Rachel Davis at the Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth on Wednesday. Davis has been appointed the library’s new director, pending Town Council approval. Liz Gotthelf / For The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH — A longtime staff member has been tapped as the new director of Thomas Memorial Library.

Rachel Davis has served as the interim director since the end of January, when former Director Kyle Neugebauer left to pursue a business venture.

Town Manager Matthew Sturgis announced his recommendation to appoint Davis earlier this month, and the council will take the final vote on her appointment Monday, March 9. Sturgis said the town received 13 resumes and four candidates were interviewed.

Davis’ annual salary will be $72,000 if the council approves the appointment, a $15,000 increase from the salary she earned as assistant library director and youth services librarian, said Sturgis.

“We are very excited to have Rachel Davis as the new library director, being here for 27 years and advancing to this position was a natural progression for a highly regarded member of town staff, and I am confident that Rachel will do exceptionally well,” Sturgis said.

Davis began as the children’s librarian and later changed to the combined role of assistant director and youth services librarian.

“I have parents coming to storytime that I knew as children,” she said.

After all this time, she hasn’t lost her enthusiastic spark.

“I love my job. I have the best job in the world,” she said. “Libraries are the last democratic institutions. Anyone is welcome.”

In her role as youth services librarian, Davis implemented creative programming and became certified to lead Storytime Yoga, a session that incorporates yoga poses with storytelling, followed by a sensory activity.

“I’ve always enjoyed trying new things and I’m excited to do that in a broader sense as director,” she said.

Thomas Memorial Library, which was founded 101 years ago, offers a range of programs, including book discussions, author talks and storytimes, and hosts groups such as the Democracy Café discussion group, the Writer’s Accountability Group, a song writer’s group and a wildlife series.

According to Davis, the library has about 4,500 cardholders.

“People have a hunger to get away from electronic media and talk to human beings and learn from human beings,” Davis said.

Davis said she looks forward to working with the “extremely talented and dedicated” staff to help the library continue to reach its full potential as an important part of the community.

When asked if she has any specific ideas going forward, Davis said she wants to give her staff time to develop their own ideas for any changes and bring them to fruition.
“We have talked about making more use of our outdoor spaces, not just for concerts, but as gathering places for board games, conversation, or other activities that bring people together,’ she said. “That is one avenue we hope to pursue as a staff.”

Outside her time in the library, Davis enjoys writing, drawing with pastels and crocheting.

“I like to be creative, both here and at work. It’s what keeps me going,” she said.

Megan Smith was a 10-year-old volunteer at the Thomas Memorial Library shortly after Davis started working at the library. She remembers Davis as an extremely kind person who was always able to find tasks suitable for 10-year-old and talked with her about books.

In what she calls a “full circle story,” Smith, after substituting at the library for the past few years, has been named the new assistant director and youth services librarian, Davis’ old position.

“It’s wonderful. I’m just thrilled to be back,” she said. “It’s going to be fun.”

She said she’s also excited to see Davis in the new role as director and to work under her leadership.

“She really is the heart of the library,” she said.

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