Santa’s Village – a new exhibit at LICL

Santa's Village closeupWe are pleased to announce a new exhibit in the Long Island Community Library’s small glass case about Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire, a Christmas themed village. Even though we are enjoying a lovely and warm autumn, we all know that winter is around the corner, including a visit from Santa on December 24th. This exhibit will put you in the mood. It includes memorabilia (plates, ashtrays, spoons, salt and pepper shakers, etc.) and family photographs, which will enchant and delight.

The exhibit is curated by Sue Hemond, whose family owns the items in the exhibit. Sue’s grandparents owned a dairy farm in Jefferson, NH. When they sold a piece of their land in the 1950s to the friends who started Santa’s Village, the deal included a lifetime pass to the park for all the family. Thus began many summers of visits to Santa with cousins in tow, and a permanent love of anything to do with Christmas.

Santa's Village







The exhibit is open during library hours


Bicycling in foreign films

What do many foreign films have in common? Main characters bicycling along scenic country roads!  In the Italian movie, “The Postman” (Il Postino), the postman delivers, on his bicycle, letters to Pablo Neruda. In “The Lunchbox,” the “dabbawala” delivers home cooked lunches to the city workers in Mumbai, India. In “Greenfingers,” the main character delivers flowers on his bicycle in a small English village.Bicycle in Catalina Island 3

Many foreign films take place in countries where the bicycle is used primarily as transportation, including Corsica, where in “Queen to Play,” Helene, a chambermaid, rides her bicycle to work along winding roads with the ocean as a backdrop. In “As it is in Heaven,” one of my favorite movies, Lena teaches Daniel to ride a bicycle, along Swedish country roads.

It’s no wonder that when I bicycle around the island after watching one of these wonderful movies, I feel like I’m still in a movie, a wonderful transition from movie world to home life.bicycle on Long Island








The Long Island Community Library has a nice selection of foreign films in the collection, including some of the ones mentioned above.

The Soundtrack of our Lives: An Exhibit of Vinyl at the Long Island Community Library

Remember the vinyl records of many years ago? A few of us still have them kicking around, unable to let go of them, for nostalgia’s sake. Amazingly, vinyl is making a comeback. A younger generation is discovering them, which goes to show one should never give up on old technologies.

The Long Island Community Library has a small exhibit in the glass case between the library and small meeting room which showcases a sampling of vinyl records owned and loved by Long Islanders, as well as examples of other types of technology that came about afterwards, some of which we’ll probably never see a resurgence of. There is a notebook that we would love to have you tell your stories of favorite records. Record player

This exhibit is open during library hours.



Robert Louis Stevenson at Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake

When we were at Saranac Lake last fall on our Adirondack holiday I was surprised to learn that Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish writer known for his adventure stories such as Treasure Island, had spent some time there, from 1887-1888, for his health. While we were in the Adirondacks I picked up “The Adirondack Reader,” which has selections of letters from Robert Louis Stevenson, his mother Margaret Balfour Stevenson, and a memoir by his stepson Lloyd Osbourne. Coincidentally, as I was reading these writings, I was reading the historical novel about the love story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny. Reading this wonderful novel, “Under the wide and starry sky,” by Nancy Horan, brought to life even more the excerpts from “The Adirondack Reader,” regarding this famous author and his family, especially their time in upstate New York.

I love this kind of confluence, of mixing a place with fact and fiction, to make for a richer understanding of a time and place, and the characters which populate them. I only wish we could have visited the Robert Louis Stevenson cottage, but next time!

Of Sea and Cloud

Of interest to Long Island readers:

Jon Keller speaks about “Of Sea and Cloud” at the Brown Bag Lecture Series Wednesday, August 26 – 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Location: Main Library

spring on Long Island black and whiteNicolas Graves raised his sons to be lobstermen. Bill and Joshua (known as Jonah) Graves grew up aboard their father’s boat–the Cinderella–learning the rules and rites of the antiquated business they love. But when their father is lost at sea and the price of lobster crashes worldwide, Bill and Jonah must decide how much they are willing to risk for their family legacy. Standing against them is Osmond Raymond–former Calvinist minister, mystic, captain of the Sanctity, and their father’s business partner for more than twenty years. Together with his grandson and heir, Julius, Osmond is determined to push the Graves family out of their lobster pound, regardless of the cost or the consequences.

About the author Jon Keller holds an MFA from Boise State University. After graduate school, he moved to the coast of Maine and spent several years working aboard a lobster boat and writing for a commercial fishing newspaper. He is now a clam digger on the coast of Maine.

