes we come up with the idea for a new program and sometimes the idea comes from the community,” says Sarah Brown, Director of Adult Services.

The Friends of the Library came up with the idea for a used bookstore. Located on Pleasant Street, this volunteer-run store contributes about $50,000 to the Library every year.

The day-long “How-To Festival” now draws over 700 community members interested in learning everything from how to use a telescope to how to use a sauté pan like a master chef.

“We work in a collaborative way,” explains Pam Jenkins, Director of Youth Services. She notes that Story Time, which used to be for half-day kindergartners, now has programs for babies and toddlers.

All told, Curtis Memorial Library sponsors over 1,000 programs at the library every year as well as nearly 500 programs in the community. (Go to www.curtislibrary.com for a listing of events, programs and services.)

What about books? Does the Library still do books? Absolutely! Your grandmother would be proud. In the last fiscal year, there were 284,389 patron visits and 367,572 items were borrowed from the Library.

“This is our dream job,” admits Liz Doucett, adding that the Library could not do what it does without the over 280 individuals who log in over 7,000 volunteer hours every year.

So, dear Zelda and others of your ilk, you can have your St. Thomas. I’ll take Curtis Memorial Library any time.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary or suggestions for future ‘“Just a Little Old” columns at [email protected]

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