Originally published in The Weekly Packet, November 9, 2023
Friend Memorial Public Library expanding access to books, information and services
Friend Memorial Public Library Director Catherine Nevin sits in front of the November artist showcase featuring the work of local potters. She was appointed to director in September and is excited about bringing patrons better access to technology.
Expansion is on the horizon for Friend Memorial Public Library in Brooklin, according to Library Director Catherine Nevin.
Nevin, who was appointed as director in September, said access to books and media is expanding significantly for library patrons. On November 7, Friend Memorial joined a shared-library network called Minerva. Over 60 Maine libraries are connected through the network, and patrons can access more than 6 million books and multimedia materials that are housed at any of the libraries.
The library started the process of joining Minerva in 2021, with Nevin leading the re-barcoding of all materials. “I think it’s going to be an amazing asset,” she said, noting that the library will be able to track down books—especially rare titles or those published decades ago—much easier. If a book is not in the Minerva network in Maine, patrons can ask Bangor Public Library to conduct an out-of-state search.
Nevin added that Friend Memorial also provides a variety of databases for its patrons, like Maine Newsstand, Gale (for archival magazines and newspapers), Ancestry.com and Libby and Overdrive (for audiobooks). She encourages anyone who can’t find a desired material in their stacks to simply ask.
For instance, Nevin helped someone looking for a recipe they read over five years ago in Food & Wine magazine. Nevin went sleuthing through the Gale database—and found it. “This is what we love. This is why we do this,” she said. “It’s fun to use the resources that we all have and really delve into something.”
Also underway is a two-year capital campaign to raise $2.5 million. The funds will be used to build an addition, expand programs and services and increase the library’s endowment, which will aid current upkeep and operational costs for the existing building, as well as improve ventilation and climate control.
According to the Friend Memorial Public Library’s website, the new annex will provide more space and technology to support remote working and education, as well as scale up youth programming and improve handicap access to the library. The plans also include a dedicated area for materials on maritime history and boatbuilding.
The hope is to have the $2.5 million raised by the end of 2024, and to have the new building completed in 2026.
Additionally, Storytime Leader Jennifer Rosenthal says she is excited to help bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Brooklin. The program—with the support of the state and a local non-profit—sends a free book every month to kids age 5 and under who are signed up for the program. In 2022, the state of Maine announced that the Imagination Library will gradually replace the current state-funded literacy program called Raising Readers.
“We love kids coming to the library. But nothing beats having the books that are yours, that you have, that you can read over and over again,” Rosenthal said.
She hopes that the program can begin in Brooklin within the next six months. Rosenthal said it all depends on when funding comes through from the state to pay for half of the shipping costs. Then, Friend Memorial will pay for the other half.
Throughout all of these changes, Friend Memorial Public Library is still holding true to its regular programming, like Friday morning children’s storytime, ongoing book clubs and a monthly rotating local artist showcase (in November, local potters are showing and selling their creations). The library also houses space for local community groups, including the Brooklin Camera Club, fiber artists and the Brooklin Climate Response Committee’s community talks and presentations. The library’s website, friendml.org, is the best place to find up-to-date information on its calendar of events.