About the Series » Brown Bag Lecture Series

Portland Public Library’s Brown Bag Lecture Series features bi-weekly reading and question-and-answer sessions with authors from around the nation as well as those who hail from right here in Maine. All Brown Bag Lectures are free to the public (unless specifically noted as a fundraiser). Because they usually take place over the lunch hour, guests are encouraged to bring their lunch; coffee provided by Coffee By Design. Special thanks to our Brown Bag Lecture Series coffee sponsor, Coffee by Design, and welcome to our new refreshment sponsor, Whole Foods. Books on sale at each lecture courtesy of Longfellow Books, who generously donates a portion of the proceeds to the Portland Public Library. Questions about our Brown Bag Lectures or to be added to our weekly calendar e-mail, please send us an e-mail. – See more at:

Cambridge Book Bike

bike on beach

I just heard, from a librarian friend, about a great program in Cambridge, Massachusetts:  Book Bike. Librarians ride around on bikes loaded with books and park in a designated park at a designated time to give kids free books. Their logo is:

Delivering books and a love of reading in Cambridge, ma.


All children in Cambridge will have access to quality literature to build home libraries for enjoyment and learning outside of the academic year.


  • The Book Bike supports healthy bodies and healthy minds by visiting many of the Cambridge parks that participate in the Summer Food Program.
  • Meeting families in the park for stories and activities, the Book Bike models that reading is fun!
  • The program empowers children of all ages to choose their own free book, selected by literacy professionals to encourage reading in summer months.  Books include a wide variety of titles, topics and languages.
  • The Book Bike connects families to other programs that support summer reading in Cambridge including the local public library.

What can be better – to combine exercise (at least for the librarians) and book reading, as well as being in a park on a beautiful sunny day. (And food and snacks provided)

For more information:


Tribute to travel books

Not books about traveling, but books to read while traveling! This is my tribute to, and observations about, books to read while traveling. Not one for a Nook or Kindle, I prefer the old fashioned paper copies(which don’t require batteries). I travel most days by boat (some call it commuting) and I carry two books to dip into per voyage – a non-fiction and a fiction book. Preferably paperbacks, for the weight factor. Sometimes this isn’t possible, give that public libraries, where I get many of my books, tend to avoid paperbacks, as they don’t hold up as well as hardcovers. If a hardcover is needed for one book, hopefully the second book is a paperback.

Connie reading

And then there are airplane books. I’ve learned over the years that the best books to bring while flying are not only light in weight, but light in reading – that is, ones you don’t have to think too much about. So when you’re stuck in an airport because of a layover or flight delay, you have a book that absorbs you and provides an escape from the tedium. As well as when you’re on a long flight, you need a great read to really take you away.


While traveling it’s also good to have books that are not library books nor belong to someone else – in other words, books that you don’t have to worry about if you lose or damage them. Or, if you don’t like them, you can leave them somewhere along the way, such as at your relative’s house or in the back pocket of the seat in front of you. That will lighten your load during your travels (or allow you room to pick up more books).

Finally, for the many people who vacation/travel end up on beaches (lucky us Long Islanders who can visit the beach much of the year), there are beach books. These are also books you don’t want to have to worry about if they get damaged or sandy, as well as being lightweight as you stretch out on your beach blanket.

beach reading

And then there are the contents of books that you bring on travels, but that’s another topic for another time.

See you on the ferry!

Maker Fair at PPL- April 25

Student art show 5

Portland’s Maker Fair | April 25, 2015 | Portland Public Library


WHEN: Saturday, April 25 | 11:00am-4:00pm

WHERE: Main Library and Monument Square


Makers@PPL offers a day of hands-on workshops

and exhibits in five themes: creative arts, food & drink,

entrepreneurship, local history, and science & tech-

nology—highlighting the importance of the STEM

subjects (science, technology, engineering, math).

These workshops and presentations not only teach,

but are fun and engaging.



robots, flying airplanes, 3D printing, bee keeping, cheese tastings,

calligraphy, bike repair, table saw trainings, map making,

screenprinting, and much, much more.


One big family-friendly day of making new things and trying new skills…

Mark your calendars and join in the fun!






Free and open to the public. No registration required.

For more information, visit

or call 871-1700 x 284.


Portland Public Library | 5 Monument Square, Portland | 207.871.1700 |


Ode to Knit Lit!

yarn 2

This past winter has been a great opportunity to curl up with a knitting project, or just enjoy reading knitting books and magazines. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed in past winters, and all throughout the year.

Nancy Berges, our island knitting maven, lent me a wonderful trio of books that she picked up on a trip to Wales many years ago: Cornish Guernseys & knit-frocks, by Mary Wright; Patterns for Guernseys, jerseys & Arans : fishermen’s sweaters from the British Isles, by Gladys Thompson; and Traditional knitting of the British Isles : Fisher-Gansey patterns of N.E. England, by Michael R. R. Pearson. Full of interesting stories, these books offer a glimpse into some of the island fishing communities in England, the men who wore the sweaters, and the women who knit them.

No idle hands: the social history of knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald, is another good winter read. From colonial days, through the Civil War, and up into the post World War II, Americans were busy knitting, often out of necessity, and later on for pleasure.

I love Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac : projects for each month of the year. While most of her projects are beyond my abilities, her charming writing made it just plain fun to read about her projects such as an Aran sweater, socks, long underwear, etc.

