What is your history with the Ellsworth Public Library?
I have loved the library since my husband and I bought our first house in Ellsworth in 1990! As a voracious reader, I have loved libraries all my life, and the EPL was truly the first part of Ellsworth that we fell in love with. As our boys came along (1993 and 1996), that relationship only deepened, with story times and piles and piles of books every week. Thanks to a “support what you love” moment in the early 2000s, I ran for Library trustee, which led to a position on the Board of Trustees for 9 years. Nearly 30 years after I first stepped into the (newly remodeled) library, it’s a rare day when we don’t have a stack of library books on our coffee table, and a rare month when I don’t pop into the Library at least twice.
February is Library Lovers Month! What do you love most about EPL? About libraries in general?
I love the welcome the library staff provides, the beauty of the building itself–the changing quilt that hangs over the central atrium, the comfortable chairs, the beautiful view from the windows–but most of all, the incredible resources it offers. The number of different voices, ideas, skills, memories, and possibilities accessible (for free) from the (any) library is staggering. I grew up in the tiny town of Poland, Maine, and our (also tiny) Alvin Bolster Ricker Memorial Library and Community House was my window to the outside world. A huge amount of my understanding of history, other people, and other places came from the thousands of books that library provided me. It’s all waiting for us there–and if anyone needs help accessing any of the riches, there are librarians there to help!
What is one fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about the library?
I think people might be surprised by how spooky the old cellar is (or was a few years ago when I took a tour with the Trustees). We could do a haunted house down there for Halloween! Also, I think people would be amazed to know what they can sign out: books, movies, magazines, CDs, audiobooks, museum and park passes. . . the list goes on. I also think (sorry; I know I’m over my limit) that people should be aware of how hard the library staff works for pay that I wish was more lavish.
Where is your favorite place in the library?
I have two: I love the chairs that face the huge window that looks over the river. When my boys were still in school, Thursday was “Snack Day”: I’d pick them up at school, we’d walk down to State Street Variety for a snack, and then end up at the Library, where the boys would pick their books and I’d grab the new edition of People Magazine and sit in those chairs for a dose of celebrity gossip. I’ve pretty much gotten out of that habit, but I still love walking into the stacks, another favorite place–no matter which area I’m in, I can always find something that catches my interest, something I’ve read and loved, or want to read, or have never heard of but that looks fascinating!
Have you read any good books lately?
Oh, always! I have started keeping track of my books on Goodreads so I can actually remember what I’ve read! I set myself a 100 book goal for 2018, and I’m happy to say I made it–I’ve been resisting social media a bit and trying to read more. I’ve also hugely enjoyed the increasing variety of voices and stories we have out there now. When I was a kid, authors seemed mostly male and mostly Western–not so now! Two recent(ish) favorites have beenThe Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (a young adult prose poetry novel, powerful, heart-breaking, and unforgettable), and Becoming by Michelle Obama, which highlights the incredible power of education and opportunity in allowing all of us to fulfill our potential. As a teacher, a mom, a woman, and a community member, that idea is fundamental to me! But I also love JK Rowling’s/ “Robert Galbraith’s” murder mystery series. . . . and . . . .
Becky Leamon is an Ellsworth resident and avid library user.