This will go down in history as the summer of can’t.
Can’t experience the anticipatory happiness of hearing musicians tuning up to play a concerto.
Can’t applaud as the Pride or Independence Day parade marches by.
Can’t take in a summer theater production in a converted barn and watch the fireflies flit during intermission.
Can’t sit along the left field line and applaud the Sea Dogs.
Can’t duck into an air-conditioned auditorium on a humid afternoon and escape into a big screen movie.
Can’t wander into to your local library to hear a local or bestselling (or local and bestselling) author read from her new novel, talk about his writing process or otherwise bind the audience of readers together in appreciation of books and those who write them.
Actually, you can do that last part virtually or outdoors because Maine’s librarians are a resourceful, creative lot who don’t know the word “can’t.”
Most libraries have been offering curbside service for the past couple of months, which allows you to peruse their catalogs online and order what you’d like to read.
They’ve put up plenty of programming online—story hours for little kids, gaming clubs for teenagers and writing groups for kids and adults. Check your local library to see what’s being offered in your town.
Many libraries also have organized Zoom or outdoor events. The Maine State Library Association publishes a statewide calendar, which can be found here: https://maine-msl.libcal.com/calendar?cid=10791&t=m&d=0000-00-00&cal=10791,12840&inc=0 However, not every library in the state submits their events for inclusion on this central listing, so check your local library (or maybe one on the other side of the state, given that we’re talking virtual events) to see what catches your fancy.
Here are some upcoming events I found interesting in a brief online tour of some of my favorite libraries in the state:
This Wednesday evening, July 8, the Blue Hill Library’s online discussion group called Readings on Race will take place from 6-8 p.m. Facilitated by Surry resident Kate Mrozicki, this week’s topic is Interrupting Racism: How to Speak Up and Be Heard. For more information: https://www.bhpl.net/events/readings-on-race-interrupting-racism/
Beginning this Friday, July 10 and continuing through the summer, Porter Memorial Library in Machias will feature a four-part film series on the life of Bill Copwerthwaite of Machiasport, a master builder of yurts, and maker of fine spoons, bowls and chairs.
The film is called Mr. Coperthwaite: A Life in the Maine Woods. The filmmaker is Anna Grimshaw a professor at Emory University who has a home in Machiasport. Each section of the film will be online for two weeks, so you can watch at a time convenient to you. New sections will be posted on Friday July 10, July 24, August 7 and August 21. For more information: http://www.porter.lib.me.us/w/index.php/coperthwaite-film-series/
Also this coming Friday, July 10, Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor will feature my friend Rich Bard talking about his new book, Beyond Acadia: Exploring the Bold Coast of Downeast Maine. Rich worked as a Maine wildlife biologist before turning his talents to land preservation. He was executive director of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy for several years before moving south to become the ED at Scarborough Land Trust. For more information about this virtual event, go here: https://jesuplibrary.org/event/beyondacadia/
On July 16 from 6 – 7 p.m., Jennifer Finney Boylan will discuss her new book Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs, with Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo in an outdoor event in Monument Square, directly across from the main branch of the Portland Public Library. Part of the PPL’s Outdoor Spotlight Lecture Series, tickets are required. Information is available here: https://www.portlandlibrary.com/events/spotlight-lecture-jennifer-finney-boylan-discusses-good-boy-with-richard-russo/
On Wednesday, July 22, the Bangor Public Library is livestreaming an event called Peter Boie – Magician for Non-Believers. The show is interactive and includes a Q & A and an opportunity for the audience to learn a few magic tricks. For more information: https://www.bangorpubliclibrary.org/adult-programs/2020/7/22/magic-for-unbelievers-virtual-tour
On July 28 from 6 -7 p.m., Camden Public Library will host author and activist Anne B. Gass in an online presentation called Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine’s Fight for Women’s Suffrage. The link to this Zoom event can be had by contacting the library. More details are here: https://www.librarycamden.org/event/suffrage-centennial-program-voting-down-the-rose-with-anne-b-gass/
This is only a sampling of the innovative programming happening in Maine’s libraries this summer. There may be no live music, live theater or live baseball, but even during a pandemic our can-do librarians are finding ways to entertain, engage and enlighten.
Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available everywhere e-books are sold. These days she’s hard at work on new projects.