If you just like to read knitting essays, I would recommend Knitting yarns: writers on knitting, edited by Ann Hood. You’ll recognize some of the names, such as Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver, Elinor Lipman, Joyce Maynard, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, and Jane Smiley. Ann Hood also wrote another knitting book, the novel The knitting circle, about a group of women in Rhode Island providing comfort and therapy to each other through knitting. For more knitting fiction I would recommend Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street series, also about a knitting group and knitting shop, A Good Yarn, in Seattle.

Knitting is also a wonderful way to tell others that you care. Several books provide a means to do this. One is Knitting for peace: make the world a better place one stitch at a time, by Betty Christiansen. I’m trying to work my way through this book, in order to not only make projects for various charities, but also to “knit outside the box,” and hopefully improve my knitting skills. Charities include afgans for Afghans, Project Linus, and Warm up America! There are also prayer shawl books out there, to make someone you love a prayer shawl, to bring comfort, or sometimes just to celebrate good things. The prayer shawl companion is just one of the several books available. Simply reading the stories will inspire you to make a shawl yourself. It really does mean a lot to receive, and give, a prayer shawl.

Finally, for just pure visual delight, I enjoyed Coastal knits: a collaboration between friends on opposite shores, by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig. Alana (in mid-coast California) and Hannah (in Portland, Maine), offer their patterns and stories. I especially loved this book, not only for the photography, but because I grew up in California and was familiar with the area described, as well as of course, the Portland and Casco Bay area.

The Long Island Community Library offers the best of both worlds when it comes to knitting – books about knitting and a place to gather with fellow knitters – every Thursday afternoon, in the small meeting room. Come join us!

Yarn 1



Happy St. Patrick’s Day – a literary list

Dublin - Dublin Castle 2

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some of my favorite Irish or Celtic reads of the past few years to share with you. Many of these books are available at the Maine Irish Heritage Center Library in Portland, a real treat for all things Irish.


Johnson, Margaret M. The new Irish table: 70 contemporary recipes. San Francisco, Ca. : Chronicle Books, 2003. We’re going to cook some of these recipes for our St. Patrick’s Day feast tonight, including Haddock in Cider, and Colcannon. But just looking at the pictures is a delight!

Adam, David. Cry of the deer: meditations on the hymn of St. Patrick. Wilton, Conn. : Morehouse-Barlow, 1987. These meditations are based on the eternal certainties of the Christian faith, as acclaimed in the translation of the hymn of St Patrick known as The Deer’s Cry. A good reminder to us that St. Patrick’s Day is named after a saint, who is probably rolling over in his grave knowing that his saint’s day is for many an excuse to drink all day.

Barker, Matthew Jude. The Irish of Portland, Maine: a history of Forest City Hibernians. Charleston, SC : The History Press, 2014. Matt’s passion is all things Irish, especially history and genealogy. This book is a great read about a fascinating aspect of Portland’s history and ethnic groups.Dublin - cross

Cronin, Deborah K. Holy ground: Celtic Christian spirituality. Nashville, TN. : Upper Room Books, c1999. Deborah Cronin writes, “My encounter with Celtic Christianity has been a journey to islands…” No wonder I like this book!

Taylor, Patrick. An Irish country doctor. New York, NY : Forge, 2007, c2005. Similar to Cornwall’s Doc Martin, a city doctor practices medicine in a small eccentric country village. This book is the first in a series by an author who used to practice medicine in rural Ireland before immigrating to Canada.

Severin, Timothy. The Brendan voyage. New York : McGraw-Hill, c1978. Tim Severin and his crew recreated the mythical journey of St. Brendan, “The Navigator,” and his gang of Irish monks from Ireland to Newfoundland by boat. Great armchair reading but a journey we would never want to undertake – a lot of miserable days at sea. But a great way to learn about voyages, building a skin boat, weather patterns, Iceland, ice packs, etc.

Knight, Elizabeth. Celtic teas with friends : teatime traditions from Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Perryville, KY : Benjamin Press, 2008. For someone who likes tea and all things Celtic, this is a perfect fit. Celtic Teas with Friends provides that history in anecdotes and stories alongside practical advice on how to host unique and colorful tea parties.

Murphy, Dervla. Wheels within wheels. London: Murray, 1979. Dervla Murphy is one of my favorite travel writers – I loved her book “Full tilt: Ireland to India with a bicycle.” She is an amazing writer and traveler – truly fearless. Wheels within wheels is her autobiography, about her life before she set out on her bicycle adventure in her early thirties. Well-written, humorous, and interesting.

Fitzgerald, William John. A contemporary Celtic prayer book. Chicago, IL : ACTA Publications, [1998]. A wonderful book to take you through the week, with prayers for each time of day every day, as well as prayers for certain occasions including “prayer to the divine marriage broker,” “prayer of the divorced,” “prayer of single parents,” “blessing for a journey,” and “blessing of children.”Dublin - head

Llywelyn, Morgan. Strongbow : the story of Richard and Aoife : a biographical novel. New York : TOR, 1996. A story based on true events of twelfth-century Ireland follows the adventure of Richard de Clare, a great Norman knight, and Aoife, a free-spirited princess who is sworn to protect her people. One of my favorite Irish writers, Morgan Llywelyn’s books are a great way to learn about Irish history through fiction.