Tag Archives: Ellsworth Public Library

What’s in a name?

The mysterious literary society…The Tragic Treehouse…The Monstrous Gorilla.  What do these names have in common?  They are all possible names for the new program for middle school students at the Ellsworth Public Library.  The group met for the first time on Friday to brainstorm names and figure out how the group should be structured.

Here are a couple of pictures from our meeting:

Apples with caramel sauce was the snack of the day.

And, as you can see in the picture above, we used a library resource, Chase’s Calendar of Events, to look up random things that happened on our birthdays.  The book also lists celebrity birthdays, which were fun to look up.  If you want to give it a try, this website lists fun holidays and celebrity birthdays for today.

After talking about some upcoming program and fundraiser ideas (I see a read-a-thon in our future…) we went on a behind the scenes tour of the library that included the storage area, staff lounge and offices that are usually off-limits.

There is so much potential for this group and the members have already come up with some great ideas for projects.  Now we just have to settle on a name.

Youth Services Librarians:  do any of you have a program for middle school students?  If so, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments!


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Filed under afterschool, middle school group

Zombies on the loose!



No one was safe this afternoon at the Ellsworth Public Library as two zombies and one zombiologist (one who studies the undead) roamed the building, chanting “Brains…BRAINS!”

Despite their fearful appearance, the zombies seemed reasonable and did not actually attack patrons.  Instead, they attended a party to mark the end of the teen summer reading party.

Congrats to all teens who won prizes and participated in the Summer Reading Program!


Filed under teen program

Author Interview: Lynn Plourde

This spring I was lucky enough to hear Donn Fendler, Lynn Plourde, and Ben Bishop speak about their graphic novel, Lost Trail.  Most Mainers are familiar with Donn Fendler’s story as told in Lost on a Mountain in MaineLost Trail brings this amazing tale to a new generation of readers.

Three generations worked together on Lost Trail: Ben Bishop, Donn Fendler, and Lynn Plourde.

Here’s my interview with Lynn Plourde:


How is writing a graphic novel different from writing a picture book?

There are several differences.  One is length.  A typed picture book manuscript is usually 3-6 pages, but the Lost Trail manuscript was about 50 pages.  My picture books are fiction (other than a biography I did of Margaret Chase Smith) so I get to make up those stories.  Lost Trail is a true story and it’s Donn Fendler’s story—so that meant working closely with him to make sure the story was accurate as well as researching the rescue efforts to add that information to the book.  Finally, writing a graphic novel is more like writing a movie script.  Instead of paragraphs, there’s line after line of dialogue, thought bubble words, along with brief text in narration boxes.  The words have to add to but stay out of the way of all the illustrations in a graphic novel.  Also, when I write, I always read the words aloud over and over to hear if there are places where I need to make changes.  But reading just the words aloud for Lost Trail didn’t really work—graphic novels aren’t read-aloud stories.  They need the illustrations to complete the story.

What did you think when you first read Lost on a Mountain in Maine?

I read Lost on a Mountain in Maine as a grown-up, not a kid. But I remember thinking that was one lucky 12-year-old to survive all those days alone in the Maine wilderness.  Actually, I considered it a Maine miracle that Donn Fendler survived.  I still get goosebumps when I think about the moment he came out of the woods to see the McMoarn’s cabin—because I know that if one little thing had happened differently he wouldn’t have made it.  But he did!

In your opinion, why is Donn Fendler’s story perfect for the graphic novel format?

Donn Fendler’s story is perfect for the graphic novel format because it is so visual—a mighty mountain versus a small boy, a sleet storm in July, the Pamola creature, deer and bears.  With the illustrations in a graphic novel, readers can feel like they are looking over Donn’s shoulder as the story unfolds.  It’s like a movie on paper.  Also, Stephen King put it well when he said this is a graphic novel “about a real American superhero.”  Donn is the hero in his own story—you can’t help but root for him.

What was the most challenging part and most rewarding part of collaborating on this project with Donn Fendler and Ben Bishop?

The biggest challenge was trying to match Donn’s memory in the words and illustrations.  We did eight drafts of the story as we went back-and-forth working to get the story to say what Donn still remembers in his mind.  Then Donn and I didn’t meet the Illustrator Ben Bishop until the book was almost finished.  In hindsight, we wished we’d worked with him from the beginning. Ben had done graphic novels before and we had not so he was the expert on that format.  He could have told us to put in more illustration notes to make things clearer for him when he illustrated.  He could have pointed out places where less words were needed and the illustrations would move the story along without words.  Working with Ben from the beginning would have made the process easier.  I understand the process of creating a graphic novel much better AFTER finishing Lost Trail.

