I was returning from another walk on the beach, when I came across Libby Library’s mascot, Libby Lobster, along with his shelfmates Chandler Crab and Popham Puffin in the midst of a wonderful, slap-up holiday celebration. I approached them out of curiosity, and asked if I could join in.

“Sure!” Libby exclaimed.

“Have some kelpnogg!” Chandler added.

“I think I’ll pass. Anyway, it looks like you guys really know how to celebrate the season.”

“You think this is a big bash! Wait until New Year’s Eve! Chandler, Popham and I will be celebrating atop the highest mountain in Memorial Park.”

“Ummmm, There might be one slight drawback to your plan, Libby.” I said, with just a slight eye roll.

“What’s that?” Libby queried.

“Have you perhaps noticed that there are NO mountains here in Memorial Park. Maybe if we wait a few million years, but I don’t have that much vacation time accumulated.”

“Oh, ye of little faith! Behold my latest invention, Libby’s Cup o’ Mountain.” He said this with a grand flourish as he revealed a cup and plastic baggy, which held a gooey substance.

Libby then filled the cup with water, then added his latest concoction and stirred. Next, he poured the contents of the cup into the Park’s soil. Soon, the ground trembled violently and a mound of earth began to rise until it reached the majestic height of 18 inches.

I stared at it briefly, then turned to Libby and said, with no small amount of sarcasm, “That’s a sight that would’ve had Hillary and Tenzing’s knees trembling!”

Libby glared at me, then turned to Chandler and Popham and said “We begin our ascent on December 30th and will set up base camp halfway up the north face. We’ll then rest overnight before climbing to the summit and celebrating in the rarified air on New Year’s Eve. It will be a night for the books.”

“Rarified air! I’ve seen George R.R. Martin novels bigger than that mountain. Besides, the Town just passed an ordinance prohibiting mountains above tibia height in Memorial Park. Anyway Libby, while we’re both mentioning books and novels, we should talk about the One Beach One Book project coming up in the New Year!”

“You got it! I’m excited beyond words about this community reading project being put together by Libby Memorial Library, Brownrigg Library at Old Orchard Beach High School, the Community Friendly Connection, the Friends & Trustees of Libby Library, along with additional community groups and local businesses, to commemorate Maine’s Bi-centennial in 2020. This project is designed to facilitate community collaboration, promote literacy, develop community relationships, as well as an interest in State and local history.”

“The book chosen for the community read is “Wildfire Loose: The Week Maine Burned,” written by Kennebunk-based author Joyce Butler. This is a fantastic book that highlights the devastation wrought by Maine’s 1947 wildfire as well as the determination of Maine’s firefighters, property owners and inhabitants. This catastrophe burned out nine Maine communities and involved almost one million acres; a substantial portion of the lower half of the State, making it both local and extensive.

“Libby, it sounds like a fascinating project! Could you tell us more about it?”

“Indeed I can. The One Beach One Book program will run for five weeks kicking-off with an Old Orchard Beach Fire Department program at Libby Library on March 3 and include additional programs such as book club-style discussions and film footage, culminating with a wrap-up event at the high school the first week of April. Books will be located at various sites throughout town and will be free of charge, with the only requirement being that a participant either passes it on to a neighbor, co-worker, family member or returns it to the site where it was picked up, when they’re finished reading.”

Libby Memorial Library received a substantial grant from the Maine Public Library Fund, administered by the Maine State Library, in order to make this project possible. The One Beach One Book committee is immensely grateful to the Maine State Library as well as the Friends and Trustees of Libby Library, who also donated generously to what we hope will be an enjoyable and engaging experience for all who participate.

Stay tuned for more information as we move towards the kick-off date.

“Thanks for informing our gentle readers about this exceptional project. We should also let everyone know that they can find out more about this, as well as our many ongoing programs, services and materials by visiting our website, ooblibrary.org. We also post updates on our Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter @ooblibrary. You can also find storm closure info on channels 6, 8, 13, our website and Facebook page.

Bob Cochran is a volunteer at Libby Memorial Library, and jazz director at WMPG in Portland.

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