Carol McFadden is retiring July 12 after a dozen years as head of children’s services at Patten Free Library in Bath. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BATH — Carol McFadden glanced at the Kermit the Frog puppet on her desk June 26 as she finished packing up 12 years of memories at Patten Free Library.

“He’s been in many story times; I like to get into the characters,” the children’s librarian said of the toy, which had belonged to her now-grown son. “This is kind of what’s left; my only puppet left.”

The other puppets filled bins that lined McFadden’s office as she approached her July 12 retirement from the 33 Summer St. library. An open house in her honor will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, the day before her 66th birthday.

“The only thing I’m keeping here … are bells, and books, and some bubbles,” she added.

Over the past dozen years, McFadden offered nearly 3,250 children’s programs attended by nearly 58,000 people. Through a first-grade visit program, almost 1,600 students participated with their teachers and received more than 1,300 library cards. More than 500 students on average have attended her summer reading programs.

“As a children’s librarian, I plan way out; I plan two, four, eight months out with programs,” McFadden said.

A self-described “list person,” she made a “massive list of things that I want to do,” she said.

After almost 40 years as a youth librarian, including time in Milton and Walpole, Massachusetts, McFadden will join her husband – a former Boothbay library director – in retirement. They plan to cultivate a permaculture agricultural-forestry farm on the 22-acre Edgecomb property they bought three years ago.

McFadden also is starting up Once Upon a Time Storytimes, a business that offers songs, stories and fingerplays for babies and preschoolers at schools, libraries, homes, camps and parties.

The best aspect of her time at Patten, she said, has been “hands down, having that freedom to be creative; it’s been a perfect mix for me and my whole life, because everything has culminated.” She said she brought her experiences with foreign and sign languages, drama, and fencing into the Children’s Room.

“It’s been so perfect for me; I’m really blessed in that way,” McFadden said.

Lesley Dolinger, the library director, said a search is being conducted for McFadden’s replacement. She praised McFadden for the “innovative programs and story hours” she’s offered, and her “dedication to children and their families.”

Dolinger also noted the importance of libraries remaining relevant – “Carol has achieved that,” she said. “She’s so compassionate in dealing with patrons that might have difficult problems, or late fines” – and lauded the creativity McFadden brought to her job.

“It’s a very hands-on room, from the time the baby can crawl on the floor,” Dolinger said. “Almost every day there’s a kid crying because they don’t want to leave. (McFadden) just exemplifies everything that’s so great in a children’s librarian, and that’s (something) we’re so going to miss.”


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