The most rewarding part of doing Lost Trail was becoming better friends with Donn Fendler and making friends with Ben Bishop.  It’s been fun to travel and do events with both of them.  Donn is a living legend, and it’s so much fun to see people swarm him and hear their stories of how their grandfather was one of the searchers or of the times Donn talked in their classroom.  Ben mesmerizes kids when he shows them how he creates a graphic novel and then draws an imaginary creature right before their eyes as they shout out the names of random animals.  It’s so much fun to be on the trail with these two men!

What is your favorite graphic novel? (besides Lost Trail, of course!)

Well, my favorite I-thought-it-was-a-graphic-novel-but-have-since-learned-it’s-a-variation-on-a-graphic-novel (shows how much more I still need to learn about graphic novels!) is Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck.  I loved how he wove together two stories seamlessly and that he celebrates deafness.  I was a speech-language therapist for many years and worked with many kids who were deaf.  Selznick visually paces the story perfectly with his illustrations.  I hope Wonderstruck will be made into a movie just as his book The Invention of Hugo Cabret was.

I agree.  Wonderstruck is one of my favorite books and it would be incredible on the big screen.  Thank you, Lynn!

If you would like to hear Donn Fendler and Lynn Plourde speak about the true story Lost Trail, come to the Ellsworth Public Library on Thursday, August 9th at 6:00 p.m. A book signing will take place after the presentation.  For more information, please call the Ellsworth Public Library (667-6363).  Hope to see you there!



Filed under author interview, maine author

Flowers for the desk

Flower delivery of the week 🙂 :

I think this is my first Queen Anne’s Lace of the summer.  What kinds of flowers have you seen this week?


Filed under library life, why i love being a librarian

Legos on show at the Ellsworth Public Library

A wide variety of Lego creations have taken over the Ellsworth Public Library’s display case for the rest of the month!  Check out some of the featured pieces:



Kids have responded positively to the display.  One young man told his younger sister that “it took people a long long time to make those things.”  In response to a child’s questions: “why can’t I take the Legos out and play with them?” and “can I buy those?” one of our librarians responded something to the effect of “the Legos are like art.  You can’t touch them, but you can look at them with your eyeballs.” 🙂

The pictures don’t really do the Legos justice, so if you’re an Mainer (or visiting) please stop by the library and check out the display!

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Bye, bye, butterflies!

We set the butterflies free today at the Butterflies and Bugs storytime.

We walked down by the Union River and found a spot to gather.  And, yes, I am wearing butterfly wings-thanks, Allegra!

Photo credit: Katie Lyons

Then, it was time to open up the “Butterfly Pavilion.”

Photo credit: Katie Lyons

I had never done this before, and I assumed that the butterflies would take the first chance they had to fly away.  It actually took quite a while to coax them out of the enclosure.  Katie and I finally convinced the butterflies to leave by helping them climb onto sticks.

Photo credit: Katie Lyons

The butterflies hung out on the sticks for a while, getting the lay of the land.  We all had the opportunity to study them up close, which was really great.

We returned to the library and I read The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent.  Then, we made butterfly wings and butterfly banners:

Flap your wings!

Have you seen any butterflies recently?  Which kind is your favorite?

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We want to hear what you think!

As I’ve discussed in recent posts, libraries are forced to reevaluate their purpose in these changing times.  It is no longer enough to house books and information because with the help of the Internet, people are able to access that information from home.  I have noticed some patrons who used to be regulars have stopped coming to the library.  When they do occasionally stop by, it’s to ask about the download library.  Some of them apologize and explain “I have a Kindle now.”  I can understand that it is much more convenient to download a book to your Kindle from the comfort of your own home than to travel to the library and check out a book (assuming that the book is available).  But for me, libraries have so much more to offer than reading material.  This is where the term “participatory culture” comes in.

More and more libraries are taking part in participatory culture.  What does this mean, exactly?  It means that libraries recognize that their patrons should play an active role in the library.  People are not merely “vessels to be filled with a body of knowledge” as Cadwell would say.  Learning isn’t just memorizing what someone else has told you.  It’s a process that involves the creation as well as the consumption of content.

Participatory culture can take many forms in libraries.  Libraries are providing their patrons with makerspaces, 3-D printers, and state of the art computer labs to enable them to create art that is sometimes added to the collection.  This is wonderful, but it is also expensive and time consuming to start these types of programs.  I think participatory culture can come in many forms, and even basic programs or displays can go a long way to create this kind of atmosphere at the library.

Here are three examples of simple ways we encourage participatory culture at the Ellsworth Public Library:

1.  Patron Picks

This new display (which was a patron’s idea) lets people highlight their book recommendations.

2.  Comment Cards

We include a comment card in the back of all new fiction books.  Patrons are encouraged to rate the book (on a scale of 1-5) and write their comments.

3.  Name the mascot

The library now has a mascot, but it needs a name.  Instead of choosing the name, we are asking our patrons to vote!

How does your library encourage patron participation?  Do you think that input from patrons is vital to the library experience?  I would love to hear what you think in the comments.



Filed under library life