Category Archives: Ellsworth Public Library

Legos @ the Library: Ninjago!

One Lego builder brought new Ninjago Legos to today’s meeting!

Here’s “before”:


“During the building process”:


and the “finished product”:



Here’s a look at some of the other great creations from today’s program:

DSC02585(I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but the entire top section of this vehicle swivels 360 degrees).


DSC02590I want one of these for my house!


DSC02589On a chilly winter afternoon like this one, it’s nice to plan out a perfect camping trip with Legos!

For next month’s Legos @ the Library, I’m looking for picture books to use for Lego inspiration.  So far, I’d like to use Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a Car and If I Built a House.

Cover of "If I Built a Car"

Cover of If I Built a Car

Does anyone have suggestions for other books that might spark a great Lego idea?



Filed under afterschool, Ellsworth Public Library, Legos

The Reading Pros Recap: Island of the Aunts


Where would you find mermaids, stoorworms, and selkies?  These magical creatures can be found on the Island of the Aunts, of course!  The Reading Pros met on Friday to discuss this book by Eva Ibbotson.

To change up the discussion portion of our meeting, we played Book Club Jenga.  I got this idea from many librarians’ blogs:  take a Jenga game and add a symbol (or a question) to each block.  When the player pulls out a block, he/she must answer the question.  If you choose to use symbols on the blocks, you can come up with a list of questions that correspond to each symbol.  I chose to do it this way because I can use the game for other groups at the library and come up with a set of questions for each age group.

Don't let the tower fall!

Don’t let the tower fall!

The object of Jenga is to try to remove blocks from the tower without tipping it over.  When it inevitably did tip over, the group did a “physical challenge” (like, jumping jacks or push-ups).  The favorite by far was a game called “freeze dance”:

Dance, dance, dance!

Dance, dance, dance!

We danced in place (without music, unfortunately) until I said “stop!”  It was a good way to release some energy 🙂

One of our book club members had a birthday, and he offered to bring in a themed snack.  I was having so much trouble trying to think of an appetizing snack that had something to do with the book (I even considered serving porridge, but the wise Reading Pros advised me not to).  So, I was very grateful to have help with the snack this month.  Here’s the big reveal of our mystery snack:

DSC02490Drumroll please…

DSC02491It’s stoorworm cookies!  For those of you who are not familiar with this month’s book, a stoorworm is a long, worm-like,, wingless dragon who lives off shore of the island.  This picture doesn’t show the cookies very well, but they were long and twisty, just like a stoorworm.  Thank you to the Deeny family for this inventive, delicious snack!


Leave a comment

Filed under book club, Ellsworth Public Library, The Reading Pros

The Reading Pros: Wonderstruck

Image from:

When I’m planning a book club meeting, sometimes the book is so multifaceted and amazing that it’s difficult to figure out what we should do.  Wonderstruck is one of those books.  We only have an hour and a half to discuss the book and do some sort of activity.  So, for this meeting, should we create our own mini museums, like Ben does in the book?  Should we learn about New York City, where part of the book takes place?  Or, should we learn to sign our names using American Sign Language?  Perfect.

Two of the characters in Wonderstruck are deaf and sign language is featured prominently in the book.  What a great opportunity to learn a new language and gain a better understanding of deaf culture.  We were lucky enough to have a guest speaker for this meeting, Nancy Litchfield Thane.  Nancy has worked with hearing impaired students for thirty-two years.

She started out the meeting by showing us a picture of some teens having fun at an amusement park.  She asked if we could tell who was deaf in the picture.  Everyone had a different answer:  “she might be deaf because she’s covering her ears”, or “he might be deaf because he’s not throwing his hands up in the air like everyone else.”  It turns out, everyone in the picture was deaf.  It was a great way to demonstrate that it’s not always so easy to judge someone’s situation based on appearance.

Then, we took a spelling test from the perspective of someone who is hearing impaired.  The syllables seemed to blend together and all of us had a hard time determining exactly what was being said.  This was an effective way to really get a feeling for what it would be like to not be able to hear.

We learned to sign the alphabet and practiced signing our names.

Learning to sign the alphabet.

Referring to the alphabet hand out.

We also learned some animal signs, which was a lot of fun.  If you’re interested in learning some animal signs, check out this video:

We learned that most idioms in English (like, “let’s hit the road” or “dressed to the nines”) are “translated” into their meaning for sign language.  By this, I mean that you wouldn’t sign the idiom word for word, but instead you would get across the meaning (for example “let’s hit the road” would be signed as “let’s go”).

Nancy taught us another interesting thing about idioms.  ASL has it’s own sayings that wouldn’t make sense if you translated them directly into English.  For instance, “you missed the boat” or “you’re too late” is signed as “train-go sorry.”

Wonderstruck is one of my favorite books and this meeting has been one of the best so far.  Thank you, Nancy, for teaching us so much this afternoon!


1 Comment

Filed under book club, Ellsworth Public Library, The Reading Pros

The Reading Pros Recap: The Penderwicks

Image from:

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall has everything I’m looking for in a juvenile fiction book.  It is well-written and features a cast of characters who may sometimes do or say the wrong thing, but their hearts are in the right place.  The book harkens back to the classics…I’ve heard that Jeanne Birdsall was inspired to write about four sisters from Little Women.  It’s a story about everything that can happen in a summer and I’m sure that most kids will relate to the crazy situations that Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty find themselves in.

It was definitely a good choice for book club this month because the story takes place during the summer (who wants to read a school based story during vacation, right?).  We had a great time in book club today, and as usual, the snack was everyone’s mind from the beginning of the meeting.

I had sent out an email reminder about book club and told the members that today’s snack would be something that was featured in the book.  Here were some guesses:


Cold blueberry pancakes

Burned cookies

Rabbit (they were pets in the book, and no one eats them!)

