Over the last year and a half since my book, Finding Your Inner Moose came out, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting nineteen libraries in this great state of ours. Well, twenty, if you include the Stockton Springs Community Library next week. I love visiting libraries: chatting and laughing with folks and sharing my book. Library readings are the best!
First off, librarians are wicked organized (it’s their nature), so things are usually all set up when I get there, just so, with a table to sell my books, and in most cases, homemade treats. Gotta love that, especially after driving a couple of hours. The folks who come to a library reading, love books, obviously. But more importantly, they believe in our libraries as a valuable resource and community gathering place. Many of them volunteer, or donate their old books to the library used book sale. Some’ll buy my book to give to their library and some’ll even leave a bequest to their library when they die. That says something, doesn’t it?
A lot of Maine’s libraries are in historic buildings or old houses. They may be a little crammed (or intimate, as I call it), but the rooms are cozy, and filled with that great old book smell. You know what I mean. Then there are those swanky new libraries, with special rooms for community meetings and presentations like mine. Or the hybrid: the old library with the new addition, like ours in Mahoosuc Mills. They added on in the 1980’s, but we still refer to it as “new” room.
I come across this picture of my sister Irene and me (on right) at the Mahoosuc Mills Public Library way back when. I’m guessing Irene’s about four, me six. I was surprised to see those empty shelves. That’s not how I remember it. In my mind, that library was just plumb chuck-a full of stories. Irene and me would look forward to going every week, returning last week’s books and picking out new ones. Remember doing that, zooming through three or four books in a week? And even rereading some of them. I’ve slowed down some since then, I’ll tell you!
I’m pleased to report that the shelves at the Mahoosuc Mills Library are well stocked, now. We have a few computers, too, DVD’s and a half decent selection of audio books. Since I spend a bunch of time on the road, I do a lot of my “reading” in the car. I’ve gone through most of the audio books appeal to me. But then you have your interlibrary loan (a God send for small libraries like ours), and our ever helpful assistant librarian, Joanie Landry. So, sky’s the limit!
But last winter, when our prehistoric furnace at the library gave up the ghost, the community had to pull together. A rotary club talent show, a demolition derby and many bake sales later, we got a new one. That furnace blew the budget, but we’re still open for business, even if it is only three and a half days a week.
That’s why I’m wicked excited about something I’ve just become aware of: the Maine Public Library Fund. Hear me out. Money from this fund helps to expand interlibrary loan support, audio books, library programming and more. And they made it easy, too. When you’re filing your Maine State Income Tax, all you have to do is go to the “Charitable Contributions” page and check Maine Public Library Fund. You don’t have to give an arm and a leg. If 1000 people gave $5, that’s a tidy sum. It all adds up.
Now, I know from personal experience that if you’re down in the dumps, doing something nice for someone will make you feel better. I also know that doing you’re taxes can be stressful, so what better time to give your spirit a lift. I encourage you to take a minute and think back to when you were a kid. Remember what a magical place your library was? Hold that picture in your head, then simply check the Maine Public Library Fund, and you’ll feel better. Guaranteed!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
Upcoming Shows and Book Events:
March 19 Book Reading, Stockton Springs Community Library, 6:30 p.m., Stockton Springs, ME
March 28 & 30 The Best of Ida, The Footlights, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
April 21 A Visit With Ida, Huntington Common, 2:00 p.m., Kennebunk, ME
May 3 New Keynote Speech, Alpha Beta State Conference, 1:30 p.m., Bowie, Maryland
May 19 Book Club Visit, 10:00 a.m., Portsmouth, NH
For details, please check out the schedule page on my website: http://www.idaswebsite.com/schedule