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Making Shhhh … and Community Activities

by Marty Helman

Anyone who thought the Memorial Library was just about books was in for a big surprise last week, when the library’s Executive Director Joanna Breen gave us an overview of activities and involvements at the library.  Yes, it all starts with books, but that’s just the beginning:  our library includes everything from after school “Lego” and “Girls Who Code” clubs to sponsoring the Halloween Parade and thinking up family-friendly Earth Day celebrations each year. Our library is a lively, multigenerational center that is not only the highlight of our downtown, it is a hub of activity all year long. 
And oh, yes, the books:  There’s what’s in the stacks, there’s what’s available online and through various exchange services, and then there’s access to reading through multiple book clubs, summer reading groups for both kids and adults, author talks, Storytime, and so much more.
This is a centennial year for the Memorial Library: Boothbay Harbor’s public library was founded as a reading room on Townsend Avenue and 100 years ago moved to its current space at 4 Oak Street.  The building was named as a memorial to World War I veterans, and over the years that name – and the memorial on the front lawn – have been updated to include men and women who served in subsequent wars.  
Joanna praised the many volunteers who give their time and talent to the library and the used book store (which accounts for $30,000 toward the library’s budget) each year.  These volunteers include our own Greg Thornton (himself a retired librarian); and Sue Kreahling, who was with us at the meeting.  And with us in spirit, I am sure, was Skip Kreahling, who over the years served the library as treasurer and in almost every other conceivable capacity, and for whom the storage shed on library grounds is named. That is just one of the many times our Rotary club and the library have intersected with activities, programs, and to purchase books for the stacks.
Jonathan Tindal said that his family’s favorite Library event was Earth Day.  Later he shared how daughter Olivia won the coveted “Librarian of the Day” award, during which she learned to check books in and out, search for books online and in the stacks, work with volunteers and eat lunch with the “real” librarians.  He explained that Olivia proudly keeps her name tag and lanyard at home next to her favorite reading chair. 
Conxa Packard’s kids also love the library’s programs, but you don’t have to be underage to appreciate the asset:  Numerous Rotarians spoke highly of the library’s services and offerings as well.
Our library is a 501(c)3 non-profit, with 40 percent of its funding derived through fundraising.  The towns of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor provide 35 percent of the budget, and the remaining 25 percent comes from earnings off the endowment and grants.  
Joanna brought two tees to the Clubhouse to be raffled off.  The tees read: “Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library:  Making Shhh since 1924.”  I suspect more tees are available at the library for those who are jealous of raffle winners Jonathan Tindal and Robin Reed.
Billy Dodge will be attending the lunch at Bradys on Monday Jan 29, and Judy asked that members be there to meet and greet with him.  Do it!
Mike Thompson spoke highly of a Rotary District event that Cathy Fisher, Vicki Haugen, Shawn Lewin and Marty Helman also attended.  A new District-wide outreach in mental health was announced, and the program was so good that we hope to bring the keynote speaker to our club.  Stay tuned.
This Thursday we are welcoming our resident Artist, Rick Dickinson. Rick has had a variety of careers, owned restaurants, was a contractor, but always pursued his passion in the arts.  His work is so dynamic and rich.  We have all really enjoyed having it in the Clubhouse.  Come meet Rick Dickinson and hear about his path to becoming the accomplished artist he is.
Meanwhile, think new years – Chinese New Year’s, that is. Our club will celebrate the Year of the Dragon on Thursday, February 15 in style.  Even if I don’t have a clue what to wear to a Chinese New Year’s party.
Interested in what we do to have fun and give back to the community?  Ask any Rotarian or just show up at our meetings, held weekly on Thursday evenings, with the festivities starting at 6:00 pm.  You’ll be glad you did!