Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Love Your Library

Ah, small town library love. I refer, of course, to Friend Memorial Public Library, my little town's beating heart. Katharine and E.B. White adopted it when they moved here in the late 1930s and turned it into a tiny gem that continues to gleam today.

Big doings the next couple of weeks, and even those reading From Away can participate.

In the photo, librarian/restaurateur Nancy Randall and Library Director Stephanie Atwater are making valentines for posting around the library honoring donors' loved ones. ($5 a pop. Cheaper than chocolate!)

But more to the point, there's a silent auction of all sorts of goodies, half of them available on line. The items up for bid are like a snapshot of what it's like to live around here, put into perspective here by auction co-chair Pat Fowler:

A good public library is one of the most basic elements of a good community. What is happening this month at Friend Memorial Library in the small town of Brooklin shows this clearly. It’s one of the most active libraries in the state for communities under 1,000 population, circulating more items than any other and offering a wide range of programs and services. But such a resource must be funded, and Friend Memorial Library depends on its community as it serves it. Some funding comes from the Town, some from the library’s endowment, some from annual donations. And about ten percent of the library’s budget comes from one annual event: the Love Your Library Celebration around Valentine’s Day.

Over the past couple of weeks donations have been pouring into the library, starting with personal donations of $5 or more, which are represented by handmade valentines hanging in the library all this month. Local people have also contributed more than 160 articles to the library’s two concurrent auctions—one online www.biddingforgood.com/friendml and the other a silent auction in the library itself. Bidding at both auctions will continue until February 13th.

In addition to a personal tour of the farm where Charlotte’s Web was written by E. B. White, there are day sails (with yummy foods) on such boats as the trawler Ellie Belle, the Concordia Starlight, and the motorsailer Burma. There is an exquisite doll created by Pamela Johnson, completely hand-made from delicate antique fabrics, wool from Pam’s sheep, tiny jet buttons, even including hand-knit mittens and stockings and a basket handwoven from dainty cranberry vines. Bidders can vie for a cocktail party with appetizers by Diane Bianco, or for barbecue treats with music supplied by the Brooklin Town Band—or a boules picnic with expert coach Andre Strong and a French picnic. There is elegant jewelry by local craftspeople: beadwork by Sihaya Hopkins at Blossom Studio and Julie Reed at The Big Sheep, handstrung gemstones from Elaine Daniels, an enameled pendant by Dottie Hayes, sterling earrings by Jeanette Ware. And wearable art: a felted hat by Sue Wright, a delicate hand knit shawl of silk and merino yarns, or a child’s 4th of July sweater (with blue sailboats on a red background) knit by Pam Steele. Prefer to do it yourself? Bid on hand-dyed yard from String Theory, knitting lessons from Sue Wright, a class in rug hooking with Ken Carpenter.

There are plenty of smaller, very practical items: an oil change at Affordable Performance Auto, 50 gallons of heating oil, a half cord of stovewood delivered to your door, 3 hours of housecleaning, a haircut at Verde, chair caning for the broken seat in that kitchen chair of your grandmother’s. Bidders can try for a day or a week of child care at Cheryl Roy’s, or a day of dog care at Creature Camp.

Is your garden your passion? Consider a dozen perennial plants, or a new bed of hostas or dalilies, or a consultation with Julie Wang of Blue Poppy Gardens, or 3 hours of garden work with Holbrook Williams, land management consultation by Cathy Rees at Arbutus Ecological Services, a certificate from Mainescape. Hungry? Bid on chocolates from Black Dinah, a cooking class with Terence Janericco, cheese platter from Bucks Harbor Market, blueberries and pork chops, homemade apple pies (or make the pie yourself using a polished stone pastry board from The Granite Shop), breads by Brooklin Bread Company, clams, oysters, lobsters, a share in Penobscot East Resource Center’s shrimp fishery.

Enjoy tickets to a production by the New Surry Theater, concerts at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Festival, or a meal at a local restaurant. Many local merchants have donated gift certificates: The Cave, Brooklin General Store, The Lookout, etc.

According to Library Director Stephanie Atwater, several dozen people are working on this event, 160 donated to the auction, and more than 200 so far donating money for valentines. “That’s pretty amazing for a town of about 800 people,” she said.

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