The answer was none of the above.  We had gingerbread (which was delicious) with whipped cream and strawberries.  Here’s what we did with the leftover whipped cream:

Laurel was our librarian guest (she’s the one on whipped cream duty).  Thanks for stopping by today, Laurel!

In other news, I had a very special flower delivery:

A beautiful summer bouquet.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!


Leave a comment

Filed under book club, Ellsworth Public Library, library life, The Reading Pros

Interview with Charlene Clemons (part 2)

Here is part two of my interview with Charlene Clemons, Assistant Director of the Ellsworth Public Library.  Charlene is our go-to person for any questions relating to genealogy, so I thought I would ask her to share her advice for beginning genealogists.  In case you missed part one of the interview, it can be found here.

Could you recommend a couple of good online resources for people who are interested in researching their family’s history?

Probably the best investment would be There are two levels of membership, one for just the United States and one that includes worldwide records. The thing to watch for is the type of record you are finding. More and more records on Ancestry are scans of original certificates and these are great resources. You want to use as many “primary source” documents as you can find. Be careful of using “family trees” or transcriptions of records that people have put on Ancestry or any other site. They are a good jumping off point, but you need to find primary sources for any information you see on a family tree.

Depending on your area of research, there are any number of sites designed to help you, some free and some subscription. “Family Tree” magazine (which we have at the library) offers lists of the best web sites about once a year. I would say go with what you can afford. Try out a pay site by signing up for the shortest time they offer, then you have a chance to unsubscribe if you are not finding the information you need.

What advice would you give to a beginner genealogist who may feel overwhelmed and not know where to start?

1.  Start simply. Do you want to do your own family tree? Start with yourself, write down everything you know, date and place of birth and marriage; places where you lived and went to school; parents’ names, date of birth, marriage and death; grandparents, etc. Make sure to prove every record with the appropriate birth, marriage or death certificate. Interview living family members and even long-time friends and neighbors of family members. Everyone has a different take on events and may just give you the clue you need.

2.  Is it just one family line you want to work on? Perhaps your maternal grandfather’s family? Start with that person and figure out what you know and what you need to know.

3.  Remember to record all your sources, their locations and when you found them. That way if there is any question that you or other researchers have later the source can be found.

4.  Visit a meeting of your local genealogical society, they will be glad to help you. Join an online genealogy discussion group. Read the genealogical how-to books. Talk to other folks researching in the library at the same time you are.

5.  Most of all, be open to what you find. Sometimes information appears in places and from people you would never expect. Make notes and find proof one way or the other.

What is unique about Ellsworth Public Library’s genealogy collection?

A few things. While many collections are created using a bibliography of what every genealogy collection should include this collection was created by a person who had some experience doing genealogy research in libraries and knew how frustrating it could be when a librarian wasn’t interested in helping you find what you needed in the collection or when the collection was spread all over the library either in open or closed stacks. (Especially closed stacks!) Because of that, the collection was set up as a sub-collection so that almost anyone walking in off the street could find their way around it. Often they need help getting started but once they are in the area, they usually find much more than they hoped for.

Another thing that makes the collection unique is the vast number of unpublished genealogies that folks have donated to us over the years. Some of these are large notebooks or spiral bound books they have had printed, but many others are just a few pages long, such as the three notebooks of “Hancock County Genealogical Society Papers”. Members who do research on someone’s family make a copy and add it to the notebooks. Very often the bits of information there will lead other researchers to new avenues in their own family genealogy. Probably 95% of the family names covered in the collection are listed in the database as a subject making it easy for folks to find a particular family.

Then there are the private collections we have been given either before or after the passing of a genealogist. Because of them we are able to have a vast array of titles that are either no longer available or prohibitively expensive. And those people or their families know the collections are being used and appreciated by other people with the same interest in genealogical research.

We also have the only complete collection of The Ellsworth American available anywhere. This is an invaluable resource for people researching the Ellsworth area between 1855 and the time of the Ellsworth Fire in 1933 when local records were destroyed.

One of the microfilm machines in the genealogy section of the library.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget the people who do their research here and how generous they are with other researchers, usually total strangers who soon become friends as they work together to dig out a piece of information on an ancestor. I have even seen people working in that corner
on something not genealogy related, offer advice to genealogists working there just because they overhear the conversation, and perhaps know a
person, cemetery or work where the needed information might be found.  There is something very special about that corner of the library.

Thank you, Charlene!

Leave a comment

Filed under Ellsworth Public Library, staff interview

A surprise for Marie

The staff of the Ellsworth Public Library was pleasantly surprised to have Marie Davis (who retired in March) join us this morning for our staff meeting.  The director, Charlene Churchill, had a surprise for Marie, as well.  Charlene presented the newly retired librarian with this certificate:

Photo credit: Sandy Abbott

In case you can’t read the scripty font, it says:

Be it known to all that We, the Members of the Senate and House of Representatives, join in recognizing Marie Davis, of Ellsworth, on her retirement as the Head Circulation Librarian of Ellsworth Public Library after 18 years of service to the town.  Ms. Davis also worked at the Charles Knowlton Elementary School Library before starting at Ellsworth Public Library.  We send her our appreciation for her 20 years of library work and we send her our best wishes on her retirement;  And be it ordered that this official expression of sentiment be sent forthwith on behalf of the 125th Legislature and the people of the State of Maine.

The document was signed by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Secretary of the Senate, and the Clerk of the House.

CharlE presenting Marie with the certificate.
(Photo credit: Sandy Abbott)

It’s always nice to recognize people for their hard work and dedication.  Thank you again, Marie, for everything you have done for the library!

Leave a comment

Filed under Ellsworth Public Library, library life