Pam Jenkins, left, and Sarah Brown, two staffers at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, show off the new “Collaboratory,” which features activities, costumes and information on Edgar Allen Poe and other macabre subjects. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BRUNSWICK — Poetry, conchology, cryptography and photography – keen interests of Edgar Allen Poe – come together this month within the “Collaboratory” room at Curtis Memorial Library.

A former computer lab, the room was repurposed a few years ago to showcase revolving displays that reflect the interests of the library’s staff, who work together to deck the walls with props, pictures and an array of educational tools. This month’s theme surrounds the “Tell-Tale Heart” and “Raven” author and other elements of the macabre – just in time for Halloween.

Framed 19th-century photographs of subjects that include Poe and the creepy twins a la “The Shining” adorn the room, along with a case filled with skulls and potions such as “Boomslang Skin” and “Beetle Eyes” from the Harry Potter oeuvre. Skeletons with butterfly wings hang from the ceiling in birdcages, a stuffed raven is on display, and a variety of black costumes, skulls and Poe masks are available for donning. And, of course, there’s a collection of Poe’s books.

Heather Rogers visited the display Oct. 2 with her children, Addison, at left, and Gil. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

There’s also information on conchology – the study of mollusk shells – and cryptography, through which messages are enciphered and deciphered in secret code – both topics about which Poe wrote. Visitors can also try their hand at cursive with a fountain pen.

The famed poet and writer would likely feel right at home.

“We take turns as librarians setting it up and creating something; it’s really an interactive museum playspace,” Assistant Director and Manager of Youth Services Pam Jenkins said Oct. 2 during a tour of the Collaboratory. “Usually there’s something in here for both adults and children.”

Heather Rogers of Brunswick attested to that when she brought her children, Addison and Gil, to view the display.

“We always come to the Collaboratory when we visit (the library),” she said, adding its varied elements are the draw. “The kids enjoy all the different activities, but I always do as well, because it’s engaging for all age levels. It’s always fun to see what kind of crafts they have, or just dress-up.”

“It’s a nice mix of education and entertainment, I think,” said Manager of Adult Services Sarah Brown, the librarian who organized this month’s theme.

Poe had “such a tremendous impact on literature,” she said, pointing out that the mystery and science fiction genres tie back to him, not just the horror works commonly attributed to him. “His influence has permeated today’s literary scene.”

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